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Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble Pie

Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble Pie // FoodNouveau.com

In my last post, I talked about a mix of ingredients (strawberry and pistachio) that I thought was great but, in fact, isn’t—at least, according to flavor experts. Now, I think we can all agree that the combination of strawberries and rhubarb IS a match made in heaven, right? I can think of no better food duo: the sweetness of the strawberries is perfectly balanced by the tartness of the rhubarb. Even their textures are complementary: in this pie, the strawberries become soft but still keep their shape, laying all comfy and surrounded by the rhubarb that turns into a delicious compote in the baking process. This pie is a spectacular one—THE seasonal pie you should be making right now. It’s so good that I’ve been enjoying it for breakfast, too. The oats in the crumble count as a daily dose of fiber, right?

Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble Pie

For one 9-in [23-cm] pie

1 9-in [23-cm] pie crust

For the filling
1 cup [250 ml] sugar
¼ cup [60 ml] cornstarch
1 tsp [5 ml] orange zest
¼ tsp [1.25 ml] salt
3 cups [750 ml] rhubarb, trimmed and cut into ½-in [1.25-cm] pieces
4 cups [1 L] strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters

For the crumble topping
2/3 cup [160 ml] rolled oats
½ cup [125 ml] all-purpose flour
½ cup [125 ml] brown sugar, packed
½ tsp [2.5 ml] ground ginger
6 tbsp [90 ml] chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-in [1.25-cm] cubes
1/3 cup [80 ml] slivered almonds, lightly toasted

To finish
1 tbsp [15 ml] butter

To prepare the pie crust: Preheat the oven to 350°F [175°C]. Roll out the pie crust into a circle shape. Fit the dough over a 9-in [23-cm] pie pan and crimp the edges as desired. Prick the dough all over with a fork, then cover with a piece of parchment paper and add pie weights (or dry peas). Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then remove the pie weights and parchment paper and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove from the oven and reserve.

Increase the oven temperature to 425°F [215°C]. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

To prepare the filling: Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together in a large bowl. Remove 2 tbsp [30 ml] of the sugar mixture and set aside. Add the orange zest and salt to the large bowl, whisk, then add the rhubarb and strawberries and mix to coat the fruits with sugar. Let sit while you prepare the crumble topping.

To make the crumble topping: Place the rolled oats, flour, brown sugar, and ginger in the bowl of a food processor (see note). Pulse until the oats are ground and the mixture is well blended. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms pea-sized crumbs. Remove the bowl from the processor, take out the blade, and mix in the slivered almonds with a spoon (you can also transfer the crumble to a mixing bowl to mix in the almonds).

To assemble the pie: Sprinkle the 2 tbsp [30 ml] sugar/cornstarch mixture over the bottom of the blind-baked crust. Pour the fruit mixture into the crust, spreading it evenly. Dot with 1 tbsp [15 ml] butter. Cover the pie evenly with the crumble mixture, pressing it down slightly so it forms a crust of sorts.

Place the pie on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet (so it catches the dripping juices) and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F [175°C] and bake for about 40 minutes longer, until the juices are thick and bubbly.

Remove from the oven and allow the pie to cool and rest for several hours (a half-day is best). This will allow the filling to set and make the pie easier to serve.

Serve the pie on its own, or even better, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble Pie // FoodNouveau.com

Notes:

  • I recommend blind-baking the pie crust first because I find it remains fairly soggy when I skip this step (due to the juiciness of the filling). You can definitely skip this step if you’re short on time, but know the crust won’t be as flaky.
  • Processing the oats makes for a finer crumble texture. You can skip this step, mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, then incorporate the butter by hand (or using a pastry cutter). The crumble will be chunkier, but just as delicious!

Recipe Credit: Marie Asselin, based on a recipe by Magnolia Bakery.

Pistachio and Strawberry Verrines

Pistachio and Strawberry Verrines // FoodNouveau.com

I’ve had a major crush on pistachios ever since I came back from Sicily. As the only region cultivating the nut in Italy, Sicily is especially proud of its “green gold,” serving them in both sweet and savory dishes. I was fascinated by the use of pistachios in pasta dishes, where they were often paired with seafood. Before I tasted it, I would never have imagined that this match would work.

Of course, I also enjoyed countless sweets in which pistachios were the star (cannoli and gelato come to mind), so I came back home determined to use them more often in my everyday cooking. When I recently had to create a dessert using seasonal strawberries, it was obvious to me that pistachios would also play a role—but matching strawberries and pistachios isn’t such an obvious idea for everyone. The Flavor Bible, my main recipe creation tool, specifically suggests avoiding this pairing altogether, stating that “pistachios can easily overpower” the taste of strawberries. After feeling bummed about this discovery (I really trust The Flavor Bible!), I decided I would try it anyway. I had the creamy, subtle, distinctive taste of the pistachio gelato brioche I had at Catania’s Nonna Vincenza pastry shop in mind. If I could turn pistachios into a cream, surely they would be the perfect support for Québec’s super sweet, juicy, slightly zingy strawberries, right?

Well, I’m no flavor expert, but I’ll say these verrines are spectacular. The strawberries, which I simply macerated in vanilla sugar, shine bright, and the pistachio cream creates a rich, velvety vehicle with an intriguing, slightly toasted flavor. Of course, the rich crumbs don’t hurt either, adding a fabulous buttery crunch to the mix. This dessert ticks all the boxes: juicy, nutty, creamy, crunchy, and sweet—but not overly so. That’s a winning dish in my book!

Pistachio and Strawberry Verrines

Makes 6 to 8 verrines (depending on the glass size)

For the pistachio paste
¾ cup [180 ml] unsalted pistachio nuts, shelled, peeled (see note)
1/3 cup [80 ml] sugar
¼ cup [60 ml] whole milk

For the pistachio cream
2 cups [500 ml] whole milk
2 egg yolks
¼ cup [60 ml] sugar
2 tbsp [30 ml] cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1 tsp [5 ml] vanilla extract

For the macerated strawberries
1 pint fresh strawberries
1 tbsp [15 ml] sugar
¼ vanilla pod

For the pistachio crumble
¼ cup [60 ml] all purpose flour
¼ cup [60 ml] sugar
¼ cup [60 ml] unsalted pistachio nuts, shelled, chopped finely
2 tbsp [30 ml] butter, cold and cubed

To make the pistachio paste: Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the shelled pistachios and simmer 2 minutes. Drain and rinse the nuts under cold water to cool them completely. Dry the nuts with paper towels when put them in the bowl of a food processor. Add the sugar and pulse until the pistachios are finely ground. Add the milk and process until the mixture is as smooth and creamy as the food processor will make it (some tiny pistachio bits will remain and that’s ok).

To make the pistachio cream: Pour the milk in a medium saucepan, add the pistachio paste, and heat until the mixture simmers (no need to bring it to a full boil). While the milk mixture is heating up, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a medium mixing bowl. The mixture will be thick but make sure to whisk until it’s smooth (it’ll take just a minute or two).

When the milk mixture simmers, remove from the heat. Ladle about ½ cup [125 ml] hot milk and slowly pour it into the egg mixture. Make sure to whisk constantly while you slowly pour in the hot milk, this will ensure the eggs heat up gradually and don’t turn into scrambled eggs. Whisk another ½ cup [125 ml] hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan containing the rest of the hot milk mixture, keeping on whisking while doing so. Put the saucepan back over low heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the cream thickens to a pudding consistency, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Divide the pistachio among six to eight verrines (each glass should be filled to a generous third). Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until the cream is completely cool, about 2 hours.

To make the pistachio crumble: Preheat the oven to 350°F [175°C]. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and chopped pistachios together. Add the cubed butter and incorporate it to the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter, a fork, or your hands, until the mixture forms pea-sized crumbs. Spread the mixture on the cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes until the crumbs are golden (mixing the crumbs two to three times during baking allows them to brown more evenly). Let cool completely.

To make the macerated strawberries: Scrape the inside of the vanilla pod with the back of a knife blade to get the seeds. Place the seeds and the sugar in a small plate and use a fork to mix the vanilla seeds into the sugar. Fifteen to thirty minutes before service, quarter the strawberries and place them in a large bowl. Dust with the vanilla sugar, mix gently to coat the berries, and leave to macerate at room temperature until ready to assemble the verrines (or at least 15 minutes).

To assemble the verrines: Take the verrines out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving to bring them back to room temperature. Divide the macerated strawberries between each serving. Generously sprinkle with pistachio crumbs. Serve right away!

Notes: 

  • It’s better to macerate the strawberries shortly before assembling the verrines. The more the strawberries macerate, the softer they become, and in this recipe, it’s best if the strawberries remain firm and juicy. Similarly, it’s better to add the crumbs at the very last minute so they remain crunchy (they will soften if they absorb the berry juices).
  • Pistachios sold in their shells must be peeled before being used in this recipe because the skin that cover the nuts would change the texture of the cream. To peel the pistachios, simmer, rinse and dry as described in the recipe, then remove the skin by pinching each nut each between your fingers. Discard the skins.
  • The pistachio cream can be made two days in advance. Once cooked, pour the cream into verrines, cover with plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator until ready to assemble.
  • The pistachio crumbs can be made two days in advance. Once they are cool, store in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to assemble.

Recipe Credit: Marie Asselin. The recipe was previously published in French by Fou des foodies.

Download this recipe in PDF format - Food Nouveau

Where to Eat in Big Sur

Where to Eat in Big Sur // FoodNouveau.com

Note: This post is published in partnership with Expedia Canada and Food Bloggers of Canada. All recommendations and opinions are my own.

I had long wanted to go on a road trip on the California coast, perhaps ever since peeking through the box containing my mom’s slides of when she had done so with her friends while in her 20s. I have always admired her moxie: she took that amazing trip at a time when it was not that common for women to embark on such adventures. And it was an ambitious expedition too: along with two friends, she drove from Quebec, to Vancouver, California, Death Valley, Salt Lake City, Yellowstone, and then back to Quebec. All in all, it was a one-month and 9,700-mile itinerary. That’s an impressive roadtrip if I’ve ever seen one!

But I was not as adventurous as my mom was as a teenager, and I was way too introverted to leave on a backpacking type of trip. When I finally caught the travel bug in my early twenties, there were so many places I wanted to see. The California road trip was still on my mind, but it moved down the list, after Paris, Italy, and several other destinations that felt more exotic.

The Big Sur coast in California // FoodNouveau.com

When my good friend Melanie recently got married in Northern California, I felt like it was at last time to indulge in that teenaged dream of mine. I was pregnant, and it was to be one of our last vacations before the baby was born. We decided to rent—what else—a convertible and to make our way down scenic Pacific Coast Highway 1. The nine-day itinerary would take us from San Francisco through Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Big Sur, San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, Santa Barbara, Malibu, Santa Monica, and finally, Los Angeles.

Bixby Bridge, an 80-year-old architectural feat in Big Sur, California // FoodNouveau.com
Bixby Bridge, an 80-year-old architectural feat.
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Asparagus, Soft-Boiled Egg, and Dukkah Tartine

If you live in a northern climate, you know the gleeful feeling that comes with seeing the first seasonal crops appear on market stands. Asparagus are among the first of a long line of vegetables and fruits that are to follow over the summer, which is why every year, starting late May, I dutifully watch for their arrival. The seasonal crisp stalks are so fresh they’re almost sweet, so one of my favorite ways to enjoy them is thinly bias-cut and tossed into a salad. This year I decided to pair them with Middle-Eastern flavors and a quintessential partner, the egg. Served in a toasted slice of bread, it’s an elegant brunch dish, or a simple lunch you should enjoy with a glass of white wine.

Asparagus and Soft-Boiled Egg Tartine // FoodNouveau.com

Asparagus, Soft-Boiled Egg, and Dukkah Tartine

Serves 2

2 eggs
2 thick slices of country loaf bread
2 tbsp [30 ml] hummus
8 oz [225 g] thick asparagus stalks, tough ends discarded
1 tbsp [15 ml] extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp [5 ml] freshly squeezed lemon juice
Finely grated zest of a half-lemon
A pinch of fleur de sel, or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp [30 ml] slivered almonds, lightly toasted
Dukkah (see note)

Prepare the soft-boiled eggs: Set a small bowl with water and ice close to the stove. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Carefully drop the eggs into the boiling water, lower the heat, and simmer for exactly 6 minutes. Fish the eggs out of the water with a slotted spoon and drop them into a bowl of ice water. Leave them in for at least 5 minutes to stop the cooking process and cool down the eggs. Keep the eggs in their shells in the fridge until ready to serve. You can prepare the eggs a day or two in advance, but they will be best if served room temperature. If you boiled the eggs in advance, take them out of the fridge 15-30 minutes before you plan on serving them.

To shell the eggs, very carefully roll one between the palm of your hand and a cutting board, so the shell cracks in a few places (apply very little pressure to avoid smashing the egg!) Peel the shell off the egg, and then rinse the egg under cold water to remove any leftover bits of shell that could still be sticking. Reserve.

Make the asparagus salad: Very thinly slice the asparagus stalks on a bias. Put into a bowl, and add the extra-virgin olive oil, the lemon juice and zest, some salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss well, taste, and adjust seasoning if needed. Add the slivered almonds and mix well.

Assemble the tartines: Toast or grill the slices of bread, then place each slice on an individual serving plate. Spread some hummus onto each slice, then top with the asparagus salad. Cut each soft-boiled egg in half and set two halves on each tartine. Sprinkle liberally with dukkah. Serve immediately.

Note: Dukkah (sometimes spelled dukka, or duqqa) is a Middle-Eastern mixture of nuts and spices that typically contains almonds, hazelnuts, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and sesame seeds. It is traditionally enjoyed as a snack or an appetizer by dipping a piece of bread into olive oil, then into the dukka mixture. It’s also delicious sprinkled on salads, meats, and fish. Dukkah is sold in specialty grocery stores, but it’s also easy to make it at home.

Recipe Credit: Marie Asselin. The recipe was previously published in French by Fou des foodies.

Download this recipe in PDF format - Food Nouveau

Black Olive and Arugula Israeli Couscous Salad with Roasted Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette

Ever heard of Israeli couscous? This “couscous”—in fact a pasta made with wheat flour—is a wonderfully versatile foundation on which to build tasty warm or cold dishes. Also called Jerusalem or pearl couscous, the chewy pasta absorbs surrounding flavors without ever losing its shape and texture or clumping together, possibly making it the ultimate ingredient for prepare-ahead salads. In this recipe, the beads soak in the rich roasted tomato dressing and elegantly mingle with crunchy cucumbers, pungent black olives, earthy parsley, and peppery arugula. It’s a bright and gorgeous salad: one that screams for you to put together a picnic on a warm summer day. Bring along a bottle of rosé wine from Provence, and you’re in for a treat!

Black Olives and Arugula Israeli Couscous Salad with Roasted Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette // FoodNouveau.com

Makes 4 side-dish portions

For the roasted cherry tomatoes
2 cups (about 12 oz) [500 ml/340 g] cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp [15 ml] extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, left unpeeled
½ tsp [2.5 ml] sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the vinaigrette
2 tbsp [30 ml] extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp [30 ml] water
1 tbsp [15 ml] white balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 tbsp [15 ml] freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ tsp [2.5 ml] sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the couscous
1 tbsp [15 ml] olive oil
1 cup [250 ml] Israeli (or Jerusalem, or pearl) couscous
1 ¾ cups [425 ml] water
¼ cup [60 ml] Kalamata black olives, pitted and chopped
½ cup [125 ml] Lebanese cucumbers (or English cucumbers), diced
¼ cup [60 ml] chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 handfuls arugula (rocket) leaves
1 tsp [5 ml] chopped fresh thyme leaves

To roast the cherry tomatoes: Preheat the oven to 300°F [150°C]. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Halve the cherry tomatoes and place in a mixing bowl. Add the olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper and mix carefully to coat the tomatoes without crushing them. Spread on a single layer on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Tuck the unpeeled garlic clove in-between the tomatoes and roast in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until they have shrunk in size and are slightly shriveled around the edges. Let cool completely in the pan.

To make the vinaigrette: Once the roasted cherry tomatoes are completely cool, place half the tomatoes, the peeled roasted garlic clove (it will be very soft now), and all the vinaigrette ingredients in a tall measuring cup. Puree with a hand blender until you reach a smooth and silky consistency (you can also do this in a blender). Reserve.

To make the couscous: Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the Israeli couscous and stir until the beads are toasted and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the water. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the couscous is al dente (soft with a bite). Note: You might need to use more or less water, depending on the brand of Israeli couscous you’re using. Please refer to the manufacturer instructions. If you taste the couscous and you feel it’s done but there’s still water in the pan, drain it. Let the cooked couscous cool completely.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the couscous, black olives, and diced cucumber together. Add a few tablespoons of dressing and toss to distribute the dressing evenly. Add the parsley, arugula, thyme leaves and reserved roasted cherry tomatoes. Toss carefully just to mix the ingredients together. Taste, adjust seasoning, and add more dressing if needed. You can alternatively serve the extra dressing in a jar so your guests can add more to taste.

Serve immediately. If making the salad in advance, keep the arugula out and toss it into the salad just before serving.

Recipe Credit: Inspired by a recipe by Deb Perelman, Smitten Kitchen

Download this recipe in PDF format - Food Nouveau