Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spring Is In Bloom Strawberry Pie

                       Click on image for a bigger picture. No fancy photoshop here, what you see is what you get!

Did you ever see the movie Waitress? It's about this gal who works in a diner and despite having the unbelievable gift of being a "pie genius," she also has the misfortune of being married to a real jerk. Anyway, this gal makes pies and names them based on her mood or whatever inspires them. For instance, "I Hate My Husband Pie" or "I Can't Have No Affair Because It's Wrong And Earl Will Kill Me Pie." Of all the things to pop into my head while placing the finishing touches on my pie, the movie Waitress did. So, as I placed the last edible pansy on the pie it struck me, "Spring Is Bloom Strawberry Pie!"

And really, doesn't the name and pie capture Spring? When I think of Spring I think of fresh strawberries and newly bloomed flowers. Growing up in Orange County, there was a small strawberry farm down the street from my aunt's house. And at the end of every season they would put up a sign that read, "Closed. Open Spring Nineteen-ninety-whatever." And I remember always thinking wow, that sounds so far away from now. And yet in a matter of a few months, it was Spring and the stand was open. And I would always think wow, I can't believe it's been that long. Isn't it funny, how when you're younger time seems to drag on, but as you get older time just seems to fly you by? I drove by that little farm the other day, looking forward to seeing that sign promising fresh strawberries come Spring and to my utter surprise and dismay the sign was not there. The stand was not there. The farm was gone. In its place I found trenching, wood framing, and a sign promising a new gated community. Not the Spring promise I was looking for, and as depressing as it was to see the farm go, isn't that really what Spring is about: new beginnings? Change? After all new doesn't always mean good, right? The farm is gone and another cookie cutter housing development is going up in Orange County, because really, there aren't enough of them all ready. But like everything in life, we can choose to see the good or the bad, and despite my little sarcastic comment, I choose to see the good. I see the housing market slowly coming back. I see people getting back to work. And in my mind I see those hard working farmers enjoying retirement somewhere tropical. I see the joy of a family owning their first home and building lasting memories. I choose to see the good side of new beginnings.

I know what you're thinking blah, blah, blah, tell us about the pie. So, I will. And I apologize for the detour, but you can't look forward without looking back. With that said, isn't this the prettiest strawberry pie you ever did see? And lucky for you it's the tastiest too! My friend Lisette's family celebrate Equinox and invited me over for dinner and crafts. They asked me to make dessert and I really wanted to bring something that looked and tasted like Spring. Immediately I thought about using edible flowers, and lucky for me Whole Foods had them in stock. Then it was onto deciding on a dessert. I wanted something fresh tasting. At first I thought about lemon bars, but then as I was driving to Whole Foods I saw the strawberry stand on the corner was open and decided there and then I'd make a strawberry pie. Decorating the pie in flowers was a bit of a gamble. I thought it looked pretty, but Ryan thought flowers on a pie were strange. I then thought, who asked Ryan? And decorated it with flowers anyway!

As for the pie itself, it really did highlight the freshness of the strawberries instead of overpowering the taste with a sickly sweet glaze as often is the case. This glaze was not too sweet and there wasn't too much of it, so the strawberries weren't drowning in it. I actually did eat a strawberry after I had dipped it in the glaze and it was amazing! I also used a pre-made 10" graham cracker crust pie shell because I wanted the strawberries distributed better. Originally I wasn't going to add any food coloring to the glaze because I wanted it to look "fresh" and not have that "fake look," if you know what I mean. But the glaze was pale and when I dipped one of the strawberries in it, it made the strawberry look anemic. So, I added the coloring a tiny bit at a time until it matched the color of the reddest strawberry I had. I also used about 2 1/2 little baskets (pints?) of strawberries and it was perfect. Do try this pie, it was simple, delicious, and gorgeous!

Oh, and P.S. this isn't a "pretty pie piece" kind of pie. It's a "messy mound pie piece" kind of pie, but really, aren't those the best?

Spring Is In Bloom Strawberry Pie
or Gommie's Mile-High Fresh Strawberry Pie from Out of The Nest, Into The Frying Pan

1 baked 9 inch pie shell (I used 10"graham cracker for better strawberry distribution)
2 1/2 boxes perfect strawberries
1/2 cup water
3 Tbspn cornstarch
1 cup sugar
Pinch salt
1 1/2 Tbspn lemon juice
1 Tbspn butter
Red Food Coloring (I used Wilton Icing Color in Red)
1 to 2 packages edible flowers (optional)

Clean and hull berries just before making pie. Set aside enough soft berries to make 1/2 cup of pulp and make pulp. Set the rest of the perfect berries on a paper towel to dry.
Add 1/2 cup water to the 1/2 cup mashed berries. Set aside.
[In a small sauce pan] Blend cornstarch and sugar. Add salt, lemon juice and butter. Add the mashed berries and mix and cook over a low fire until thick and clear. Add enough red coloring to make a brilliant crimson. Cool to lukewarm.
Carefully dip the whole perfect berries into the red glaze, then place the berries in a perfect "mosaic" pattern in the pie shell. Keep adding the berries that have been dipped in the glaze, piling the berries higher as you work toward the center.
Spoon the remaining glaze over the berries, filling the chinks (or the gaps between the pie shell and the berries. If the glaze is too thick, gently warm before glazing pie.)
Decorate with flowers, filling in the gaps and draping where needed. Blues, yellows, and oranges pop out the most.
Refrigerate until serving time, then remove flowers and top each slice with whipped cream.

Click on image for a bigger picture.
No fancy photoshop here, what you see is what you get!