I hope you don’t mind my penchant for Japan stories. I’m sure you understand. A sake brewery representative went on YouTube this week to ask the Japanese people to support tsunami-affected breweries like his by buying their sake for the annual cherry blossom celebrations. Otherwise “secondary economic damage” could result if people heed the Tokyo municipal government’s depressing request to refrain from celebrations this year. ”Rather than exercising self-restraint, we would be grateful if people hold cherry blossom viewing parties.” I hope they did.
Asparagus, strawberries, rhubarb. Just writing those words makes me smile. Green and pink spring! Head to the Cheap Healthy Good blog to see 81 of their favorite asparagus recipes. Maybe it’s because I’m getting a bit peckish waiting for my breakfast to bake — cranberry scones! — but CHG’s selection of breakfast recipes is really talking to me, especially the frittatas. Other temptations – Lemon Risotto with Asparagus, and, oh gosh, there are too many.
I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy and cook soba noodles lately thanks to my homage-to-Japan mood, plus I’m sure I’ll love buckwheat pasta. The Sesame Soba Noodles with Asparagus at the What Would Cathy Eat blog will give me the excuse to indulge that whim.
Or if you’re in the Indian mood, try my Indian-Spiced Chicken and Asparagus. I can personally vouch that it’s a five-star recipe.
It’s been years since I’ve made Bernard Clayton’s Glazed Strawberry Pie. I was reminded of this recipe because I read that he died last month. I don’t know much about Mr. Clayton, but his cookbook, The Complete Book of Pastry, Sweet and Savory is one of my more battered, stained and warped ones, meaning, it’s good.
I looked for this recipe online but couldn’t find it, so here it is. I had to paraphrase from different parts of his book and add my own instructions so it’s not exactly how his recipe reads.
Glazed Strawberry Pie
Half-and-Half Pie Crust
The crust is completely baked before it’s filled. You’ll need four hours to chill and one hour to warm the pastry. Watch it while it bakes; there’s a note in my cookbook that says 20 minutes is way too long.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
- 4 tablespoons shortening, room temp
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1-1/4 cups pastry or all-purpose flour
- Pinch baking powder
- 2 tablespoons milk
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
Beat butter, shortening, sugar and salt in a mixer until creamy. With beater turning, add ½ cup flour and the pinch of baking powder. Add a portion of the milk and all the lemon juice. Continue adding flour and milk alternately. Stop mixing when the dough is smooth. The mixture will be smooth and soft but will stiffen when chilled.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill to relax for at least four hours before shaping. Remove dough from the refrigerator one hour before rolling to make it less difficult to work with.
For detailed instructions on rolling and decorating the pastry, see my Mince Pie recipe. Sprinkle your work surface lightly with flour. Flatten dough into a fat disc. Sprinkle with flour. Roll it out into a disc that’s about ½ to 1 inch larger than your pie pan. Carefully transfer dough to pan and do any decorative treatment of the edges. Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork.
To prevent the dough from bubbling out of shape or shrinking, cover the dough with foil and fill with dried beans, rice, pie weights or another pie pan for the first 10 minutes of baking. Bake for a total of 15 minutes or until the crust becomes light golden brown. Cover edges with foil if they’re baking too fast. Don’t worry if it’s ugly, the glazed strawberries will command everyone’s attention.
- 1 quart strawberries, hulled
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 ounces cream cheese
- Whipped cream for topping
Select 25-30 of the prettiest reddest strawberries, or however many fit into the pan. They’ll be placed later on the crust, large end down. Set them aside. In a food processor, puree the remaining berries, about 1-1/2 cups.
Place the puree in a saucepan and heat slowly to a boil. Add sugar. In a small bowl mix cornstarch and water into a smooth paste. Add it to the strawberry mixture. Cook to the clear stage, bubbling slowly, over medium heat for about 5-8 minutes. Stir frequently so it doesn’t stick to the pan. Remove from the heat. Stir in butter and set aside.
In the food processor blend the cream cheese and 1 tablespoon of the cooked puree until the mixture is smooth, about two pulses. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the pie crust. Arrange the whole strawberries in a circular design with the largest fruit in the center and the smaller berries radiating out. Spoon the cooked puree (glaze) evenly over the berries.
When the glaze has cooled somewhat, about 15-20 minutes, place the pie in the refrigerator to chill before serving with whipped cream.
Do you have enough poetry in your life? I don’t. I should rephrase that. I encounter poetry in things and thoughts all the time, but I don’t spend enough time with written poetry. My friend Patti Digh is featuring a poem a day this month on her blog, 37 Days. I encourage you to subscribe and enjoy her selections.
Here’s a taste of a sizzling spring poem from Edwin Morgan who was one of the foremost Scottish poets of the 20th century, according to trusty Wikipedia. Please visit his website to read the entire short poem – I don’t want to infringe too much on his copyright.There were never strawberries like the ones we had that sultry afternoon sitting on the step of the open french window facing each other your knees held in mine the blue plates in our laps the strawberries glistening in the hot sunlight we dipped them in sugar looking at each other not hurrying the feast…..