Rhubarb, Strawberry & Thyme Custard Meringue Pie

Thursday, March 23, 2017



Last night while cozying around a bar table in the posh Art Deco atmosphere of the Kimpton Cardinal Hotel, I realized several things: friends who will laugh and cry with you are worth hanging on to, and if they also see your potential and pull out the very best in you, they are solid gold.  Life can be illuminated with mountain top experiences where we feel the sky is the limit and there is no diminishing our dreams for the future. But there are also valleys we trudge through where the hope of reaching a vision-filled summit seems illusive.
I've gone through some emotionally challenging things the first quarter of this year that have left me feeling rather precarious and caused me to question my goals and aspirations. Sitting down with friends who don't mind tears and are comfortable with vulnerability makes all the difference in the world. Three hours, a glass of wine and mascara-stained cheeks later I emerged with encouragement pulsing in my heart.

So, what does that have to do with this fabulous pie?  One of my friends is working through the grief of knowing her mother has a terminal illness, and it dialed up memories of losing my own mother several years ago. I told my friend I feel the closest to my mother when I'm in the kitchen with my hands in dough. My mother was an incredible baker of pies and bread, working hard to supplement my father's income as a farmer. The smells of fresh bread and pie baking in the oven are stamped on all the memories of my childhood.  When I bake, I feel she is right there with me, looking over my shoulder, feeling proud I am carrying on her legacy.

This pie is based on my mother's Rhubarb Custard Pie recipe, which was a favorite of hers in the Spring. Throughout my life, I have resolutely held to the belief I did not like rhubarb, but with this pie I have debunked that misconception stemming from childhood. I've added some strawberries, and I infused the cream with fresh thyme. Instead of her usual crumb topping, I've added meringue. It's decadent. And I've now decided I love rhubarb.

Here's to good friends, and mothers everywhere whose love is with us always, even if only in our hearts.





Recipe...




Rhubarb, Strawberry & Thyme Custard Meringue Pie 


Rhubarb, Strawberry & Thyme Custard Meringue Pie 

Ingredients

2 cups rhubarb, chunked
1 cup strawberries, chunked
3 egg yolks at room temperature, beaten (save whites for the meringue)
1 cup cream
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Fresh thyme leaves stripped from three stems (about 1 - 2 teaspoons)
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust (Go here for my Never-Fail Pie Crust)

Process

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a baking (cookie) sheet in the oven.

In a small heavy-bottomed sauce pan, heat the cream and the thyme leaves until cream is almost bubbling. (It will be steaming.) Remove from heat, cover and allow to steep for about five minutes. Pour the cream through a strainer and discard the thyme leaves. Set cream aside.

Chunk the fresh rhubarb and strawberries and pour into an unbaked crust.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks. Add the sugar and flour and stir to combine. Slowly whisk in the cooled cream (it's okay if still warm) and the vanilla. Pour this mixture over the fruit in the pie crust. 

Place pie in oven on baking sheet and bake for 50 - 55 minutes.

Meringue

3 eggs whites at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

When the pie is about ten minutes away from being done, prepare the meringue. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and then the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until the whites turn into glossy peaks. Lastly, add the vanilla and give it a couple more whirs until incorporated. 

Assembly

When the pie has baked, remove it from the oven. Spread the meringue gently over the top, swirling towards the crust to seal the edges. Place in oven and bake for 10 - 15 minutes, until golden.

Allow to cool before cutting.  Store in the refrigerator.


















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