be more intentional about baking with seasonal ingredients, and then almost missed rhubarb season! That would have been a shame.
It isn't as if I haven't played with rhubarb before. There were crisps, muffins, coffee cakes, and even mousse, but I had neglected what most people think of as standard rhubarb fare - the strawberry rhubarb pie.
I have always been skeptical of strawberry rhubarb pie. I'm not afraid of rhubarb and its tartness, and always thought strawberries were trying to cover it up. Just the same, I went on a hunt for a recipe. The only ones I could find were regional midwestern cookbooks, and I found several good looking recipes from Wall Drug in South Dakota, and The Black Hills Rosemalers Recipes book. I skipped the one that included maraschino cherries, despite its claim to being a "State Fair Award Winning Recipe."
Since this recipe started with uncooked fruit put into the pie crust (I used Julia Child's from Mastering the Art of French Cooking), rather than making some kind of gummy jammy mixture, the end result was quite lovely. Both the flavors of the strawberry and the rhubarb came through, and it seemed somehow light. (But please believe it is NOT light!)
I ended up with enough leftover rhubarb and crust either to make a few little tarts or one large tart, barely. So I decided to try the Rhubarb Custard Pie recipe from the Black Hills cookbook, with a few modifcations. Mainly I cut the recipe in half, cooked it in a tart pan, and didn't add a top crust. It had intrigued me originally but I felt obligated to do the standard pie first. I'm glad I got to do both, because this is the one I'd make again in a heartbeat. The sweet custard is a beautiful taste pairing with the sweet-tart rhubarb.
I'll include the original recipe, and you can do what I indicated above if you want to try making it in tart version.
Rhubarb Custard Pie
4 cups rhubarb (chopped)
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. butter
Make pie crust for 2 crust pie and line 9" pie plate. Mix rhubarb, sugar, and flour and put in pie tin. Beat eggs and milk slightly and pour over rhubarb mixture. Put on top crust or lattice top and dot with butter. Bake at 400 F for 50-60 minutes or until nicely browned. After 25 minutes, reduce heat to 350.