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by Heather Harris Brady

I came up with this recipe when I was trying to get around using a pie glaze with artificial red dye. I try to avoid the artificial dyes whenever I can, and I was thinking of all the naturally red things I’d made when I hit upon hibiscus punch. The dried flowers give off a beautiful red color and a nice faint floral note that accents the strawberries.

If you have trouble finding the dried flowers in your grocery store any Mexican/latino market should have them. I included a rhubarb cream layer at the bottom of this pie, but if you want to make it entirely with strawberries you can. This is a refrigerator pie, so it’s great for the hot days when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen.

Strawberry-Hibiscus Pie, Makes one 9″ pie

One crumb pie crust (storebought or made with vanilla wafers)

  • For the bottom layer:
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 c. diced rhubarb
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c. heavy cream
  • 1 pkg. unflavored gelatin, soaked in 1/4 c. cold water
  • For the glaze:
  • 1 c. dried hibiscus flowers (also called Jamaica flowers)
  • 2 c. water
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 pkg. unflavored gelatin
  • 1-1/2 quarts fresh local strawberries, cleaned and sliced in half

Make the hibiscus water: Combine the flowers and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then set aside to steep for an hour.

Strain the flowers out with a fine strainer. Reserve 1/3 c. of the water and set it all aside.

Combine the 1/2 c. water and 1/2 c. sugar in a saucepan. Poach your rhubarb pieces over medium heat.

When they are just tender (about 8-10 minutes), take them off the heat.

Add the hibiscus water you reserved earlier, for color, and the soaked gelatin. Let cool to room temperature.

Beat the cream to soft peaks, then beat in the cream cheese.

Fold in the rhubarb mixture…

…and turn it all into the pie shell. Refrigerate until the bottom layer is set (at least an hour).

When you’re ready to finish the pie stir one package of unflavored gelatin into 1/2 c. of the hibiscus water. Heat just until it’s dissolved and stir it back into the rest.

Put your hibiscus glaze into the refrigerator until it’s barely started to set.

Arrange your sliced strawberries over the bottom. I start with one layer and then start tucking them in from there.

Spoon the hibiscus glaze over the top. I did one layer of glaze, let it set in the refrigerator, and then touched it up with a second layer.

Refrigerate until the glaze is set and serve.

This pie keeps nicely in the refrigerator for up to four days.


Four years ago: Seeded Crackers
Three years ago: Strawberry Sorbet
Two years ago: Sopapillas
One year ago:  Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding


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by Heather Harris Brady

Guess who! I know, right? It’s been crazy, but I’ve come out on the other side of two graduation parties for my son and lots of other parties for graduating friends and family. I made most of the boy’s party food myself (with help from the aunts!), and I may get around to posting come menus and quantities. But not today my friends. Because today, while it’s still rhubarb season, you have to try this pie.

It is, in real life, the crazy red of the photo. It’s also crazy-good, and I’m not even that much of a pie person. There’s strawberries, raspberries and then a rhubarb filling holding it all together. It’s also no-bake, so if it’s hot where you are and you don’t have air conditioning either – you’re welcome!

I made this one with sugarfree raspberry gelatin, but you could sub in unflavored gelatin if you like. The redder your rhubarb the prettier the filling. If you have a dad in your life that loves pie, this would be a good choice (hint, hint).

Rhuberry Pie, Makes one 9″ deep dish pie

  • 3 c. diced rhubarb (1″ dice)
  • 1-1/4 c. water
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 box of sugar-free raspberry gelatin, or one packet unflavored gelatin
  • 1-1/2 c. fresh sliced strawberries
  • 1-1/2 c. fresh raspberries, washed and picked over
  • 1 graham cracker pie crust (9″ deep dish) (or sub in a GF crumb crust)
  • 1 c. heavy whipping cream

Combine the rhubarb, sugar and water in a saucepan.

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Simmer for about 8-10 minutes, until the rhubarb is just barely tender. Take out some of the liquid (about 1/2 c.) and stir the gelatin into it.

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Remove it from the heat.

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Fold the dissolved gelatin, strawberries and raspberries back in. Let it sit for a few minutes so the fresh berries can poach a tiny bit. Reserve 1/2 c. of the liquid. Put the rest of the filling in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, until it just starts to thicken.

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Pile the cooled filling into the pie shell. Cover the pie lightly and return it to the refrigerator to set completely. You can cut it in a couple hours, but if you can let it sit overnight you’ll get the cleanest slices.

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Beat the cream to soft peaks, then beat in the reserved liquid. It will stabilize the cream and turn it a lovely pink.

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Refrigerate the cream (covered) until you’re ready to serve the pie.

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Serve each slice cold with a dollop of cream. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

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Three years ago: Chocolate Eclairs
Two years ago: Michigan Fruit Pie
One year ago: English Muffins


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by Heather Harris Brady

The men in the house have been lobbying for a pie lately. I like to do rhubarb this time of year but I didn’t have enough left for a whole pie on its own. So I combined what I had with some beautiful fresh raspberries and a few apples that needed a job.

One note, I’m in the process creating a new basics page for essentials that I refer to time and time again. You’ll see that note below.

Michigan Fruit Pie, Makes one 9″ deep dish pie

*See new “Basics” page (coming soon, for now there are backlinks).

  • 2 c. rhubarb washed and chopped into 1″ sections
  • 1-1/2 pints fresh raspberries
  • 4 medium baking apples, peeled and sliced
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 3 T. fine tapioca

Fill a big mixing bowl with the fruit.

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Combine the flour, sugar and tapioca. Toss it with the fresh fruit gently.

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Preheat the oven to 375. Line a pie dish with the crust and flute the edge.

Pile in the fruit.

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Mix the streusel according to my “Basics” recipe and sprinkle it evenly over the top. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the fruit is tender all through.

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I’m really happy with the flour/tapioca combo as a thickener. It gave just the right consistency for nice clean slices that were not at all gummy. I’ll be looking into that some more.

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Store leftovers covered at room temperature.

One year ago: Chocolate Eclairs, French Pastry Week

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by Heather Harris Brady

Longtime readers will doubtless remember my rhubarb epiphany mentioned last year, but I couldn’t very well do that pie again. So, with a big, crispy bunch of rhubarb in hand I decided to dream up something else.

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Dorie Greenspan did a fig cake with a sauce reduction so I borrowed that idea and came up with this cake. If you’re new to brown butter you can find instructions under the link.

Fresh Rhubarb Cake, Makes one 8″ square cake

1 c. water
2/3 c. sugar
1 lb. rhubarb, cleaned and diced
1 T. lemon juice
1 ripe pear (optional)
3 green cardamom pods
1 stick butter, browned and cooled
¾ c. brown sugar
¼ c. white sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
2 t. baking powder
1-3/4 c. flour
½ c. plain yogurt
½ t. coriander
½ t. cardamom
½ c. crumbs (bread, cookie or cake)
Cinnamon

Combine the first two ingredients in a saucepan and bring them to a boil.

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Add the rhubarb and cook about five minutes, just until it starts to get tender. Dice the pear, toss it with the lemon juice then stir into the rhubarb mixture and set it aside.

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Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the sugars into the browned butter, then stir in the eggs and vanilla.

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Stir the flour and baking powder together. Stir half of it into the batter, then stir in the yogurt, followed by the remaining flour and the spices. You should have a thick, creamy batter.

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Grease an 8” square pan and spoon in the batter. Top it with the fruit, draining as much of the lovely pink poaching liquid as possible.

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Bake for about 20 minutes, or until nearly baked through. At that point sprinkle the crumbs and cinnamon on top, return to the oven for another 10 minutes or until the center is firm.

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While the cake is baking add the cardamom pods to the poaching liquid and boil quickly until reduced by half.

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Remove the pods and set the sauce aside.

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Serve the cake warm with a spoonful of sauce over the top.

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Store leftovers covered at room temperature. Since the cake is made with browned butter, the flavor is actually better the second day.

One year ago: Quick Cuban Black Bean Soup

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by Heather Harris-Brady

When I asked my husband what dessert he wanted for Father’s Day he considered a repeat of the rhubarb pie, but ended up going with one of his long-time favorites from the crumble-crisp family.  These are easy to throw together with whatever fruit is in season, since rhubarb and June raspberries overlap for a short moment in time I decided to take advantage of it. You could bake this in individual ramekins if you wanted it to look more elegant, but either way you’re going to get delicious warm fruit accented by the crunch of cinnamon crumbs.

You’ll want to use small pieces of rhubarb here, to make sure they cook through. If you have large pieces and you don’t want to cut them down you could poach them first with the sugar and 1/2 c. of water – then add 2 T. tapioca to the poaching liquid at the end.

Rhubarb Raspberry Crumble, Six Servings (One 8″ square pan)

1 pint fresh raspberries, washed and drained

Three cups of chopped rhubarb

1 c. sugar

2 T. tapioca

One recipe 1-2-3-4 streusel

Mix the sugar and tapioca together. Combine with the rhubarb and let stand 15 minutes.

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Preheat the oven to 375 and lightly grease a baking dish. Put the rhubarb in the bottom of the dish and layer the raspberries on top.

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Cover the raspberries with a thick blanket of streusel crumbs.

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Bake for about 40 minutes, until the rhubarb is tender and bubbling away in the bottom. The top should be lightly brown.

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Spoon into dishes and serve warm with a nice-sized scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

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by Heather Harris-Brady

My grandma was an amazing cook but she only used rhubarb one way, stewed. I hated it. It was a grayish runny mass with pink and green strings running through it. So the only way I ate rhubarb as a kid was raw, like a stalk of celery. Yes, it was super-sour but I’m weird like that.

One gorgeous day when we were still childless and fancyfree my DH and I were traipsing the backwoods of Ontario, as we were wont to do. We ended up at a little Irish restaurant somewhere around Stratford. Lunch was great (shepherd’s pie) and when the waitress asked about dessert I said, “Is there anything I shouldn’t miss?”

“The rhubarb pie’s pretty good,” she said. I winced a little, picturing a runny mass inside a crust so I only ordered one piece. It was a revelation. Tender chunks of rhubarb, sweet and sour at the same time. For the better part of a year I read rhubarb pie recipes to discover the secret. I ended up combining elements of several, but it was when I found a recipe for rhubarb custard pie that I knew I was close. So here you have it, tender chunks of rhubarb simmering under a blanket of crumbs and merging into a golden, molten whole. You could totally make it without the crust if you want. I think it’s best warm, with a little vanilla ice cream on the side. Try to select rhubarb stalks that are roughly the same size, or cut really large ones in half.

Rhubarb Streusel Pie, Makes one 9″ deep-dish pie

1/2 recipe Aunt Linda’s never-fail pie crust

4-1/2 c. rhubarb, cut in 1/2″ chunks

1-1/3 c. sugar

2 eggs

1/3 c. flour

2 t. vanilla

Streusel

1/2 c. flour

1/4 c. butter

1/3 c. sugar

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Preheat the oven to 425. Combine the rhubarb with the 1-1/3 c. sugar. Let stand 15 minutes. While the rhubarb is resting, roll out the crust and line a 9″ deep dish pie plate. Weight it and bake for five minutes.

Beat the eggs, flour and vanilla together. Stir it into the rhubarb.

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Pour it into the crust. Make the streusel: mix the flour and sugar together, cut in the flour until you have coarse crumbs. Spread them over the top of the pie.

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Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 and bake for another 30 minutes until the rhubarb is tender all the way through.

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This would make a great Father’s Day surprise, btw. I’ll just wait here while you go hunt down some rhubarb. . .

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