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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Beebop-a-reebop Rhubarb Pie!

Rhubarb Custard Pie – Pies & Pastries, Pg. 200 – Jean C. Rafuse (Mrs. E. W.)

Anyone else get that little song stuck in their head whenever you’re cooking with rhubarb? Mama’s little baby loves rhubarb rhubarb – bebop-a-reebop rhubarb pie! Yeah-No? Probably just Peter…

One of the first veggies of the harvest season in Nova Scotia is Rhubarb! We’re all over this celery-like tart vegetable. We recently loaded up during a trip to the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market and began our rendezvous with rhubarb. Top of our to-do list - rhubarb pie!

We had lots of rhubarb so we decided to double-double our rhubarb pleasure and double-double your delightment by preparing two different rhubarb pie recipes. The Dutch Oven’s Rhubarb Custard Pie will be the focus of this post. The second, from our favorite go-to cookbook – America’s test kitchen’s Rhubarb Custard Pie coming soon…

The first step to making a perfect pie is choosing the pie crust – the foundation to any great pie! Check out our Easy as Pie post for a couple of excellent suggestions. For this particular pie we used Julia Child’s Classic Pie Dough recipe. You’ll need to blind bake your pie crust for this one…and we don’t mean bake your pie crust while blind-folded – Yikes! – no need for third degree burns and a visit to the emergency room. Blind baking is the process of pre-baking your pie crust – a common process for custard or cream pies to ensure a flaky and golden pie crust. After placing the dough in the pie dish, cover with a double layer of foil (ensuring the crust is completely covered to avoid over-browning). Pie weights or pennies are then placed in the middle of the crust to ensure the bottom of the crust doesn’t bubble and weaken. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 mins.

Despite a few reservations during the preparation of this recipe, it was delicious. The ruby-red rhubarb custard filling was perfectly tart - combined with the sweetness of the mile-high meringue topping made this pie a blue ribbon winner for sure!


2 cups choppe
d rhubarb (we added an extra cup)
3 eggs (separated)
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp cornstarch


Combine sugar and cornstarch and mix with chopped rhubarb. Cook mixture in a double boiler until creamy. Add butter, mix. In a bowl lightly beat egg yolks and slowly add rhubarb mixture to beaten egg yolks. Return mixture to double boiler and continue to cook until thickened. Pour into prepared pie shell. Using the egg whites prepare a meringue.

No recipe was provided for the meringue, so we used this one from America’s Test Kitchen’s Family Cookbook. A little fussy, but delicious and worth the extra effort. If you’re not overachievers like we are, just whip your egg whites with some sugar and have at it.


1/3 cup water
1 tbsp cornstarch
4 egg whites
½ tsp vanilla
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp cream of tarter


Bring the water and the cornstarch to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking frequently. When the liquid turns translucent and begins to bubble, remove it from the heat (ours got really thick).

Whip the egg whites and vanilla in an electric mixer on low speed until frothy. Mix the sugar and cream of tartar together, then add it to the egg whites, 1 tbsp at a time. Increase the speed to medium and whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the cornstarch mixture to the whipped egg whites, 1 tbsp at a time, and continue to whip until the egg whites are glossy and form stiff peaks.

Drop dabs of meringue evenly around the edge of the pie and spread around the centre. Use the back of a spoon to create attractive peaks in the meringue. Return the pie to the oven until meringue is golden.

Dutch Oven Tips & Tricks:

While not everything made sense to us in this recipe…it worked. We weren’t convinced that a double boiler is necessary. The same results should be able to be achieved using a regular pot directly on the stove top. This recipe is a little light on the rhubarb, using a standard 9 inch pie pan, we used 3 cups instead of the recommended 2, and still found it a little light on the filling.

If you like rhubarb (or even if you don’t – Jan thought she didn’t like rhubarb until she had this pie) – get your bebop on and fix yourself a rhubarb pie!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Baby Jan and the Saga of Lettuce & Cream

Lettuce and Sour Cream Salad – Old Lunenburg Dishes, Pg. 20 – Catherine M. Creighton (Mrs. H. A.)

Once upon a time there was an excruciatingly fussy child when it came to mealtime. So much so that the child’s grandmother would often fix a completely separate meal to accommodate the child's discerning palette. Despite this minor flaw, the over-indulged child would gobble up lettuce and cream, a favorite side dish to many a meal. Alright...if you haven’t already guessed - it’s Jan…but in Jan’s defence she suffered some traumatic foodie experiences as a child - from being bamboozled into eating meatballs to being tricked into drinking butter milk. As a result she suffers from PTFD (post traumatic foodie disorder).

Back in the day, vegetable gardens were much more common. Baby Jan would watch in amazement as her elderly relatives (she’s got good genes) – hoes in hand, painstakingly tended to their gardens, abundant with potatoes, corn, rhubarb, beans, leaf lettuce, the list goes on. What now seems like a novelty to grown-up Jan, they would slip outside and pluck a head of lettuce from the garden and then whip up this sweet and tangy side dish.

Thirty years later, the world has come full circle - organic, sustainable, local are all the buzz. Growing your own produce doesn’t have to be difficult. Head out to your local gardening store or farmers’ market, pick up a few seed packs or starter plants, and plant a rewarding and delightful patch of heaven. Then you too can dazzle your family and guests with this tasty and super quick side dish made with fresh ingredients from your own backyard.

Lettuce and Sour Cream Salad


One head of leaf lettuce (washed and cut in thick shreds)

Make a dressing of:
3 tbsp of vinegar
½ cup sugar (scant)
½ cup sour cream


Mix well and pour over the lettuce; mix slightly. More or less sugar and vinegar may be added to suit the individual taste.

Dutch Oven Tips & Tricks:

We know you’ve been waiting for the right moment to show off your chiffonade skills – well here it is! Don’t just cut the lettuce; slice it with your favorite chef’s knife (a Santoku perhaps – we just like to say the word Santoku in a crazy Iron Chef Japanese accent - try it! We really enjoyed the texture of the shredded lettuce. But, not a requirement whatsoever – but easier to eat we think. The only downside to this salad is that if there are leftovers, the dressing separates and looks, ahh - not so appetizing (coming from the adult version of the over indulged fussy eater) – so we recommend making it fresh to go-go or giving any leftovers to your not so favorite neighbor.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cool-as-a-Cuke Salad

Cucumber Salad – Old Lunenburg Dishes, Pg. 20 – Catherine M. Creighton (Mrs. H. A.)

Cucumber salad - a common fresh summer salad, is prepared in many different ways. The Dutch Oven version of the cucumber is tied to Nova Scotia’s German heritage, derived from the German version of the salad know as gurkensalat. If anyone knows cucumbers it’s the Germans – right? They even hide pickles on their Christmas trees – seriously – “hide the pickle” or some sort of nonsensical business like that. Moving on…

As we prepared for this blog, we learnt that people are passionate about their cucumber salad. The popularity of cucumbers at our end of the world is really no surprise. This hearty vegetable is plentiful in gardens around Nova Scotia and has a long growing season from June through September. We like our cukes! Well most of us anyway…the truth is…wait for it…Peter hates cucumbers!!!

We’ll give you a moment to take that in…

Peter’s been carrying that burden for a while. The secret is out, Peter’s a cuke hater. Judge not, lest ye be judged and cast the first cucumber as they say…or some nonsense like that. Moving on…

One person who doesn’t hate cucumbers - a cuke lovah one might say – is Jan. She’ll eat’em raw, sliced, diced, chopped or pickled (Peter also likes pickles, although not a fan of pickled peppers for obvious reasons). In any case, differences have been put aside for the love of the Dutch Oven. Cuke haters and lovers unite to bring you the people’s beloved cucumber salad (gurkensalat).

Cucumber Salad

3 medium cucumbers
1 tsp salt
1 small onion chopped finely (optional)

4 tbsp cider vinegar
½ cup white sugar
¼ tsp pepper
¾ cup sour cream


Peel 3 medium cucumbers and slice very thin. Cover with one tsp of salt and press with heavy weight for 2 hours. One small onion chopped finely may be added before pressing. Drain liquid from Cucumbers. Combine dressing and cucumbers. Add extra sugar or vinegar to taste.

Dutch Oven Tips & Tricks:

We used a mandolin to get a nice thin and even slice on our cucumbers. Our facebook page was aflutter with opinions regarding the addition of onions to the salad – despite popular opinion; we opted not to add the onion. We’re not fan of raw onion – sorry onion lovers. We had no idea how to press the cucumbers – so we MacGruber’d a press using two bowls, a pot and jar of oats – we’re in negotiations with Williams Sonoma to release the patent, so don’t get any ideas. We’ve since learned this can be done using a single object placed on top of the cucumbers – a facebook friend of the Dutch Oven suggested a pressing stone (whatever that is). Still think we’re onto something with our MacGruber press. Lastly, when it comes to draining the cukes, it’s kind of a personal preference. Some prefer to leave some of the liquid for added flavor, while other like to thoroughly drain them.

So get your gurke on ya’ll. This fresh summer side dish is super simple to prepare and guaranteed to leave you cool-as-a-cuke!