Saturday, May 24, 2014

RECIPE: Mini Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I was inspired by the pie I had at Savor, and I was interested in seeing if I could rise to the challenge of making my first pie.  When I went grocery shopping the week after getting back from DC, I happened to run into Rhubarb on sale.  I bought two big stalks, realized that the recipe called for 5, and ended up having to go back to the store the next day for more.  These were giant stalks, though, and actually, 2 ended up being like twice as many as I needed, so I really could've done with just 1.  I've never worked with Rhubarb before and wasn't even sure what it looked like, prior to encountering it at Savor.  I did what cooks do - try it before cooking with it.  It was super sour, like a fibrous star fruit, except even more sour.  Looking back, I wonder if Rhubarb is something that needs to ripen, or if it's always like that.  I couldn't wait to bake it all week, but I wanted to do it with my sister, who was visiting on a Thursday night before we went down to Charleston.


For the Crust
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 Earth Balance vegan butter, cut up
6 tablespoons ice water
Olive Oil for coating the muffin tin
1 large egg, for egg wash
For the Strawberry-Rhubarb Filling
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into a tiny dice
1 stalk rhubarb, trimmed, and cut into a tiny dice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tbsp of Brandy

1. To make the crust, mix the flour, salt, sugar, and vegan butter.  Add the water, and mix.  Add a bit more water if you need to... I'm notorious for not measuring stuff.
2. Ball it up and roll it out into two disks that you refrigerate for an hour.
3. Flour a cutting board, and roll out the dough, so that it's about 1/8-1/6 of an inch thick. As you roll it out, dash a bunch of cinnamon on it.
4. Cut circles that are about 3.5-4 in across, cookie-cutter-style.  If you don't have a cookie cutter, improvise by using a knife around something circular.  Don't use up all the dough.  You need to save some for the lattices.
5. Stick the circles in a muffin tin greased with olive oil.

6. Cut up the strawberries and the rhubarb stalk.  Add orange zest, orange juice, and brandy (I couldn't taste it, so no need, probably).

7. Stick the filling in the pies... be generous and stuff it, because the heat will dehydrate it and leave the pie a bit cavernous.  I wish I had filled in more than I did.  I ended up using only half of the filling that you see in the picture above.
8. Hope you saved your dough.  Roll it out, and cut long strips that you can weave over the filling.
9. Cover the crust that shows, with egg wash.
10. Bake for about an hour, at 350 degrees.

Pair with a strawberry beer that's not too sweet.

It's flaky and nice with Yogurt, too.

SAVORing DC 2014

I've been exploring craft beer for the past year, trying different styles, countries of origin, flavors, glassware, processes, etc.  It started with admiring the beauty of the glassware, where brewers would stamp their logos with pride, and where the markings indicating volume indicated a love of precision and fine craft.  A tour of the Heineken museum taught me about the brewing process.  I loved watching Brewmasters, which followed the brewing adventures of Sam Calagione as he tried re-creating beers of ancient civilizations and followed wherever his creativity led.  I visited the Dogfish Head brewery in Milton, DE, to see where the magic was made.  On one of the Brewmasters episodes, they featured Savor, a premier craft beer and food experience held in DC, and I added that to my bucket list.  It was also a great excuse to visit a friend.

The flight in to DCA is always very special, because you feel like you're landing right in the middle of all the monuments.

Spent the next morning exploring the Botanical Gardens, which has way more than I thought it did.  I had only been to the outside portion in the past, but inside the greenhouses, they have different sections for different ecosystems, and it was cool.

(the Orchids are my favorite)

 (Baby pineapple - so cute!  And so odd, how you plant a pineapple, and another one grows on top of it)

Next, we enjoyed lunch at the Bluejacket/Arsenal brewpub, which has an impressive array of styles.  I tried a cask-aged Pyro, which is a "sour saison with subtle smoke, a zesty farmhouse ale boasting piquant acidity and a touch of smoke, fermented with a blend of saison ale yeast and brettanomyces claussenii for a beguiling nose of mango, tangerine, and perfumed spice, gently nuanced with oak and beechwood smoked malt, and chinook and citra hops."  Lots going on.  Not something I'd drink a lot of, but it was quite an experience.

(Veggie burger)

Then, we went back to the apt to do some watercolor & colored penciling, inspired by what we saw in the gardens (that was the plan all along).

Watched some fencing in the evening.

Next day, went out for a walk, followed by a run to the mall and then the East Potomac golf course.

It was super slow (couldn't get my speed up for some reason... maybe still recovering from Spartan?), but I got in 7.3 in 1:16:28, 10:28 ave.  It was cloudy.

That evening, we went to Savor 2014.  It was awesome.  

Here was my initial approach:
- Try a variety of dishes (bison with mole, veggies, desserts), to get a feel for how beer can go with a variety of foods
- Start with lighter beers, then move to darker beers
- Try some of the dishes multiple times, to see how different brewers approached the pairing
- In pairings, I would look for beers that would complement and contrast.

Well, that went out the window a little bit, because there was just so much there to take in.  I wish I had prepped a bit more, by printing out records of what I wanted to try.  Looking back, I also wish that I had maybe taken a bit more time to savor the beer and the food and the beer and the food together.  It was maybe a bit rushed... there was so much to try, though.

Turkey Braised in Mole
Turkey breast braised in a fragrant mole of dried chiles, tomato, almonds, Mexican chocolate and toasted pumpkin seeds.
- Good with light, not-too-hoppy beers, so that you can still notice the complexities of mole.
- Also good with dark roasty beers, where the roast enhances the chocolate and spieces of the mole.

Espresso-Crusted Bison on Black BreadBison loin crusted in espresso and seared. Served on a very thin black bread crisp with plum chutney.
- It tasted like BBQ, and the meat was not what I thought bison tasted like.  Not bad, but surprising, so the pairing kind of got lost in the surprise.

Charred Masala Cauliflower with DatesCauliflower florets seasoned with masala and charred. Served with dates and Greek yogurt.
- Very creamy, because of the Greek yogurt.  That's mostly what I got out of the food itself.   Something that creamy... maybe a bit hard to pair with.   Or, I just haven't found a good one yet.  I normally wouldn't eat something so creamy, anyway.

Broccoli Rabe and Pancetta Stuffed MushroomsOven roasted mushrooms stuffed with a mixture of broccoli rabe, pancetta, mushrooms and shallot.
- Delicious.  Don't remember much about the beer.

Hamachi CrudoThin slices of Hamachi with finely diced cucumber, radish and bok choy. Finished with a black pepper vinaigrette.

Salmon CevicheChilled, lime-marinated salmon ceviche served with crème fraiche.
- Seafood, especially the raw ones, just weren't really doing it for me, pairing-wise that night.  Had lots of IPAs with it.  I'm not a big fan of the super-resinous and piney IPAs, in general.  I'm the odd one out, since the rest of the world loves IPAs.
Dark Chocolate BudinoConfection of creamy dark chocolate with a pinch of fleur de sel, covered in dark chocolate ganache.
- Amazing.  So amanzing, any beer will go well with it.

Pecan HushpuppiesFinely textured cornmeal studded with pecans and lightly fried.
- The hushpuppy was somehow oily yet dry, at the same time. No beer could fix that.

Strawberry Rhubarb PieTart shells filled with poached rhubarb and fresh strawberries.
- Nice, especially with a not-too-sweet strawberry beer, so that one wouldn't overpower the other.

Dark Chocolate and FeuilletineDense dark chocolate layered with crispy feuilletine and covered in chocolate ganache.
- Was "eh".  Deceivingly not very sweet. What does one do with that?

We also attended a salon, where we learned about the impact that glassware can have on the beer tasting/sensing experience.

It was hosted by Lefthand Brewing, as well as Dogfish Head!  The discussion was really good... tons of things about the design of the glass you wouldn't even have thought of.  There's so much to recap, that I'll just let you listen to it at, where they have all of the salons available in podcast form.

Got to meet Sam!

‘PHOTO © 2014 Eddie Arrossi’.

It was an awesome event.  Even though it's spendy and this was just meant to be a bucket list item, I think I may have to go again some time.

Last day, did some touring in DC, then walked around the National Arboretum.

Great weekend.

Spartan 300 Workout Tour

I was excited to hear that the Spartan Workout tour was coming within a 1.5 hour range of me... 2 sites on the same weekend, one on Saturday in Charlotte, NC, and one on Sunday in Colombia, SC.  It's a 2-hr workout meant to give people a taste of the camaraderie, excitement, and physical exertion of a Spartan race.  It's an awesome promotional tool, and it was awesome fun.  I ended up only being able to make it to the Sunday one, because of two other events I wanted to attend on Saturday, but coming out of Sunday, I knew there was no way I could've handled two of them back-to-back, anyway.

Workouts that week:

I might've pushed a bit too hard in the Y2Y Half Marathon.  With races, elites may not push 100%, if the race isn't PR material, and the main thing is to win.  It's more tactical.  Some are against giving anything less than your best, but I can understand the tactical approach, too.  You can only empty the piggy bank so many times effectively.  You can do lots of 85% races and recover quickly, but a 100% race will take you out for a while.  I pushed hard in this one, because it was fun front-running, and I didn't want to risk losing it.  Ends up I had a good time cushion, so I didn't have to push that hard, but I wasn't looking back to see if anyone was chasing.

Sunday, Apr 27, day after the race:
My inner thighs and hammies and calves were sore, but I felt good enough to do a Zombies, Run game.  It ended up being good for flushing out my legs, with decent chases, too.  4.5 in 39:50, 8:56 ave.

Tuesday - my right bursa started hurting during the afternoon at work, for some reason, and I couldn't walk without limping.  This is when I figured that I had overdone it at the race.  I decided to sleep earlier than normal, got 11 hours, and hoped that the sleep would heal it.  Foam rolling seemed to help a wee bit.

Wednesday, Apr 30
Did a 1-hr strength session.  Right bursa was feeling mostly better today, although my right back was very tight all day.  The strength session seemed to help a little bit.

Thursday, May 1
This recovery run was cardiovascularly harder than it should've been, up until the last couple of laps.  Felt kind of "bleh" in the morning and wondered if I was sick (I wonder that a few times per year, although I only get sick once every 4 or so years). Still did Zobies.  5.1 in 46:01, 9:01 ave.

Friday - legs too worn to run.  Would've run otherwise.

Saturday - MS walk and company picnic.

Sunday, May 4, Spartan 300 Workout
Drove 1.5 hours.  Got my "I'm training for a Spartan Race" t-shirt, found a shady spot to do my exercises.


(The Spartans are coming!)

The workout consisted of: Running in place, jumping jacks, burpees, military pushups, wrestler pushups which are pretty cool, a bunch of walking lunges that left me hobbling for a couple of days, animal moves (gorilla, inchworm, bear crawl, seal), high knees, front/back jumping jacks, running.  In total, we supposedly did over a hundred burpees.

Afterwards, to get in some miles for the weekend, I ran around the Saluda Shoals park where the workout was held.  I had driven 1.5 hours, so might as well take advantage of it.  I went 4.4 in 48:33, 11:05 ave.  You can tell the workout sapped my running speed/strength.

It was a good workout.  Lots of fun.  An encouraging atmosphere, with everyone cheering each other on.  Good workout leader.  Would make the 3hr roundtrip and go again.

Monday-Tuesday - I was walking around work, as if I had done a marathon the previous day.... actually, it's probably worse DOMS than what I've experienced in a marathon.  I think it was all of the walking lunges.  It was like rigor mortis was setting in.  My body was craving cardio by Tuesday, though.

Wednesday, May 7
Body started loosening up today.  I could almost walk normally and finally go down stairs again.  I figured that I'd run super slow outside.  It went surprisingly well, though, and I could even manage the zombie chases.  6.0 in 53:53, 8:55 ave.