TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Diana Williams is a real woman. No, make that more of a Wonder Woman minus the fancy cuffs. Let’s review her statistics: Stunningly gorgeous, owns a service station and food mart (that shiny Chevron, right at the east end of Donner Lake) and she bakes a killer pie. She is also a wife and mother, but I am too overwhelmed by the thought of coveralls by day and baker’s apron by night to wrap my head around those additional responsibilities. I mean, I am thrilled if my socks for the day are the same thickness. When I first walked into her Chevron station hot on the heals of a pie tip, Diana did not want to be a part of this column. It took the urgings of her daughter Ashley (“Come on Mom, wear your white top!”) and an employee (“Her pies are unreal!”) to sway her. In the end, Diana did take a break from ordering our Fourth of July gas supply and agreed to not only share the recipe, but also prepare her special occasion Strawberry Rhubarb pie on a non-holiday Monday. Well, I was celebrating…
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
This is going to be my new best friend at summer barbecues (yes, trolling for invites.)
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 Tbls. quick cooking tapioca
3 cups rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
Pastry for double crust pie
2 Tbls. butter
Preparation: Stir together sugar, nutmeg, tapioca and dash salt. Add sugar mixture to strawberries and rhubarb pieces; toss to coat fruit. Let stand 15 minutes. Fill pastry lined 9-inch pie pan with fruit mixture; dot with butter. Put on and adjust top crust. Seal and flute the edge. Cover edge of pie with foil. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an conditional 25 minutes, or until golden. Serve warm.
Rick Rucker’s “Secret Ingredient” Apple Pie
I have had many different apple pies, in many different time zones, with all kinds of fancy names, but this one puts them all to shame. The secret? A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a quick pre-cook of the fruit and spices.
2 Tbls. unsalted butter
2 1/2 pounds of apples (five large Honeycrisps will do the trick) peeled and cored, then cut into wedges
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cups sugar, plus 1 Tbls.
2 Tbls. flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 Tbls. apple cider vinegar
1 egg lightly beaten
Pastry for double crust pie.
Preparation: Whisk together spices, salt and 2/3 cup sugar and set aside. Melt butter in large saute pan over medium heat. Add apples to the pan, stir to coat. Sprinkle spice/sugar mixture over apples, lower heat and cook (stirring) for 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle flour and cornstarch over all and continue cooking another 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add vinegar, stir and scrape all into bowl to cool. Fill pastry lined 9-inch pie pan with fruit mixture; put on and adjust top crust. Seal and flute the edge. Cover edge of pie with foil. Brush top crust with egg wash and sprinkle on 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake at 425° for 20 minutes and then remove foil from crust edge, reduce temperature to 375° and continue baking for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool two hours before serving.
Super easy Blueberry Cobbler
Should be served warm over a good vanilla ice cream or Safeway’s Lemon Cheesecake ice cream.
3 cups fresh blueberries
1 Tbls. lemon juice
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 egg beaten
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbls. butter, melted
Preparation: Place blueberries in 10x6x2 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Combine flour, sugar and egg. Stir until mix resembles coarse meal. Spread over blueberries. Drizzle butter over topping. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes.