Saturday, July 09, 2011

Small-Town Rhubarb Days (and PIE!)

So, the cute little town of Sumner (where I work part-time) has crowned itself the "Rhubarb Pie Capitol of the US". It's probably true, as the town has a long history of growing most of the rhubarb for the country.

This weekend was the first ever "Rhubarb Days" in Sumner, and with the festival came antique tractors, face-painting and the ubiquitous Rhubarb Pie Bake-Off. (Besides pies, there were categories for cakes, cookies, cobblers, jams, sauces and beverages.)
The entry form simply stated "Judged on appearance, presentation, taste, originality and unique use of rhubarb".
So my baking-wizard Middle Sprout and I decided we'd enter! We can definitely do "original and unique".

Olivia made some OUTSTANDING Rhubarb Cupcakes with Key-Lime Buttercream Frosting, and I made Rhubarb Cheesecake-Pie with Coconut Shortbread Crust. (All vegan, recipes to follow) And they were AMAZING!

But, I'll spare you the suspense and tell you right up front, we did NOT win. Our creations were beautiful, delicious, original and unique. But probably TOO unique for a small-town Rhubarb Festival, as we were outvoted by the sweet little grey-haired ladies (and some guy named Bob) and their very traditional, "Betty-Crocker" looking, retro Americana pies and cakes. So next year we'll skip that whole "original and unique" thing...

Nevertheless, we shared the cupcakes and pie with my co-workers at "A Good Book" and they gobbled everything down and pronounced it spectacular. Which is better than winning in my book, any day.

If you're still interested, my NON-traditional, NON-prize-winning pie recipe follows - look for the cupcakes tomorrow, they are absolutely AMAZING!!!

**I'd also like to give a shout-out to the fine folks at Galaxy Nutritionals. Some time back, they sent me several cartons of their new VEGAN cream cheese to try out. SO YUMMY!!! Most of it sustained us deliciously us during the non-cooking chaos of our move, (as I totally forgot to buy food for the poor people stuck helping me!) But, I discovered I still had a container in the 'fridge, and it was part of the inspiration for this pie.

Rhubarb Cheesecake Pie

1 pie crust of your choice, baked and cooled
(I used this Coconut Shortbread crust and pressed it up the sides of the deep-dish pie pan and baked as directed. You'll note in the picture I got it JUST a little too dark)

1 1/2 cups water
4 Tablespoons Agar powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla

2 cups medium-fine chopped rhubarb
1 carton Galaxy Nutritionals Vegan Cream Cheese (or whatever vegan cream cheese product you have available)

In a large pan, heat water to a simmer, sprinkle in Agar powder and stir until dissolved with whisk. Add sugar and vanilla and bring mixture to a boil. Boil three minutes, adjusting heat so it doesn't boil over or scorch. Add rhubarb and cook another 3 - 4 minutes until rhubarb starts to soften. (Taste at this point, if still too tangy, add a bit more sugar).

Remove from heat, let rhubarb sit about 1/2 hr to an hour, until it starts to cool and thicken - check and stir every so often, you DON'T want it to solidify yet!

Once rhubarb mixture starts to set up and thicken, scoop out and set aside several tablespoons to use as a garnish/decoration; then add the carton of cream cheese and mix together with electric mixer. It will take about five minutes to incorporate all the cream cheese into the rhubarb mixture.

Pour rhubarb-cream-cheese mixture into cooled pie crust. Drizzle the set aside plain rhubarb mixture over the creamy mixture as garnish. (Mine turned out sorta blobby instead of "drizzled", so I sprinkled shredded coconut on top, too).

Chill overnight in fridge. Slice and serve.


T said...

Oh my goodness, that pie looks absolutely gorgeous! I love rhubarbs with all my heart, maybe I will have to give Sumner a visit!

Jen said...

I have not had much luck with rhubarb. It always seems too tough and not that tart. I wonder what I'm doing wrong. That pie sure does look good! said...

Mmmm rhubarb is one of my favourite ever veggies, I love it stewed, in pie, as jam...yum!