Dessert for Dad
With four sons ranging in age from 12 1/2 to 30, I always look forward to Father's Day. And even though I often enjoy preparing food at home for my boys and my wife Gelila, I'm happy to say that all of my offspring enjoy cooking themselves -- especially my second son, Byron, who completed a culinary degree and has joined the restaurant world.
So, chances are that on Father's Day I'll be reaping the benefits that so many dads enjoy: being treated to a meal that my kids cook. I hope if you're a dad yourself, or are planning a special day for your father or husband, that cooking will figure into your family's plans too.
Often, and traditionally, there's some sort of backyard barbecuing, a natural with grilling season just started. Of course, by default, Dad usually becomes the one who has to mastermind the Father's Day cookout, since the outdoor grill is traditionally thought of as his responsibility. (Of course, there are also many women who love to grill!)
But I'd like to suggest a different sort of cooking activity this year; one that doesn't require building a fire or Dad getting smoke in his eyes. Instead, how about staying in the kitchen, preheating the oven and baking a pie?
It's hard to find a dad who doesn't enjoy a slice of homemade pie, especially when it's one featuring the best produce of the season. At this time of year, that usually means strawberries.
Most of the strawberry pies you see, though, are of the fresh, cold variety: a prebaked pie shell filled with whole glazed berries and topped with whipped cream. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, except it's called a pie primarily because a pastry shell is its serving vehicle.
So instead, why not bake a pie that's filled with bubbling hot berries?
One reason you don't see many strawberry pies with a baked filling is that the berries on their own break down quickly and reduce to something resembling strawberry jam. I prefer doing what my mother and grandmother did: combining the strawberries with chunks of rhubarb.
Rhubarb is a reddish stalk resembling celery in shape, but it has a wonderfully tart taste. When sweetened with some sugar, the flavor harmonizes beautifully with the strawberries and gives the finished pie filling wonderful body. In fact, in years past, some cooks referred to rhubarb as "pie plant." You can find fresh rhubarb in most well-stocked markets. (Just be sure to trim off all traces of the leaves, which contain toxic compounds.)
May you enjoy this pie on Father's Day with your family, as I hope to do with mine. Thank you, Cameron, Byron, Oliver and Alexander!