Monday, February 11, 2013

Cooking in Season: Strawberry Hand Pies

  Don't be mad, but strawberries are showing their fruits here in Florida. I know, the ground is covered in snow up north and I am eating strawberries?! I must be crazy. But really, I am not... not today at least. Since I have a new obsession with pies, I decided it would be great to make strawberry hand pies. There is something about mini pies that make everything more enjoyable.
  During the months of February and March, after most farmers have given the majority of their bounty to the grocery stores, "you-pick" farms will open their gates to those who want to brave the strawberry field. It can be a lot of work but for a ridiculously good price, it is well worth it. I will let you in on a little secret, these strawberries I am using are from last years harvest. I still have another gallon sized bag in my freezer, too. I have been slacking in the smoothie department lately, give me a break.
  Since we had a very warm winter last year, the strawberries weren't very sweet. These ones were juicy but more tangy than sweet. Nothing a little sugar and pie crust can't fix. Martha's recipe calls for corn starch but you know what? I don't like cancer corn, so I use arrowroot powder instead and it works just fine.
  Proper people may use a cookie cutter but I chose to use my handy pot lid. I didn't manage to fit six circles into the rectangle I rolled out, but after re-rolling out the trimming I was able to cut out the two remaining circles.
  After rolling and cutting out the dough, you will want to brush egg on half of the edge to act as a glue. Then place the strawberries on half of the circle, leaving some room to the edge. You want to do this after brushing the dough with the egg, if you do it before it will just get messy.
  Next is folding the dough over, pressing the dough with a fork, brushing with more egg and sprinkling with sugar then cutting a slit for those berries to breath.
  Don't they look yummy? I will warn you though, they are messy. Expect some strawberry explosions.
  Now you can gobble these up after a few minutes of cooling, which I recommend, or you can store them for a few days. I noticed that a day later the crust seems to get soggy and loses its delicious crispy texture. They are still good, but the texture just isn't there. Heating them up in the oven for 10 minutes seems to help bring some of that crispiness back, though.

Strawberry Hand Pies
adapted from Martha Stewart

4 1/2 cups whole strawberries, hulled and diced to make about 1 1/2 cups diced strawberries
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1/2 recipe Pate Brisee* (see below)
1 beaten egg
Course sugar for sprinkling

  Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  Stir strawberries, sugar and arrowroot powder together to combine, set aside.

  In between parchment paper or on a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a large rectangle until about 1/8th of an inch thick. Using a 5-inch cookie cutter (or whatever you have on hand) cut out six circles of dough.

  Transfer circles to prepared baking sheet. Brush one half of each circle with the beaten egg then place about 2 tablespoons of strawberries on the same half. Fold dough over and pinch ends together. Brush remaining egg over the top of the dough, sprinkle with course sugar and cut a slit in each hand pie.

  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool slightly before serving.

Pate Brisee

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup cold water

  Whisk together flour, sugar and salt. With a pastry blender, cut in cold butter until mixture is course and butter is pea-sized. Add in cold water and lightly knead to form dough into a ball. Cut dough in half. Shape each half into a cylinder and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for at least one hour or overnight.

*Note: Since this recipe calls for only half of the Pate Brisee, double wrap the other half in plastic wrap and store in the freezer for later use. When ready to use, pull out of freezer the day before.

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