The Farmer's Market is Open!

Spring is here and the first hints of summer weather are upon us punctuated by the return of the Paducah Farmers Market. I always look forward to going downtown on Saturday morning to shop for fresh produce, oven fresh bread and whatever else catches my eye. 

If you aren’t a regular at the Farmers Market, it isn’t like going to the grocery even though you are shopping for food. The produce farmers bring to sell is whatever fruits and vegetables are currently in season and ready to sell. But fruits and vegetables aren’t the only thing you can find at the Farmers Market. On any given day, you will see everything from fabric goods to pottery, fresh roasted coffee to sticky buns, and organic meats to Asian carp.

Springtime at the Market

At this point in the season many of the vendors won’t be selling produce. Remember it is early in the growing cycle, so don’t go down expecting to find locally grown corn or tomatoes in early May (even though some booths will have them). You will find plenty of lettuces, cabbages, and if you time it right, some delicious fresh strawberries. You may also find organic meats, chicken and eggs with any luck.

Shop Early

As with any farmer’s market, the best stuff goes quickly. You want to get there early for the best selection (They open at 7:30 am). Saturday is the best day to shop because more vendors are participating – but remember the market is open during the week. Shopping early is also a good way to beat the heat.

Oh, the strawberries!

Thanks to modern refrigeration and trucking, you can have strawberries almost year-round, but nothing beats those sweet little ruby red berries fresh from the fields. Strawberries are in season and there are several vendors at the farmer’s market selling them by the bucket.

I love fresh strawberries just about any way they are prepared. Can you say “no” to fresh strawberries on a short cake, or swimming in rich heavy cream? I can’t but one of my favorites is a Strawberry Rhubarb pie.

The real trick with this pie is getting the balance of the tart rhubarb with the sweetness of the strawberries. You need a bit more rhubarb than strawberries to get the right flavor or the pie will be too sweet. The lemon zest helps to round out the flavor.

You are welcome to make your crust by hand but I’m taking a short cut and using a packaged soft pie shell to save some time. So, get out this Saturday and visit the Farmer’s Market. I may see you there.

Live, Laugh, Love, and Eat Well.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Courtesy of Bon Appetit

Dough ingredients

  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 TBSP granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ¼ cup cold vodka
  • 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup ice water

Filling Ingredients

  • All-purpose flour for dusting
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ LBS rhubarb, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 LB strawberries, hulled, halved or quartered if large
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 5 TBSP cornstarch
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • Pinch of Kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 TBSP raw or granulated sugar

Preparing the Dough: Whisk flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Toss butter in dry ingredients using your fingers until the butter is coated evenly. Working quickly and aggressively, rub butter into the dry ingredients to create large, shaggy pieces of dough.

Stir together the vodka, vinegar, and ¼ cup ice water (or use ½ cup ice water only) in a small bowl.  Drizzle the mixture over the dough, then mix with a fork until shaggy pieces begin to form. Knead in the bowl with your hands a couple of times until the dough forms (it will look dry). Transfer the large clumps of dough to a work surface. Drizzle one TBSP of ice water over the remaining dough in the bowl and knead it again to bring it together.  Add to the dough on the work surface.

Divide the dough in half. Working with one half, press into a single mass, incorporating the dry bits, then pat down to make a ¾ inch thick disk and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Chill at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.

Filling and Assembly

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Let the dough sit out at least 5 minutes to soften. Working one at a time, roll out dough disks on a lightly floured surface to a 1/8-inch thickness. Place each on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and chill while preparing filling.

Scrape vanilla seeds into a large bowl; reserve pod for another use. Add rhubarb, strawberries, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, and salt and toss it all together to coat.

Carefully line one round, deep dish pie pan. Lift the edges to allow dough to slump down into the pan. If the dough is too cold, allow it to warm a bit. Gently press dough into edges of the dish, if needed. Trim the outside of the dough but leave a 1-inch overhang for crimping. Gently scrape the filling into the pie pan and smooth the top. Lay the remaining round over the filling and trim leaving about ½-inch overhang. Fold edge of the bottom round over the top crust; press together to seal and crimp if desired.

Beat egg with 1 tsp of water in a small bowl and lightly brush over the top of the dough. Sprinkle with raw sugar.

Transfer pie dish to a foil lined rimmed baking sheet (to catch the overflowing juices) and chill 10 minutes. Cut a few slashes in the top of the pie for venting. Bake pie for 5 minutes then reduce the temperature to 375 F. Continue to bake until crust is deep golden brown and juices are thick and bubbling, 75 to 90 minutes longer.

When finished baking, transfer the pie pan to a wire rack and let cool at least 4 hours before serving. If you cut it while it’s still warm, this pie will literally run all over the plate.  You can make it a day ahead and store at room temperature covered with foil.