We call her “the biscotti lady,” because Rosanne LeBlanc makes soft, luxurious biscotti draped in chocolate, crowned in fresh nuts. She also makes homemade turtles, little candy drifts of chocolate, caramel and nuts. She does all this baking in a beautiful home in West Gloucester, the centerpiece of which is an enormous brick chimney harboring an old cast iron cookstove and a pizza oven. Rosanne loves to cook; her kitchen says it all.
Still, I am changing her tag to “the strawberry rhubarb pie lady.” LeBlanc recently served me a slice of this springtime classic, a delicious end to a Memorial Day cookout or picnic, which was the perfect balance of sweet to tart. A streusel topping beneath the lattice top gave a nutty crunch, complement to the unavoidable slippery feel of cooked rhubarb. There was no bottom crust to get soggy; simply this wonderful crisp topping of pecans, crumb, and pastry.
Rhubarb pie is so popular that in some parts of the country the herbaceous perennial is called “pieplant.” Most people know that the leaves, containing high levels of oxalic acid, are toxic, but the edible stems harbor calcium oxalate, which interferes with calcium absorption. I would consider someone a lucky person if they were having strawberry rhubarb pie every night, but in reality they shouldn’t for the sake of their skeleton. Or perhaps this is a good excuse to double the amount of ice cream on top.
Rosanne’s biscotti and turtles can be purchased on her website, rosannesbiscotti.com, or at The Cave on Main Street in Gloucester.
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Makes 2 pies
4 cups peeled and cut rhubarb
11/2 cup sugar (divided)
4 cups strawberries, washed and cut
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons tapioca
2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup ground pecans
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup Crisco (more if needed)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
non-stick baking spray for the pie pan
1 pie crust recipe for the lattice tops
Egg and sugar for the crust
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Peel and cut rhubarb. Cook with about 1/3 cup sugar for about 5 minutes.
Wash and cut strawberries into large pieces. Add to rhubarb.
Mix about ½ c. flour along with 1 c. sugar and 2 tsp. tapioca
Add fruit to this mixture. Pour into two pie dishes sprayed non-stick spray.
Mix together the topping ingredients with fingers until crumbly.
Sprinkle this over pies.
Cut your favorite pie crust recipe into strips and lattice over the whole pies.
Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with white sugar.
Bake for approximately 40 minutes.
Rockport resident Heather Atwood writes the Food for Thought column weekly. Questions and comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her blog at HeatherAtwood.com.