Houston is a bustling, sprawling, noisy city, not to mention the incessant heat and humidity. The bugs are bigger, the hair is bigger and the trucks are bigger in Texas. The freeways are endless and lie intertwined like snakes in a pit. In between this mess of concrete and metal, buildings sprout out of the ground like glass flowers, sparkling in the fierce sunshine.
However, on the south and southwest side of Houston, life is a little bit quieter and here you will find farm land scattered amongst new housing developments and small city centres. This is where we lived before we moved to Colorado. We were right in between farm land on one side and a big developing city on the other.
It was quite ideal actually; you felt you were in the country side with all the amenities of the big city. If it wasn’t for the bugs and the heat, I may have considered staying.
Just ten minutes down the road, we had access to a farm. I was ecstatic to find that you could pick your own strawberries, something I hadn’t done since I had left England. I took my children and let them experience the joy of picking their own fruit where more fruit makes it to the mouth than the basket!
Since Texas doesn’t really have seasons, this farm was open all year round and had a fabulous farm store. Twice a week I was there stocking up my refrigerator with farm fresh produce. Not only did this farm store have inexpensive, home grown produce and fresh beans (pinto, black eyed, creamer), they also had the best fried pies.
My husband could not resist these pies. Anytime he came with me, his first stop was at the pie window where he eagerly rifled through the hot pies in their paper wrappers, looking for what flavour would catch his eye that day.
If your husband, father or grandfather has a sweet tooth, then these are perfect for a Father’s Day BBQ. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to do a series of Father’s Day posts because of my hectic move. I know my husband, and he would prefer these apple strawberry hand pies to any steak or meat post.
My grandfather was crazy about desserts too. I know that if he was alive today, he would most certainly be my biggest supporter and taste tester. His craving for sweet was so bad that occasionally, when I was on holiday in India, I would catch him at the fridge spooning out his favourite mixed fruit jam and a big dollop of cream (off the top of the fresh milk, I might add) and eating it standing with the fridge door wide open.
Since rhubarb is still in season and I like to take advantage of it while it is, I decided to make these apple strawberry hand pies for my husband. They are much healthier than the ones at the farm because they are baked instead of fried and are made with an all butter pastry.
You can enjoy them at room temperature or warm; with or without ice cream. I like them warm with ice cream but they can easily be served at room temperature for a BBQ or picnic.
Serves: 10 or 11 pies
- 3 cups/355g rhubarb, sliced (about 4 large stalks)
- 3 cups/345g apples, small sliced chunks (about 3 medium apples)
- ¾ cup/172g sugar (use ½ cup if you like the tartness)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 quantity butter pastry or use good quality shop bought
- 1 egg, beaten for brushing
- 2 tablespoons coarse sugar for sprinkling
- In a medium size pan, add the rhubarb, apples, salt and sugar.
- Add a drizzle of water if necessary and heat on medium.
- The rhubarb will begin to release liquid and break down.
- The apples will soften and the sugar will dissolve.
- Heat the mixture till the moisture has evaporated and the it begins to thicken.
- This will take about 25-30 minutes.
- Once the mixture is thick and spoonable, add the lemon juice, lemon zest and cinnamon.
- Place on a plate and chill in the fridge.
- Meanwhile make the pastry if you haven't already.
- Before the pastry is chilled, divide the dough into 10 balls.
- Chill the balls for 15-20 minutes.
- Working with one dough ball at a time, roll it out to a 6 inches/15 cm diameter circle.
- Place 2 tablespoons of the chilled apple rhubarb mixture on one half of the circle and fold over the other half.
- Press out the air and seal the edges with a fork or crimp the edges like a pie.
- Place on a tray or plate in the fridge to chill while you make the others.
- Repeat with the other dough balls.
- While the completed hand pies are chilling, preheat the oven.
- At this point the pies can also be frozen.
- Preheat the oven to 400℉/200℃.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and keep aside.
- When the pies have chilled for about 20 minutes, place them on the foil lined baking sheet.
- Brush with the beaten egg, sprinkle with coarse sugar and cut 3 vent slits down each pie.
- Place the sheet on the bottom rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly.
- Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then remove to a rack.
- Best eaten warm but are great at room temperature and reheated in a toaster oven.
I hope you enjoyed one of my husband’s favourite treats, the apple rhubarb hand pie. Of course, he pretty much likes all desserts, cakes and puddings and my blog would be one endless tribute to all things sweet if I posted everything he likes!
My kitchen is not a 100 percent quite yet and so I am taking it slow with cooking and posting. Wishing all the wonderful fathers out there a very special week and Father’s Day. I am lucky to be married to a wonderful man who is an awesome father and I could not be the mother I am without him. I am also lucky to have a wonderful father, one that gave me everything while I was growing up, amazing grandfathers, may they both rest in peace, awesome brothers, uncles and cousins. Each one of them are exceptional fathers and I am proud to be related to them.
Have a wonderful week and if I don’t see you again, a very Happy Father’s Day!