Kyle found a case of coffee mugs we don’t use in the Birch and Barley basement so he decided to customize them… A new one each Sunday in honor of brunch.
Maybe he’s on to a great side business idea! Potential investors… You’re welcome!
Growing up in Hawaii I didn’t eat a lot of berries. Don’t get me wrong, as a child most days started with a just-picked papaya filled with yogurt or a guava sliced and topped with soyu, so I’m not complaining. I’m just admitting that I didn’t fully understand how amazing spring and summer berries can be until I moved to NY. And even then I wasn’t drawn to strawberries until I worked at Union Square Cafe. I’d go to the Union Square Farmers Market with the chef and only after trying the tristar strawberries from Franca at Berried Treasure Farms did I really get just how special they can be.
Then came rhubarb. That was completely foreign to me. I remember being sent down to the walk in to get rhubarb, also at Union Square Cafe, and having no idea what I was looking for. When I asked the chef what it was I got a big eye roll and “its the pink celery” as a response. I immediately loved how tart and crisp it was. And then learned how well the two go hand in hand.
I don’t normally do desserts at the restaurants combining rhubarb and strawberries because in spring there isn’t a ton of produce available so I like to make one flavor the focus of each dessert. But classic Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie is one of my favorites and luckily I have Buzz so I get to make it there. The last few weeks of rhubarb in DC is right in line with the middle to end of strawberry season so if you hit the market just right you can get everything you need.
The recipe below is for 2 pies because lets be honest… If you are going through the process of making a pie at home you might as well make two. I’m sure you’ll have no problem finding a home for at least one of them.
Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Recipe
2 Pre-baked Pie Crusts plus additional raw dough for lattice top (store bought or try my recipe here) OR 1 qt raw brown sugar – oatmeal streusel topping
2.25 Pounds Local Strawberries, stems removed and cut into halves or quarters
1.5 Pounds Rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ dice
1/2 Vanilla Bean
1 tsp Orange Zest
2 tsp Lemon Zest
1 cup Sugar, divided
1/3 cup cornstarch
1) Take 1/2 the strawberries, 3/4 of the rhubarb and 1/2 cup sugar and mix to combine. Allow to sit 15 minutes. In a high sided saute pan combine fruit with the scraped seeds of the vanilla bean (add the pod to sugar to infuse vanilla sugar) and the zests and cook over a medium heat until the fruit begins to bubble. Stir every so often to prevent scorching.
2) Place the remaining sugar and cornstarch in a bowl and whisk smooth. Make a slurry by whisking in some of the soft fruit to the sugar/cornstarch mix until smooth. Add to the hot fruit mix and stir constantly until it returns to a simmer for 5 minutes.
3) Add the remaining rhubarb then after 3-4 minutes the strawberries. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the rhubarb and strawberries soften but don’t allow them to turn to mush. These will give the pie some texture.
4) Pour the finished fruit mix onto a cookie tray or into a bowl and allow to cool to room temp. Or you can refrigerate, covered, up to 5 days before proceeding (making this a great make-ahead option).
5) Place about 3.5 cups of fruit compote into the pre-baked pie shell. Not you can choose to top with a lattice crust, made by weaving raw strands of dough between each other (I attach the piece to the edge of the crust using a little egg wash) or you can top the pie in a layer of your favorite crumble topping. I love cornmeal or brown sugar-oatmeal.
6) Return to the oven at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and cooked through. It will really depend on the oven but remember, your bottom crust and filling are fully cooked so just keep an eye on the top crust/crumble.
7) Cool to room temp and enjoy! (Or dig right in, just expect it to be a bit messy!)
My sous chef Hannah wanted to do a dessert with Chocolate and Peanut Butter so I threw in raspberries, and some other summer fruit to lighten it up. We put some fun surprises on the plate too!
The main component is a peanut butter mousse that is filled with a liquid raspberry gel. We cook down raspberries with sugar and some citrus and set with a tiny bit of gelatin until its thick but still fluid. We freeze the gel and as we will the mold with mouse we place the gel disk in the center, sealing it all around with mousse. When the guest breaks into it it bleeds raspberry.
Strawberry, Blackberry, Blueberry and Raspberry make up the sorbet. Its nice and bright from the tart raspberries and strawberries but the dark flavor of blue and blackberries really rounds it out. This is one of my favorite summer sorbet flavors.
This is probably my favorite part of the dessert: chocolate dipped, crunchy peanut butter buckeye It’s a mixture of peanut butter, chocolate, rice krispies and honey roasted peanuts rolled into a ball and dipped in chocolate. We top each one with more peanuts and maldon salt. They are addicting
The sorbet sits on a bed of crumbled chocolate meringue. There is a piece of peanut “brittle” and some lightly marinated raspberries. Fudge sauce is painted onto the plate.
I rarely order chocolate desserts but I’m a sucker for chocolate and peanut butter so this is what I would order if I were a guest at Birch and Barley!
Best. Ribs. Ever…. Period.
If you are ever in Atlanta seek this place out. It’s a tiny shanty with a line out the door. Inside you’ll find the best ribs I’ve ever had. The collard greens were also the perfect balance of tang and spice. And the customer service made you feel like you were sitting in someones back yard at a picnic. It’s officially on my “must visit list” any time I go to Atlanta… Next time I’m bringing back a bottle of that magical BBQ sauce!
I’ve been wanting to do a dessert with sesame and strawberries for a couple of years but for some reason or another every year strawberry season passes without it happening. This year we started testing well before local strawberries were available so we were ready to go at Birch and Barley!
Cheesecake laced with fresh grated ginger and crusted in homemade graham cracker crust is the main component on the dessert. I was worried people might be hesitant to get something with sesame and miso so I wanted to throw a familiar word in there to make it more “orderable”… Cheesecake usually does the trick
Ginger-Caradamom pound cake pieces are placed around the plate for a dense, bready quality to cut through the richness of the cheesecake
Strawberries are represented in several ways on this plate. There are lightly marinated fresh berries, strawberry sorbet, pureed and dehydrated “fruit roll up”, a reduction of strawberry juice and fresh extracted ginger juice and strawberry dust. Lots of textures
Sesame is a strong flavor but I wanted to use both black and white. The black were toasted and pureed into an ice cream base infused lightly with orange zest. The white seeds were baked into a tuile with a brittle like quality but so thin you can see through it.
Salty-Sweet Miso caramel garnishes the plate as does torn pieces of shiso leaf.
We’ve got a new dessert at Birch and Barley starting tonight! So many of my favorite things on one plate….
Passion Fruit Creme Brulee is made from cream egg yolks, sugar and white chocolate to help stabalize it so it can be served free form. A strong reduction of passion fruit juice is added to give it a kick. The brulee sits on top of a light but flavorful coconut meringue cake
Rhubarb Sorbet is made by pressure juicing rhubarb to yield a tart pink juice. It’s then mixed with orange simple syrup to balance with sweetness
Rhubarb cubes are poached in sugar, water, white wine, orange and lemon zest, star anise and vanilla bean. I like to cook them until they start to get tender but stop far before the turn to mush
Basil is incorporated through micro basil, which really packs a punch, and basil chantilly. We blanch basil in boiling water then shock it in ice water to stop the cooking. It’s then blended with simple syrup to make a strong basil syrup and folded into whipped cream
Last but not least is the coconut tapioca. We soak tapioca pearls in ice water for 2 days then simmer in coconut milk, milk, sugar, vanilla bean and kaffir lime leaf… One of my faovrites!
Bluejacket is well under way. Greg and Megan are people that Kyle and I love working with. They are as passionate about beer as we are about food. They take the long way home, no shortcuts.
We knew this was going to be epic. That was always the plan. But as things start to really fall into place I am really realizing how huge this is going to be.