Ready for rhubarb!

Hey, everyone! It’s rhubarb season! I always get excited around this time of year because I can buy or harvest fresh rhubarb for jams, preserves, pies, and more! If you’ve never had it before, it has a very distinct flavor. Raw, the smell can be likened to that of a tart, unripe pear. However, its flavor is one of a kind and is sour, savory, and slightly sweet! It is almost always cooked and can also be compressed in a vacuum sealer for a nice dessert addition. One of my favorite things to do with rhubarb is make strawberry rhubarb pie. The seasons for both of these plants overlap, which results in a naturally sweet and incredibly flavorful pie. One of the best things about rhubarb is that it does not need a lot of doctoring to taste good. With just enough seasoning, rhubarb becomes an incredibly complex element in any dish.

My memories of rhubarb start with stories from my father’s childhood. My father grew up in the north of England, and there, it was customary to see rhubarb in family gardens, growing in a thick bunch of stalks. One of the most memorable rhubarb dishes he remembers having as a child was rhubarb pie. Pastry, sugar, butter, and rhubarb are essentially what comprised this dish, and apparently the flavor was something to behold. When my dad moved to Philadelphia for work, he sought it out but realized there was little to no interest in rhubarb here. It was essentially inaccessible, and for a long time, he just went without it. As classic and once thought of as “out-of-fashion” fruits and vegetables began to come back into popularity, items such as rhubarb and previously ignored vegetables became more accessible and even more desired in mainstream eateries and grocery stores. Growing up, my family had access to rhubarb, but no one had the time or patience to make rhubarb pie. We always ate the store-bought strawberry rhubarb pies, but to me, they were incredible nonetheless. The sweet, savory, and tangy notes of the rhubarb paired so nicely with the sweet strawberry and crumbly crust. It was a rarity for that pie to last even a couple of days in the Walsh household.

After spending some time in culinary school, I’ve learned to have the patience and carve out the time to make a homemade pie. Nothing fills your house quite like the smell of homemade pastry and baked fruit. This is also a great way to use up harvested fruit that isn’t pretty enough for the table or is maybe a little underripe. Below is my very simple recipe for strawberry rhubarb pie, and it is open for adaptation.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz. cold, unsalted butter
  • 7-10 tablespoons ice water
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 ½ cups fresh strawberries, halved
  • 2 ½ cups fresh rhubarb, large chop
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 ½ tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 2 tablespoons butter for dotting pie

Procedure:

  • Cut butter into cubes, and refrigerate until hard and cold.
  • Place a few ice cubes in 2 cups of water.
  • Once cold, pinch butter into flour and salt in a mixing bowl.
  • Use the tips of your fingers to avoid adding excess heat.
  • Once butter is pea-sized and flour is somewhat mealy, stop pinching.
  • One tablespoon at a time, add the ice water. *Humidity and temperature are important factors to consider before adding all of the water at once. I tend to add 7 tablespoons of water when it’s warm and 9-10 when it’s cold out.
  • Do not overmix dough. Once combined, wrap in plastic and set in the fridge 30 minutes to an hour. *Pie dough can be held in the fridge longer and also frozen.
  • Set oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Once chilled, flour a surface for rolling, and cut the pie dough into 2/3 and 1/3 pieces with a bench knife.
  • Roll the dough to 1/8 of an inch thick.
  • Lightly butter a 9-inch pie dish, and press the larger rolled out piece of dough to the sides and bottom.
  • Once tightly fit to the dish, refrigerate for another 20-30 minutes.
  • Toss strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, tapioca starch, and lemon juice together and place into pie shell.
  • Roll the rest of the pie dough on top of the pie, cut excess, and secure top to base with water.
  • Tuck the crust underneath itself once to form a strong seal and flaky edge.
  • Crimp as you see fit. I usually use the tips of my fingers and pinch every ¼ inch with my thumb between my other thumb and index finger.
  • If you have a pie collar, use it. If not, make a collar for your pie out of foil.
  • Slice a small “x” into the center of the pie’s lid, so that steam can escape.
  • Egg washing the pie is optional; I usually don’t.
  • Bake pie for 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and flaky.
  • For the final 10 minutes, remove the pie collar or foil.
  • Allow pie to cool on a rack for at least 1 hour. The longer it cools, the better!
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Once you have made this recipe a couple of times, it becomes second nature. When working with rhubarb, it is customary to peel off the outside layer, which comes off easily. Large pieces also help to maintain a filling with body, so that each piece of fruit is identifiable. Last, thoroughly chilling the ingredients for your dough, working efficiently, and getting the ingredients ready before you start will lead to a beautiful and flaky pie crust. One of the best things about this pie is that there are only a few ingredients and the flavors of the fruit are the highlight of the dish. For another interesting way to use rhubarb, it can be peeled, compressed in a vacuum sealer, and circulated in a hot water bath with various types of vinegars, sugars, herbs, and spices! Below is a quick compressed rhubarb recipe that livens up any plate!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rhubarb, 2-inch pieces, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon picked thyme
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Procedure:

  • Place ingredients in a vacuum seal bag.
  • Seal and remove any air within.
  • Circulate in a water bath at 140 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes.
  • Remove contents from bag and enjoy.

I hope that these recipes come in handy, and they can also be changed in a number of ways. I always have a lot of fun making pie, and it’s always a crowd pleaser. I urge anyone reading this to experiment and play around with rhubarb while it’s in season. It has such a wonderful flavor profile and really rounds out overly sweet and extremely rich foods. Try adding it to the next batch of jam you make, or maybe add it to a really meaty stew for a refreshing tang. The possibilities with rhubarb are limitless, and I hope this has shed some light on an amazing plant!

-Steven Walsh, Walnut Hill College Student Leader

Read Steven’s bio


Celebrate Cinco de “May-o” with these delicious mayonnaise recipes!

By Steven Walsh

Hey, everyone! My name is Steven Walsh, and you’re currently reading the new WHC Food Blog. In this, I hope to show some of the recipes and techniques that I use at home and have used in professional settings. I, as well as lots of others here, love to cook and am passionate about food. Since starting at Walnut Hill College, I’ve wanted to create a forum and blog that allows people to communicate and share the things they love. As I learn more on my culinary journey, I aim to share what I like best with everyone reading. There are few things that I am not fond of, but there is nothing that I won’t try. I’m really excited to get this started, and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and comments once this takes off. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy!

This week, I wanted to share two recipes that I use a lot at home. Despite my lack of pastry experience, this is partially a post about baking! To start though, I’ll be sharing a mayonnaise recipe that completely changed my mind about mayo.

Growing up, there were no ifs, ands, or buts, I hated mayonnaise. I didn’t like the concept, and I sure didn’t like the taste. Something seemed to be bitter or rancid every time I tried it, so I stopped trying it. As all of us do, I expanded my palate as I grew up and began to tolerate mayonnaise. It still wasn’t my preference, but it seemed like an alright substitute for butter on a sandwich. This opinion of mine would be completely flipped as I started to learn more about mayonnaise. As I began my education at WHC, I was given the task many times to make mayonnaise. Each time I made it, I liked it, but there was always that background rancid flavor. I had finally had enough and started to do some research on different oils and their properties. After playing around with different ideas, to make a long story short, I began to realize that the heat tolerance and neutral flavor of the oil was what had the biggest impact on the mayonnaise’s outcome. I wanted to test this, so I used my all-time favorite high-heat cooking oil, grapeseed oil.

“Whoa.” This was all I could think after what had just happened. It was a Saturday that I had off from work, and I was playing around in the kitchen as I often do. With the thoughts of grapeseed oil still fresh in my mind, I substituted the usual canola oil with it and made my mayonnaise. As a disclosure, I have tools at home that not everyone may have access to in a home kitchen. However, these recipes are adaptable, and I will always do my best to provide alternative methods. 😊

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Procedure:

  • Add ¼ cup of grapeseed oil, egg, mustard powder, and salt into food processor.
  • Blend until smooth and pale (20-30 seconds).
  • Add remaining oil in a continuous, thin stream while still blending.
  • Once finished with the oil, add the lemon juice and blend only to combine.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning as preferred.
Make your own delicious homemade mayonnaise today!

I was instantly in love with this recipe. Food processor mayonnaise is a great way to save time and energy when making mayo. I actually like to use my whisk attachment on my stick blender to make this. I add the ingredients to a blender cup and use the electric whisk instead of a food processor. This recipe is really versatile, and I love using it for different things. I use it for cakes, dipping sauces, salad dressings, and more! One of my favorite mayonnaise recipes is my double chocolate mayo cake. I use small loaf tins for baking the cake and slice the cakes for dessert with some ice cream and fresh fruit!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup grapeseed oil mayonnaise
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels (I use Ghirardelli)

Procedure:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Whisk together mayonnaise, vanilla, milk, and water.
  • Combine salt and sugar in a mixing bowl.
  • Sift flour, cocoa, and baking powder into dry ingredients.
  • Evenly mix with a dry, wooden spoon.
  • In three stages, incorporate your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients.
  • Fold in chocolate chips.
  • Oil 4 mini loaf tins with vegetable oil.
  • Cut strips of parchment paper long enough so that they hang out of the tins.
  • Evenly pour the batter into the tins and smooth for even baking.
  • Bake for 35 minutes or until a tester toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool and serve.
Double Chocolate Mayo Cake

There are so many variations that can be made to both of these recipes, and I hope you get a chance to try them out. I would love to hear feedback, and pictures of cake and mayo are obviously welcome!

-Steven Walsh, Walnut Hill College Student Leader

Read Steven’s bio


Walnut Hill College Pride

Education is our pride and joy. For over 40 years, Walnut Hill College has been dedicated to teaching the future leaders in fine dining and hospitality. Whether they’re working in the front or the back of the house during service in our four restaurants or learning the ins and outs of the business in our management classes, our students receive real-world training that prepares them for success in their chosen career field.
Walnut Hill College is a boutique college with a specific focus on culinary, pastry, and hospitality training. The small size of the college allows our students to truly hone their craft with specialized instruction and more personal guidance from our instructors than larger institutions can provide. Because of this, WHC is like a family, and we relish the relationships that we develop with our students while they’re with us and that we maintain for years after they graduate.
 
We also take pride in providing product excellence. Everything from the desserts in our pastry shop to the dinners in our restaurants reflects our students’ creativity, diligence, and attention to detail. With each new term of classes, our students strive to improve upon their previous work so that we can offer the public even more innovative and delicious dishes. As our students graduate and move on to pursue their careers, we’re excited to see their talents shine in the industry–and equally as excited to train the next group of culinary, pastry, and hospitality hopefuls at the start of their journey.