We’ve settled quite nicely into our new apartment in San Jose, with a kitchen that has so much light I was beside myself the first day we walked in. Marco also said my eyes lit up when I saw that we had a linen closet. A LINEN CLOSET. This place beats any of our Boston apartments by a landslide.
We’ve also had the opportunity to meet our neighbors, above us and next door. One gave us some of her patio tomatoes, and the other some grapes. Now I definitely have an excuse to bake. 🙂
We’ve been grocery shopping a few times, but I’m not quite fully stocked. I wanted to make something fruity, and my only options were strawberries or plums (Marco has the car, he started work this week, so I’m stranded at home with the cats). I went with strawberries. Something simple. I decided to go with a nut crust, mostly because I don’t have everything I need for an actual pie crust. I had a bag of pecans, and I found quite a few recipes for pecan crusts. I though it might need just a little something else, so I added coriander, a good flavor combo with strawberry, but I know not everyone has coriander laying around. You can just leave out the spice or add something else that you would like paired with strawberry (or with any other filling, this crust is crazy easy).
Don’t kill me, but I also used frozen strawberries. I KNOW. But it’s what I had to work with. And it came out just fine. I let them thaw in a colander, to drain the liquid, and the ones I reserved whole held up just fine. So there, you can use frozen or fresh.
2 cups of pecans, finely chopped (or walnuts)
1/4 cup of brown sugar, tightly packed (or other sweetener)
1/4 teaspoon of coriander (optional, see above)
3-4 tablespoons of butter, melted (or dairy-free substitute)
Pinch of salt
1 pint of strawberries (roughly)
1/4 cup of agave (or other sweetener)
1/3 cup of water
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
Pulse the pecans in a blender or food processor until crumbly, then add the sugar, coriander, salt and melted butter. I would start with 3 tablespoons, and then if you feel you need a little more to hold the crust together then go for it.
I pressed my crust into a small tart pan (makes 6 tartlets), because I was sharing with neighbors, but you can make this into a 9″ pie just the same. I had no issue with my crust sticking, but definitely go with glass or a plate that you know to be still non-stick.
Place your pie(s) in the fridge to firm up for 30-45 minutes.
When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350. Place the pie(s) on a baking sheet, and bake for 12-15 minutes. I took mine out at 12, the edges were just starting to brown (you don’t want this crust to come even close to burning). Remove and let cool to room temperature.
While the crust is baking, chop up about half of your strawberries and add those to a skillet set over medium heat with the agave (or other sweetener). Stir and gently mash the strawberries, bringing to a boil.
Combine the water and cornstarch in a separate bowl or cup, and then pour into the strawberry mixture. Bring the temperature down to low and stir constantly. It will only take a couple of minutes to thicken, but you want to cook off the cornstarch taste, so continue stirring for another minute or two before removing from the heat.
Your crust should be ready now. Place a few whole strawberries in your crust(s) however you wish, and then spoon in the filling.
Place back in the fridge for an hour or two to set, and satiate your hunger by eating the leftover filling. It’s like healthy jam. One of your fruit servings for the day. Totally acceptable.
I don’t think the pictures do these little guys justice. They were REALLY good. Well, my neighbors haven’t provided their feedback yet, but Marco gobbled his up and couldn’t believe the crust was gluten free. And I do have to say, especially for something so simple, ’twas delicious.
Now, I’m going to go enjoy another day of sunshine. 🙂