A while back I posted on Avocado Pie, a recipe given to me by a friend during my college years in the 70’s. He was one of three male classical musicians who shared a beautiful home in Santa Barbara, California.
I moved away from, S.B. in 1978, but retrospectively, I know one of them had the AIDS virus. It saddens me to think back on all of the beautiful and gifted gay men I’d known who most likely died from the horrid disease.
In this particular house there was also a young woman renter who was working on her PhD in Russian Literature. And oh, she was brilliant. I could talk to her for hours, soaking up her insane intelligence, all while listening to Beethoven’s Pathétique in the background…
It’s so sad that in my life I’ve moved so often, and maybe out of self-preservation, I’ve not been good at staying in touch. I so wish I could know where she is and what she became, because I know she’s somebody really special. But the reason I bring her up from this time in my life, is that we actually shared a joy of cooking. Or, maybe I should say I had a joy of eating, because I hadn’t started cooking seriously yet.
And it is from this girlfriend that I got her hand-written recipe for strawberry pie. (Isn’t it funny that some brilliant people have the worst handwriting?!)
The crust is made with saltines. I remember being a bit skeptical, since I was already a food snob at 20; my only familiarization with saltines was that they were for sick people. But once I tasted the pie, I knew it was a keeper.
Strawberry Pie with Walnut-Saltine Crust
17 saltines, crushed
1 cup white sugar
Approximately 1 cup walnut halves, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla or vanilla powder
3 egg whites
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a deep-dish pie pan. And I mean grease the hell out of it.
Place the crushed saltines in a medium bowl. Add the white sugar, chopped walnuts and vanilla. Set aside.
In a large bowl, place the egg whites, and using an electric mixer, whip the whites until peaks form. Add the saltines, sugar, walnuts, and vanilla, and using a spatula, fold everything together.
Place the mixture in the pie pan, and spread around to shape into a crust.
Bake for 25-30 minutes; crust should be firm.
Let the crust fully cool before continuing with the pie filling.
3 cups sliced strawberries
1 tablespoon sugar
8 ounces whipping cream
Place the berries in a medium-sized bowl and toss with the sugar. Let them sit for 30 minutes.
Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Place the cream in the crust, overlapping the sides. I used a whipper, hoping the cream would look better. It didn’t.
“Plop” the strawberries on top and serve immediately.
What I forgot is how challenging it is to get a slice of pie intact onto a plate. What a mess.
Next time I might form the crust into a 10” disc, baked on greased parchment. Or maybe even cut out squares to serve as a “cookie” served with the strawberries and cream. Ideas?
The slightly sweetened strawberries plus the cream, plus the nutty meringue crust pieces – fabulous.
Maybe I should put this recipe in the “Why I Don’t Bake” category!