Thursday, May 23, 2013

Balsamic Strawberry Glace Pie

 When I was a child, the changing of the seasons was marked in part by the behavior of the adults in my community.  The early spring was marked by increasing anxiety and activity as one of the earlier crops that would come to market was the strawberry.  The name of the fruit comes in part from how it is grown.  Small tender plants that lie close to the ground, straw mounded over before the winter sets in to prevent them from being destroyed in the deep freeze of winter.  As winter turned to spring, many a child in the strawberry growers family remembers the days spent playing quietly while dad sleeps as his nights were devoted to watching the thermometer.  The farmer ready to go out into the frosty night to turn on the irrigation systems.  The water providing a coating of ice over the plants and flowers - a counter intuitive ploy that helps to insulate the plant from the freezing temperatures.

As the spring progresses and Memorial Day approaches, the promise of warm summer days lies in the ripening of the strawberry on the vine.  We all knew that school would be drawing to a close and our days would once again be spent in the outdoors helping to bring in the summer harvests.  Most of our June meals would be complemented with the fruits of our labor.  Strawberry Pie, Strawberry Shortcake, Strawberry Jam, Strawberries in our cereal and fresh strawberries eaten straight out of the field.  There were many a year that I ate so many strawberries that I would break out in a rash that meant I needed to slow down.

I can still remember the first time I made a Strawberry Pie, following in my elder sisters footsteps as she prepared pies for my Great Uncle who was one of the largest strawberry growers in the area, and a true lover of Strawberry Pie.

This year as spring turns into summer, the changing season marked by the advertising of locally grown strawberries and U-Picks, my memories turn to the days spent picking berries in the heat of the sun, relaxing in the shade of the berry shanty and evenings spent eating Strawberry Pie.

It has been years since I have made a Strawberry Pie.  This spring,
I decided to give the old standard Strawberry Glace Pie from my trusty Betty Crocker Cookbook a more modern twist.  The addition of Balsamic Vinegar to the glaze gives it a deeper flavor and a chocolaty color.  You can add red food coloring, if desired, to give it a stronger berry look.  I prefer to remain a purist and let the natural coloring show through.

Balsamic Strawberry Glace Pie

Adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook, 7th Edition

9 inch baked pie shell
2 pounds strawberries, divided
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
Few drops red food color, if desired

Prepare and bake the pie shell.  Mash enough strawberries to measure 1 cup
Mix sugar and cornstarch in 2 quart saucepan.  Gradually stir in water, food color, and mashed strawberries.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils.  Boil and stir 1 minute; cool.

Fill pie shell with remaining strawberries.  Pour cooked strawberry mixture over top.  Refrigerate about 3 hours, or until set.