Slowcoast Strawberry Pie

Swanton's Berry Farm

Swanton’s Berry Farm

There is a beautiful stretch of Highway One between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz that has been named, “Slowcoast”. After an early morning foggy trip to San Francisco I decided to take the long way home. I had never traveled along that stretch of road. In addition to the gorgeous views at every turn, there was an artisanal slow food presence that caught me by surprise. After seeing a vintage bright yellow truck with a large strawberry perched in it I pulled into Swanton’s Berry Farm. An Airstream served as a gift shop and a long blue rustic building as the pie shop. What a treat for a wandering western hippie!

The Airstream

The Airstream

I am not sure that it gets any more west coast natural than this. The strawberries in the pie shop were absolutely beautiful and delicious – I bought a three pack. Behind the counter with an honor system till, stood fresh faced pie bakers and shortcake assemblers carefully creating some absolutely wonderful looking berry desserts. I was inspired to take those berries home and make a pie.

Beautiful Local Strawberries

Beautiful Local Strawberries

Because strawberries have so much liquid in them I decided against a crust on the bottom of the pie plate. It would never bake properly and would be mushy. I simply sliced the berries in quarters and grated some orange rind to add the bright taste and hue of citrus.

Strawberries Sliced with Grated Orange Rind

Strawberries Sliced with Grated Orange Rind

I then tossed the strawberries with about 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of “minute” tapioca. The minute tapioca helps to absorb the juice from the berries and gives the filling a thicker consistency.

Tossed with Sugar and "Minute" Tapioca

Tossed with Sugar and “Minute” Tapioca

Roll out one round of pie crust. You can make your own using your favorite recipe – or use the frozen stuff.

Pie Crust - Top Only

Pie Crust – Top Only

Crimp the edges by using your thumb and index finger on your left hand and your index finger on your right hand … like this <-

Crimped and Ready

Crimped and Ready

Preheat the oven to 375 F and bake until the crust is verging on golden. Remove the pie from the oven. Take a pastry brush and a ramekin of milk – brush the surface of the pie with the milk and dust generously with granulated sugar. Return the pie to the oven and bake until the filling bubbles and the crust is golden.

Slowcoast Strawberry Pie

Slowcoast Strawberry Pie

Enjoy with fresh whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or a dollop of vanilla yogurt.

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Sunflower Seed Baklava with Honey Yogurt and Apricot Preserves

Anyone that has shared a meal with me knows that I am deathly allergic to tree nuts. You will not find any dishes on Western Hippie Cooks that contain tree nuts. You will, however, find plenty of recipes that contain seeds. They are my “go-to” nut substitute. I love sesame and sunflower seeds. They allow me to experience that “nutty” flavor – without the trip to the hospital.

I recently served this beautiful dessert at a dinner party. No one missed the nuts.

This recipe is simple to prepare, but takes time…so start with the yogurt. I take a 24 ounce container of full fat Greek honey yogurt and empty it into a mesh strainer that has been lined with cheesecloth and placed over a bowl. You can find cheesecloth in the cookware section of most grocery stores.

Strain Greek Honey Yogurt

Strain Greek Honey Yogurt

Let this sit in the refrigerator overnight – you will be amazed at what happens. The result is thick and “ice cream scoop-able”. This will be served on the side once the dessert is plated.

Now to assemble the baklava. Preheat the oven to 350 F. I start with store bought phyllo dough. This is in the freezer section of your grocery store. Thaw it out according to the instructions on the box. Phyllo dough dries out quickly, so once it is out of the plastic, cover with a clean, damp dishtowel. Choose a baking pan or cookie tray with sides – I am using a 9×13 baking pan. Toss two cups of shelled, salted and roasted sunflower seeds with 3 tablespoons of sugar. You can leave the seeds whole or pulse them in a food processor to get the chopped nut effect. Melt two sticks of butter to use in layering the pastry and sunflower seeds. Take a pastry brush and coat the bottom of the pan so the first layer won’t stick. Lay down a sheet of phyllo and brush with butter – layer and brush a total of 10 sheets of phyllo.

Brush Phyllo with Butter

Brush Phyllo with Butter

Now pour half of the sugar dusted sunflower seeds over the buttered 10 layers – spread out evenly.

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Cover with another 5 layers of individually buttered sheets of phyllo. Pour and spread out the remaining sunflowers seeds. Then top with another 10 buttered sheets of phyllo. Tuck the edges in as you layer so no dry edges remain. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cut diagonally into diamond shaped pieces. Return the baklava to the oven and bake for another 30 minutes or until golden – don’t let it get too dark.

While the baklava bakes empty an 18 ounce jar of apricot preserves into a saucepan. Add one cup of water and bring it too a rapid boil. Let this reduce a bit and thicken – maybe 5 minutes. Most baklava recipes call for a combination of honey, sugar and water. I find it to be far too cloying and super sweet. So I came up with the idea of using apricot preserves adding the sweetness, but a little tart apricot flavor as well.

Remove the pan from the oven and pour the hot apricot sauce evenly over the baklava. Using a butter knife, outline the cuts again so the sauce gets fully incorporated. Cover with plastic and let sit overnight.

Apricot Sunflower Seed Baklava

Apricot Sunflower Seed Baklava

When it’s time to serve – place a few pieces on a plate and scoop the honey yogurt using two teaspoons dipped in hot water.

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

©All content property of Renee Fields and Farmer’s Market Table