A Summer Beach Picnic + Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust!

Some of early summer’s star produce comes together beautifully in this perfectly balanced Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust.

This Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust is the perfect dessert recipe for any beach picnic, BBQ or fancy dinner party!
Photo: Meg Sorel

As someone who left a sufficiently cushy job in the corporate world to become self-employed, one of the most frequent questions I’m asked is, “Do you ever miss being in an office with coworkers?” And my answer is always, “Honestly, no.” Sure, the self-employed world can be lonely at times, but I consider myself AMAZINGLY lucky to have found a solid group of like-minded ladies (and yes, even some men) who have also set out on their own and forged a path for themselves in the world of entrepreneurship, specifically in the food, beverage and entertaining bizzes.

Recently, a few of us got together to kick off summer with a beautifully styled beach picnic featuring some incredibly delicious food and wine. Since I’ve been itching to refine my pie-making skills, I offered to bring one showcasing some of my favorite fruits of the season thus, this Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust was born.

A fun and fresh Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with a flaky amaretto crust. The perfect summer dessert!
Photo: Meg Sorel

Here’s what everyone else brought/contributed (with live links to their posts/websites!)

Le Petit Chef

Denisse is a private chef and food photographer based here in Santa Barbara and brought the most refreshing Poached Lobster Salad with Peaches, Shaved Fennel and White Corn and delectable Crab Toasts with Heirloom Tomato & Charred Scallion Aioli.

The Oyster Tin

Jamie (also a private chef) just started this “micro-shuckery” here in SB and, let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve tasted these oysters. She brought both raw and BBQ oysters to our little picnic and the BBQ sauce on the cooked ones was just insane!

FOLD

Not only does Viktoriya make some of the most beautiful table linens, she’s also a pro at food and prop styling, She made our entire picnic set-up look like a dream…I only wish I could bring her (and her beautiful napkins and tablecloths) along with me for every picnic I go on!

Wander & Wine

If you plan to serve wine at any get-together you’re hosting, you’ll want to invite Hana-Lee. She chose the perfect wines to pair with each of our dishes. I couldn’t believe what a perfect match the Riverbench Demi-Sec Sparkling Wine was for my Strawberry Rhubarb Pie!

Meg Sorel Photography

Even though she stepped in for another photographer at the last minute, Meg was an absolute dream to work with and captured all of the beautiful images you see here and on the others’ posts.

Seafood, pie, wine and friends. What more can you ask for with a summer beach picnic?
Photo: Meg Sorel

Okay, now back to this pie. First, raise your hand if you (like me) are totally intimidated by pie-making because of the difficulty of making pie dough, rolling it out and then not only getting it to fit just right in your pie plate but also baking it to a beautiful golden brown in perfect synchronization to whatever filling you put inside.

Well, I’m here to tell you good news and bad news:

First, the bad news – it is hard. And it’s most likely not going to be perfect on your first attempt. You will most likely need to refine your practice in order to get it “just right.”

Next, the good news – it gets easier! Practice makes perfect. Once you find a recipe you like and practice it a time or two, you start to get a better feel for how it should look, feel, etc. I’m happy to say that, now that I have a basic pie crust recipe that I feel totally confident in, I’ll be making so many more pies and, after trying this recipe, I hope you will, too!

This Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust is the perfect finish to any 4th of July picnic or summer BBQ!
Photo: Meg Sorel
A picture perfect summer beach picnic with seafood, pie, wine and great friends!
Photo: Meg Sorel

There are just a couple of little secrets I want to let you in on that make this “not-your-average” Strawberry Rhubarb Pie recipe:

  1. It’s a fairly popular notion that adding chilled vodka to your pie dough (instead of water) will make it extra tender and flaky due to the alcohol dissolving during the cooking process. You know I’m all about using booze when needed, but for this recipe you’ll find me subbing in amaretto for the vodka, adding that slight nuttiness that goes perfectly with the rest of the components of the pie. For all other aspects of the dough, I turned to my favorite Model Bakery (affiliate link) recipe as a guide – I knew they wouldn’t let me down!
  2. Although the ingredients for the filling are all pretty typical, there is one ingredient that may look a little odd – balsamic vinegar. I added this to bring depth and a slight tang to the filling that pair perfectly with all the almond notes tied in throughout.

I have to say, for being such a novice in this particular aspect of baking, this Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust was a pretty huge hit.

A perfect piece of Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust is just what you need to cap off a summer meal.
Photo: Meg Sorel

It’s also perfectly portable which makes it a great dish to contribute to any 4th of July celebrations you may be attending this week.

Read on for the recipe!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 20 mins
Chilling time
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time
1 hr 50 mins
 

Some of early summer’s star produce comes together beautifully in this perfectly balanced dessert that's perfect for any warm weather get-together.

Course: Dessert
Keyword: pie, rhubarb, strawberry, summer
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup chilled butter-flavored shortening, cut into cubes (Can use regular shortening too)
  • 1/4 cup amaretto, chilled
For the filling:
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced (about 3 cups sliced)
  • 2 stalks rhubarb, sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
For the streusel:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon amaretto
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, crumbled
Instructions
  1. Begin making the dough at least an hour or two before you plan on baking your pie. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. 

  2. Next, using a pastry blender, cut in both the butter and shortening until dough is blended but crumbly with some pea-sized pieces. 

  3. Slowly mix in the amaretto using a fork until a loose dough begins to form.

  4. Using your hands, shape the dough into a thick disk. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or even overnight.

  5. To make the filling, combine strawberries, rhubarb, balsamic vinegar, sugar and flour in a large bowl. Mix until the fruit is evenly coated with the sugar, flour and vinegar. Refrigerate until you’re ready to bake your pie.

  6. Finally, assemble the streusel topping. Mix together all streusel ingredients in a medium bowl, using your fingers as needed to break up the butter pieces and make the mixture even and crumbly.

  7. Pull out your refrigerated pie dough about 15 minutes before you’re ready to start baking. This will allow it to come back down to room temperature a bit and make it easier to roll out. Once your dough is at a “roll-able” temperature, roll it into an approximately 13-inch circle and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. You may need to trim some edges and work the dough a bit once it’s in the pan to get the crust as uniform as possible. Crimp the ends as desired and then freeze for 15-30 minutes.

  8. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove your crust from the freezer and pour in the filling, then top with the streusel. 

  9. Bake pie in your 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also at this point I recommend putting on a pie shield or covering the edges of your crust with foil to prevent it from burning. Bake pie at this new reduced temperature for one hour to one hour and 15 minutes, or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly. Let cool before serving (preferably with vanilla ice cream!)

 

Rhubarb Old-Fashioned

I think it’s been a little too long since we’ve talked about bourbon.

Rhubarb Old-Fashioned | CaliGirlCooking.com

It’s also been a little too long since I’ve been able to get fresh rhubarb at the grocery store, so you can imagine how beyond stoked I was to find those bright red, crunchy stalks sticking out of a bin in the produce department of my local haunt. I knew I needed to make a rhubarb cocktail STAT and to me, the only answer was a Rhubarb Old-Fashioned!

Although you can technically eat the stalks of rhubarb raw (just don’t eat the poisonous leaves,) I find it much more enjoyable when it’s roasted or cooked in some way. If you subscribe to my email list (which you absolutely should!) you got another nice little rhubarb surprise recipe in your inbox earlier this week that features roasted rhubarb and strawberries, one of my favorite combinations.

But for today’s cocktail recipe, I decided to really let rhubarb have its time in the spotlight and whipped up a super-easy pure rhubarb simple syrup. Not only does it add the perfect sweetness to this Rhubarb Old-Fashioned, it gives it an amazing ruby red color! And aside from this special sauce, you’ll only need two other ingredients plus ice. How’s that for a TGIF?

Rhubarb Old-Fashioned | CaliGirlCooking.com

Speaking of Friday, what’s everyone up to this weekend? The hubs and I are taking it easy and starting to get ready for our big trip to Italy next week. That’s right, we’re jetting off to Tuscany with BOTH of our parents and my aunt for a fun, wine- and food-filled trip.

For the first leg of our trip we’ll be staying at a villa I stayed at with my aunt a few years ago, and then we’ll spend our last few days in a charming apartment right in the middle of Venice. It will be the hubby’s first trip to Europe and I am so excited to show him everything I love about Italy. We’ll be trying to squeeze a lot into our ten days there, but if anyone has any recommendations for Florence or Venice, please send them my way!

And don’t worry, I’ve got lots of fun recipes lined up to keep you entertained while we’re away!

So in the midst of all our packing, errand-running and organizing, you can bet we’ll be trying to use up that batch of rhubarb simple syrup with a few of these Rhubarb Old-Fashioned’s. They’re actually the perfect beverage for a relaxing weekend at home, especially this time of year. We’re getting a little more rain right now, but we certainly don’t mind as we still need as much as we can get and we’ve been having plenty of beautiful-weather days in between.

Rhubarb Old-Fashioned | CaliGirlCooking.com

Anywho, I mentioned that you’re only going to need two other ingredients besides the rhubarb simple syrup. These ingredients are the basics of any old-fashioned: bourbon and bitters! It’s seriously as simple as that.

And the rhubarb simple syrup comes together so quickly and painlessly, you can easily whip it up as soon as you get home from work today. You’ll use the requisite equal parts water and sugar that you use in any simple syrup, and throw them in a saucepan with your chopped rhubarb stalk. Let this all boil away until the rhubarb has broken down and turned the mixture bright red, and the syrup has reduced to about half of its starting amount.

Strain the mixture through a sieve to get out all of the chunks of rhubarb, and you’re left with a magnificent red syrup that you may want to use in more dishes than just a cocktail (ice cream topping, anyone?)

The hardest part will be allowing the syrup to cool a bit before adding it to the cocktail, but feel free to expedite this in any way possible so you can enjoy a Rhubarb Old-Fashioned ASAP.

Rhubarb Old-Fashioned | CaliGirlCooking.com

Whether you whip it up this weekend or wait until later in the spring, you’re going to want to make this perfectly seasonal drink sooner or later. And hey, in my opinion, there’s no time like the present!

Rhubarb Old-Fashioned
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

The classic bourbon cocktail gets a spring makeover with the addition of rhubarb simple syrup. Tastes good and a beautiful color to boot!

Course: Drinks
Servings: 1 cocktail
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the rhubarb simple syrup:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup chopped rhubarb stalk
For the cocktail:
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 1 ounce rhubarb simple syrup
  • 2-4 dashes angostura bitters (depending on your taste)
  • Additional rhubarb stalk for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. First, make the simple syrup. Combine all syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a heavy simmer. Turn down to a low simmer and let cook until rhubarb has broken down and mixture has reduced by half (about 10-15 minutes.)

  2. Strain the syrup through a sieve and into a reseable bottle or container to get rid of chunks, and allow to cool to at least room temperature.

  3. Once simple syrup is cool, make the cocktail. In a cocktail shaker filled halfway with ice, combine the bourbon, simple syrup and angostura bitters. Shake vigorously for about 15 second and then strain into a rocks glass filled to the brim with ice. 

  4. Garnish with a long piece of rhubarb stalk, if desired.

Rhubarb Old-Fashioned | CaliGirlCooking.com

Bourbon, ‘Barb and Blue

[This post is brought to you by yours truly and the wonderful folks at Drizly, who are making delicious cocktails possible for everyone without the hassle of going to a grocery store. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting CaliGirl Cooking and my sponsors!]

We have two reasons to be celebrating today! And we’re going to celebrate with a Bourbon, ‘Barb and Blue cocktail.

Bourbon, 'Barb and Blue | CaliGirl Cooking

REason #1

It’s Friday! Hallelujah. It’s been a long, weird week and I’m looking forward to some nice down time and relaxation this weekend. I’ve got some great beach volleyball games planned and other than that we’ll be laying reallll low (not like we have much of a choice with the hubby laid up with his healing Achilles 😉 That’s a-ok with me, though. I’m such a constant busy-body that sometimes it’s good for me to be forced to just sit down, relax, and not be doing anything. Can anyone else sympathize with me here?

Reason #2

I literally am so, so excited to share this Bourbon, ‘Barb and Blue cocktail with you. I know I make cocktails for you every week, but every once in a while there’s one that comes along that just knocks my socks off and I get incredibly anxious to get the recipe out to you so you can start making it for yourself ASAP. This is FOR SURE one of those cocktails. It killed me that the hubs couldn’t taste it because he would be so proud. (He’s taking a little break from drinking while he’s on his after-surgery pain meds…good plan!)

Bourbon, 'Barb and Blue | CaliGirl Cooking

When the folks at Drizly asked me to create a recipe for them, my mind immediately went towards creating a cocktail that would both celebrate the last few days of summer, but also welcome in fall with open arms. I thought a combination of blueberry (a very summer-y fruit) would pair deliciously with a heavier, more cool weather-inclined liquor. Enter bourbon! And, more specifically, Bulleit Bourbon (because that’s certainly our household favorite…What’s yours?)

But of course I couldn’t stop there. We needed to jazz this up even more for our friends at Drizly. Good thing they also have an incredible selection of bitters, mixers, etc. in addition to alcohol on their site, because I was easily able to pick out the Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters as the perfect addition to my blueberry and bourbon cocktail. The final touch was a vanilla-almond simple syrup, which I whipped up quickly on my own and have included the recipe for below.

Bourbon, 'Barb and Blue | CaliGirl Cooking

I bet at this point (unless you’ve clicked on the link I’ve included above) you’re wondering what exactly this Drizly thing is. Well, friends, let me tell you, because it’s amazing. Basically, if you live in one of 18 major cities in the United States and Canada (and you’re of legal drinking age, of course), you can go to Drizly’s website, place an order, and have wine, beer, liquor and other cocktail ingredients delivered right to your door in under an hour. How sweet is that? I am so bummed they’re not in Santa Barbara….yet. (Hint hint.)

In Their Own Words:

“Drizly is the technology company powering a superior shopping experience for beer, wine and liquor. Combining the best selection and price, content-rich and personalized shopping experiences, and the speed and convenience of on-demand delivery, Drizly delivers “The Joy of Drinking” to legal-age drinkers across the United States.”

So as you can imagine, this was right up my alley and I was beyond stoked to partner with them to whip up this delicious Bourbon, ‘Barb and Blue cocktail. Let’s get back to the whole process, shall we?

Bourbon, 'Barb and Blue | CaliGirl Cooking

The first step you’ll want to take is to whip up the vanilla-almond simple syrup. This can be done an hour or so in advance of you making the cocktail, or you can even make it a day or two in advance (it will come in useful for so many delicious cocktails!) The most important thing is to have time to let the syrup cool before you add it to your drink.

Once you have your vanilla-almond simple syrup in hand, the rest is easy. You’ll just need to muddle together the syrup, some fresh blueberries, fresh lemon juice and rhubarb bitters, add a healthy scoop of ice, and top it all with your Bulleit bourbon. Give it a little stir and enjoy immediately.

I’m just going to call it right now: This cocktail will probably turn into your go-to for the next couple of months. It strikes that super-fine balance between the fresh flavors of summer and the warm, comforting flavors of fall. The juiciness of the blueberries and the acidity of the fresh lemon juice balance the earthy rhubarb bitters and sweet vanilla-almond simple syrup PERFECTLY. It’s fairly strong for a cocktail, but you’d never notice it if you didn’t look at the recipe. The natural sweetness from the blueberries is the perfect veil for the strong bourbon flavor, and (when enjoyed moderately) this cocktail won’t leave you with a raging headache the next day (no thank you, artificial sweeteners!)

Bourbon, 'Barb and Blue | CaliGirl Cooking

Trust me, the end of summer never tasted so good!

Bourbon, ‘Barb and Blue

10 minutes

Yield: Makes one cocktail

This end-of-summer cocktail combines fresh blueberries, rhubarb bitters, vanilla-almond simple syrup and bourbon to create a perfectly balanced drink.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 ounce vanilla-almond simple syrup (recipe below)
  • ½ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ ounce rhubarb bitters
  • Ice
  • 2 ounces Bulleit bourbon

Instructions

  1. Combine blueberries, simple syrup, lemon juice and bitters in the bottom of a rocks glass. Muddle together until all of the blueberries are broken up and the mixture takes on a bright purple-pink hue.
  2. Fill the glass all the way to the top with ice.
  3. Top with bourbon and stir gently to combine.
  4. Enjoy immediately!

Notes

To make the Vanilla-Almond Simple Syrup: Combine 1 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar, the seeds from ½ a vanilla bean and about 2 drops of almond flavoring in a small saucepan. Bring to a low boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool completely before using.

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https://www.caligirlcooking.com/bourbon-barb-and-blue/

 

Bourbon, 'Barb and Blue | CaliGirlCooking.com

You had me at bourbon <3

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