The Congressional Strawberry Dessert

TIMES STAFF WRITER

DEAR SOS: While on vacation in Cape Cod recently, I told someone about the wonders of fresh strawberry pie and promised to get her a recipe. Marie Callender's makes wonderful strawberry pie, but they don't give out the recipe. Can you offer an alternative?

CONNIE F. MARTIN

Via e-Mail

DEAR CONNIE: You've gotten yourself into a bit of a fix, haven't you? Traveling the country and making promises brought to mind the Congressional Club Cookbook. This recipe is from Sara Mathews, wife of former Rep. D.R. "Billy" Mathews from Florida (the other strawberry state). The pie crust is from the July 15, 1998 Food section.

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Mrs. Cook's Strawberry Pie

Active Work Time: 45 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 1 hour 10 minutes plus 6 hours 45 minutes chilling

PIE SHELL

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6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 cup shortening, chilled

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

About 3 tablespoons ice water

Combine the butter, shortening, flour and salt in a food processor and pulse until the mixture forms pea-sized crumbs. Be careful not to overmix.

Add 1 tablespoon of ice water with the processor running. Continue adding water, a few drops at a time, with the processor on until the dough begins to form a mass. You may not use all the water. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill it about 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the dough and decoratively flute the edges. Chill it about 15 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line the bottom of the pie shell with foil, then fill the pie with weights, dried beans or rice. Bake the crust until it is light golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool it on a rack. Remove the weights and foil.

STRAWBERRY FILLING

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 quart strawberries, stems removed, divided

3 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 (9-inch) baked pie shell, cooled

1 cup whipping cream

Mix together the sugar and cornstarch; set aside.

Mash half of the berries and bring them to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the sugar mixture. Cook, stirring often, until the sauce is thick and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Rub the sauce through a sieve and reserve.

Spread the cream cheese over the bottom and half way up the sides of the pie shell. Place the remaining strawberries on the cheese-coated pie shell, large end down and tips up. Pour the sauce evenly over the berries.

Chill the pie in the refrigerator until set, at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. Top with whipped cream before serving.

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6 servings. Each serving: 711 calories; 502 mg sodium; 74 mg cholesterol; 40 grams fat; 18 grams saturated fat; 83 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams protein; 3.59 grams fiber.

Muffins for the Berry Glut

DEAR SOS: With the abundance of strawberries this year, I could use a recipe for strawberry muffins using fresh fruit.

RUTH DONALDSON

Camarillo

DEAR RUTH: They are abundant, delicious and reasonably priced. This recipe ran in The Times in 1988.

Strawberry Muffins

Active Work Time: 15 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 45 minutes

1 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Dash salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 egg

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup sliced strawberries, packed

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease 6 muffin cups or line them with paper cups.

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger and cinnamon. Set aside.

Beat the egg, butter, water and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Add the flour mixture and strawberries all at once, and stir or fold just until incorporated. Do not beat. The batter will be quite thick; let it stand 10 minutes.

Spoon the batter into the muffins cups. Bake the muffins until golden, about 25 minutes. Serve warm.

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6 muffins. Each muffin: 230 calories; 206 mg sodium; 55 mg cholesterol; 9 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 35 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 1.29 grams fiber.

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Send requests to Culinary SOS, Food Section, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012 or e-mail to: cindy.dorn@latimes.com. Please include your last name and city of residence for publication. Include restaurant address when requesting recipes from restaurants.

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