Rhubarb Bread Pudding

When I was researching Darina Allen for the game-changer series, I ran across this recipe. My mother's recipe for bread pudding is our all time favorite (my kids won't let me make any other kind)
, but how could I resist trying a rhubarb bread pudding? It was excellent, but more of a souffle bread pudding than the dense bread puddings I am accustomed to. Here's a big plus:  this is one of those dishes that is even better if it sits overnight in the fridge before baking; so you can prepare it a day in advance and bake it the next day.

Rhubarb Bread and Butter Pudding
Via Epicurious, March 2007 by Darina Allen, From A Year at Ballymaloe Cookery School 

1 pound red rhubarb
4 tablespoons butter, preferably unsalted
12 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed
2 cups cream
1 cup milk
4 extra large free-range eggs, beaten lightly
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon extra sugar, for sprinkling on top of pudding
Garnish: whipped cream

Cut the rhubarb into 1-inch pieces. Put into a dish and sprinkle with sugar. Let macerate for an hour. 
Butter the bread. Arrange four slices, buttered-side down, in one layer in the buttered baking dish. Scatter half the rhubarb over the bread, and cover with another layer of bread, buttered-side down. Scatter the remaining rhubarb on top and cover with the remaining bread, buttered-side down. 
Whisk together the cream, milk, eggs, vanilla, and sugar in a bowl. Pour the mixture through a fine strainer over the bread. Sprinkle the extra spoonful of sugar over the top. Let the mixture stand, covered loosely, for at least 1 hour or refrigerate overnight. 
Preheat the oven to 350°F. 
Bake in a water bath — the water should be boiling and come halfway up the sides of the baking dish — in the middle of the preheated oven, for about 1 hour or until the top is crisp and golden. Server the pudding warm, with some cream or softly whipped cream. 


A Simple Summer Salad

This has become a favorite lunch of mine. With the fresh asparagus, lemon zest and salty tang of Parmesan, it's the perfect combination. Aren't the colors wonderful? I cook the asparagus stove top in a little olive oil, which makes its own vinaigrette when you add the lemon juice. You also could roast them in the oven or if you have a grill, you could do the asparagus outside and serve this as a first course for supper.

Warm Asparagus Salad

Found in Very Fond of Food by Sophie Dahl

12 asparagus spears
2 eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Boil the eggs about 4 or 5 minutes, not completely hard boiled. Plunge into cold water and peel.
Cut the tough ends off the asparagus and heat the grill or a pan on the stove to high heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and grill the asparagus until brown and done, about 5 minutes.
Arrange on a plate, sprinkle with the Parmesan, zest, salt and pepper. Arrange the eggs on top and sprinkle with the lemon juice and remaining olive oil.

Serves 2.


The Picnic Game: Baked Beans

Did you ever play the picnic game as a child? Well, Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations is hosting a virtual Picnic. In order to participate in the Picnic Game, each blogger chooses a letter and brings a dish that begins with that letter.  Join in the fun!

I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing.....

Artichokes Steamed and Dressed with Mayonnaise from Mae at Mae's Food Blog

And my letter is B: Baked Beans

Be sure to visit Louise next weekend for all the other letters and their matching dishes!

Ah yes...I remember when I used to spend two days making perfect baked beans. And every once in a while I still make them from scratch. But my mother, because we did a lot of picnicking on the boat, knew tons of shortcuts for picnic foods. These baked beans are a perfect example.
The ingredients were never written down, but I've been making it forever so did some guesswork for this post. Just eyeball it and if you need or want more of anything, add it. Obviously, we love bacon. We never cared for soupy baked beans either; you'll find these just right: they won't leak sauce into all the other items on your plate. 

Mother's Speedy Baked Beans

2   28 ounce cans Baked Beans
(I used original pork and beans; nothing fancy)
1/2  pound  bacon, diced, raw, diced
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup light brown sugar

Drain both cans of beans slightly; just the juices on top is enough. (The brand I used to use is not available at my market anymore. I didn't have to drain those.) Pour 1 can of beans into a casserole. Sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon dry mustard, then about 1/4 cup light brown sugar. Pour in the other can of beans and cover with 1/2 cup ketchup and the raw diced bacon. Bake, uncovered, in a 375 oven for an hour or until bacon is crisp and the beans bubbly.


Pecan Pie Cupcakes

These simple cupcakes are little gems, especially if you like pecan pie. The batter is very fluid and as the cupcakes bake, the pecans rise to the top just like a pecan pie. The bottom of the cupcake is very moist and tastes like maple syrup. You must use cupcake liners and allow them to cool, although I gave in at the warm stage and tried one. As long as you peel the liner off carefully, all will be well. These are super to take along for picnics or backyard grilling.

Impossible Pecan Pie Cupcakes
From Baking Bites

2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
3/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups chopped, toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 16 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together brown sugar and butter until light. Whisk in eggs, followed by maple syrup, milk and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth.
Add in flour mixture and whisk until flour is very well incorporated and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Divide pecans evenly into prepared muffin cups. Pour batter over pecans. Batter should just cover the pecans in each muffin cup.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cakes are set and spring back when gently pressed.
Cool on a wire rack. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before removing wrappers.

Makes 16.


Plum Flognarde

They look like peaches in the closeup, don't they? But they're plums. I've made a cherry clafouti, which is the only true clafouti...anything made with other fruits are called flognarde (pronounced flow  nyard)....but couldn't resist trying this. The plums in the market tempted me. I found this recipe a tad more custardy (is that a word?) than my cherry clafouti recipe, but it was still awfully good. Perhaps served with a little cream? Not ice cream. Cold coffee cream on this warm flognarde would be perfect, although we liked it plain with a bit of confectioners sugar sprinkled on top.

Plum Flognarde

Adapted from La Tartine Gourmande via Pastry Affair 

1 pound plums, cut in half with stones removed (I used 6 medium sized plums) 
2 tablespoons sugar + 1/2 cup sugar 
2 tablespoons butter 
3 eggs 
1/2 cup heavy cream 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 cup milk 
1/4 cup cornstarch

Preheat oven to 410 degrees F (210 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9-inch baking dish.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter and sprinkle on 2 tablespoons sugar. Place halved plums face down into the butter and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1/2 cup sugar until well blended. Whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla.

In a small bowl, mix together milk and cornstarch until well combined. Whisk milk mixture into egg mixture.

Place plums face up in prepared baking dish. Pour the liquids over the plums. Bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve warm, with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Keep refrigerated in a covered container.


Marion Cunningham's Lemon Pancakes

If you're looking for a refreshing summer weekend breakfast, look no farther. This recipe reminded me of Val and her slow Sundays. I love those recipes! Light as air, these pancakes puff up while cooking and then flatten out somewhat when you plate them. Such a tender mouthful when you bite into a stack and if you top with some fresh strawberries or raspberries (even better, fresh raspberry syrup), you'll have a breakfast or brunch to remember. Frankly, with that fabulous lemon flavor, I think they're marvelous plain, but if your family has a sweet tooth, you could always use syrup, or honey....as I did in the photo. I fold them in half and eat them almost as fast as I make them. 

Marion Cunningham's recipes are so good and this cookbook is a complete gem.

Bench note: Don't make the pancakes too big; it makes them difficult to turn in the pan. Three large tablespoons for each is perfect.

Lemon Pancakes

From The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham

3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

Separate the eggs and beat the whites until stiff peaks form.
In another bowl add egg yolks along with the remaining ingredients and with the same beaters you used for the whites, beat the mixture until well mixed.
Fold the egg whites carefully until you no longer see white streaks.
Heat a skillet or griddle and grease lightly. Use about 3 large tablespoons of batter for each pancake, no more. Cook slowly for a couple minutes, then turn and cook for another minute. Keep warm in a 250 oven while cooking the remaining pancakes. Makes about 12 three inch pancakes.


Dad's Pineapple Sherbet

As a child, my home was on the St. Clair River in a little town in Michigan called Algonac; the river is important because it connects the Great Lakes and
vessels can travel between the upper and lower Great Lakes. As a result,  freighters were a common sight tooling right by in front of our house. It was quite amazing actually (which I've come to realize since returning as an adult), because the river is extremely narrow in many places and these freighters are enormous. The river is also the international boundary between the Canadian province of Ontario and Michigan.

My dad, who was not exactly comfortable in the kitchen, made two things of note: caramel popcorn and pineapple sherbet. And we made the sherbet in winter as ice was readily available. The river often froze over.....I remember skating on it as a child....which, needless to say, caused huge problems for shipping. A hefty current, busy freighter traffic and Coast Guard cutters help to keep the ice moving, but there are times when there are still ice jams. Once 18 freighters in a line got jammed up in the ice.

At any rate, Dad would go down to the shore and get ice for our ice cream maker. One of those old hand churning wooden ones. We'd set things up in the basement where there was drain in the floor because ice with lots of salt sprinkled on each layer led to water seeping out of the holes in the sides. Then we'd all take turns churning.
It was a wonder there was ever much ice cream left as Dad would open the top to see if the ice cream was done, and we'd all dip our spoons in. The tasting became more fun than eating the finished ice cream. We loved Dad's pineapple sherbet. 
My children had his caramel popcorn often enough, but by the time they were old enough to enjoy churning ice cream, my parents had moved to Florida and the old churn was left behind.

Now that summer is upon us, and even though our rivers and lakes aren't frozen :), I thought you might like to try my dad's recipe. Would you believe this is the first time I've ever made it in over 40 years? Things are so much simpler now; I almost feel as though I'm cheating.

    Dad, Mackinac Island, 1960

Dad's Pineapple Sherbet

3 eggs, beaten
2 cups half and half
1 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups whipping cream
12 ounces crushed pineapple, undrained
2 lemons, juice only

In a saucepan, over medium heat, heat the 1/2 and 1/2; do not allow to boil. Beat  the eggs and sugar. Temper the eggs and then pour everything back, and cook, whisking, until the mixture thickens a bit or  until a thermometer reads 160° and the mixture coats a spoon.  Once again, do not allow to boil. Strain. Cool. 
Add the whipping cream, lemon juice and pineapple. Chill overnight. Churn away!

It freezes hard, so you'll have to let it soften a bit to scoop. I topped it with some fresh pineapple caramelized in butter, dark brown sugar and dark rum, so the warmth melted the sherbet a bit.


Francis Coulson's Strawberry Pots de Crème

I found this lovely summer dessert in Simon Hopkinson's book, Roast Chicken and Other Stories. He credits finding the recipe in what he refers to as a "sadly forgotten book" entitled The Good Food Guide Dinner Party Book. The restaurant that served these 
Pots de Crème had been in this guide for many years: Sharrow Bay Hotel in the Lake district in England. Francis Coulson was the owner and chef.

Some background: Francis Coulson saw an old fisherman’s lodge dating back to 1840 advertised in the Manchester Guardian newspaper as "a mansion on the edge of Ullswater with 12 acres of grounds and formal gardens." It's said he arrived by train with his suitcase and a saucepan tied to the outside. He had very little cash, no experience and a great deal of faith. With the magnificent views of Lake Ullswater and its surrounding fells he felt that if he worked hard and with a bit of financial help from his father, he would probably be successful. (The only cooking experience for Francis I could discover were some
 pastry-making lessons from Renee Atkinson. They must have been pretty damn good lessons, because everyone loved the food and raved about his croissants and brioches as well as scones and cakes.)

Sharrow Bay Hotel opened in the spring of 1949 with five bedrooms and coined the phrase ‘country house hotel’ for the first time. In
 1952 Francis (d. 1998) was joined by Brian Sack (d. 2002) who had trained at the Node Hotel and the two ran the hotel for the rest of their lives. Coulson was dedicated to his kitchen, championing British food and cooking, while Sack cosseted and entertained their many devotees. It is reputedly the place where sticky toffee pudding was invented in 1960. And, of course, where this recipe came from. Sharrow Bay was Egon Ronay Guide's Hotel of the Year in 1974, and Restaurant of the Year in 1980. Since 1967, Sharrow Bay has enjoyed membership in the Relais et Chateaux Association of small hotels. The hotel has been part of the Von Essen Hotels group since 2003 and won a star in the Michelin Guide in 2008. 

This refreshing and pretty dessert is easy to make, light, not very sweet, served chilled and can be made a day ahead. Hopkinson suggests serving it with a touch of heavy whipping cream, not whipped, but "poured on top so that each time you take a spoonful, the cream fills up the hole." I know just what he meant.

Francis Coulson's Strawberry Pots de Crème
From Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson

8 ounces strawberries, hulled
3 tablespoons sugar
4 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons Cointreau

Preheat oven to 275. Puree the strawberries in a blender with the sugar and egg yolks. Strain through a find sieve, then stir in the cream and Cointreau. Mix well and pour into individual ramekins. Bake in a water bath for about 1 hour. Check towards the end. The custards should be just set and slightly wobbly in the center. They will continue cooking as they cool. When cooled, chill for at least 6 hours and serve with a little heavy cream poured on top.
You  can make this with raspberries as well.


Poilâne Love

I love Paris.

I especially love Poilâne Bakery

And I'm joining Anita for her Simply Irresistible Paris Party!

oui, c'est ici! Amusez-vous!

The Bakery:

The Bread:

The Baking:

The Tartines:

The Pastries:

Ooh la la! Now are you in Love too?
It's irresistible, n'est-ce pas? Believe it or not, you can order it HERE.
Au revoir mes amis!


Peach Melba Shortbread Squares

This may be a short intro, but trust me when I say this delight of a bar speaks a thousand words. It's a Southern Living recipe and I took them to our year-end luncheon at the Garden Club recently. Does everyone love peach melba as much as I do? Of course, a little vanilla ice cream on top of this bar would make this recipe more authentic (Oh the calories!), but trust me when I say these are marvelous as is. Everyone wanted the recipe!

Peach Melba Shortbread Bars
From Southern Living


2 cups all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 cup cold butter 
1 cup peach preserves 
6 teaspoons raspberry preserves 
1/2 cup sliced almonds 
Garnish with powdered sugar 

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until crumbly. Reserve 1 cup flour mixture.
Lightly grease an 11- x 7-inch or 9-inch square pan. Press remaining flour mixture onto bottom of prepared pan.
Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
Spread peach preserves over crust in pan. Dollop raspberry preserves by 1/2 teaspoonfuls over peach preserves. Sprinkle reserved 1 cup flour mixture over preserves. Sprinkle with almonds.

Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool 1 hour on a wire rack. They're easier to cut if you refrigerate for a while. Cut into bars. Garnish with confectioners sugar, if desired.


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