Rhubarb Poundcake

This time of year I always look forward to the arrivals of all the late spring fruits: rhubarb, peaches and apricots are by far my favorites. They've all arrived in my market now as is obvious by my posts. For those of you who follow me, I guess I don't need to remind you how many rhubarb recipes you see from me each spring! I even have a Pinterest board entitled "Just Rhubarb"! I'm a purist and don't like to mix it with other fruits, so you'll not find any strawberry/rhubarb combos here. I honestly think my all time favorite is the rhubarb ice cream I posted three years ago, but I keep finding gems to post....and here's one for you pound cake lovers. I love the tartness of rhubarb and it shines right through in this pound cake. Can you see how tender a crumb this cake has? I always think sour cream or yogurt has a great deal to do with that. 
This freezes a dream too!

Rhubarb Poundcake

From Pastry Affair

2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a loaf pan, then sprinkle with unflavored bread crumbs. Tap out excess.

In a medium frying pan, mix the cut rhubarb with 1/4 cup sugar. Over medium-high heat, cook the rhubarb until it is fork tender but not mushy, about 5 minutes. The rhubarb needs to be able to hold its shape or it will get lost in the cake batter. Cool.

In your mixer, beat together the butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well between additions. Mix in the vanilla bean paste, sour cream, and salt until uniform. Stir in the flour until just incorporated. Gently fold in the rhubarb pieces and any juice remaining in the pan.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with a tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


Memorial Day: Honoring the Fallen

Memorial Day has always been considered the beginning of summer in my family and what with all our festive picnics and parades, sometimes we lose sight of what Memorial Day really means:

A day for honoring the fallen.


Fresh Apricot Oatmeal Bars

Ah yes.... following closely behind peaches, I've found fresh apricots in my market! Almost as exciting as finding fresh rhubarb...almost. Apricot season doesn't last long, so grab while you can and make these delicious bars. Not the kind of bar you can pick up with your fingers (or do it cautiously with a napkin underneath), more like a piece of pie with a crumb crust. You don't need a thing on top...these are the perfect sweetness and texture. You're going to love this recipe.

Fresh Apricot Oatmeal Bars

From pastry studio


8 (1 lb, 4 oz) ripe apricots                                      
3 tablespoons sugar, to taste                     
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon water                                                                                               
1/4 vanilla bean

1 1/2 cups flour                         
1 1/4 cups old fashioned oatmeal                                          
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar                                     
6 oz (12 tablespoons) cold butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease an 8” square pan and line with a piece of parchment paper large enough to form an overhang along two sides of the pan.

Cut the apricots into 1/2" slices.  Place them in a saucepan along with the sugar, honey and water.  Split and seed a 1/4 portion of a vanilla bean and add the seeds and the pod.  Cook on low heat for about 5 minutes at a slow simmer or until the apricots just begin to become tender.  Add more sugar to taste as baking brings out the tartness of apricots. Take off the heat and cool.  Remove vanilla pod. (I didn't have a vanilla pod, so used a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste.)

Combine the flour, oatmeal, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Process until ingredients are combined and the oats are chopped up a bit but not ground completely.

Cut the cold butter into 1/2” pieces and add to the dry ingredients along with the vanilla.  Pulse. The mixture should remain a bit loose but hold together when pinched.  Pour into a bowl and toss with your hands.

Press about 2/3 of the oatmeal mixture into the prepared pan to form an even bottom layer.  Bake until the surface is puffed up and looks dry and slightly browned, about 15 – 20 minutes.

Pour the simmered apricots on top and spread to within 1/4” of the edges.  Top with the remaining crumb mixture, making sure to distribute to the edges and the corners to form a border.  Press down gently to secure.

Bake until the crumb topping is lightly browned around the edges, about 20 - 25 minutes.  Place the pan on a wire rack to cool completely.  Run a thin knife around the edges and gently lift out of the pan using the parchment overhang to assist.  Cut into bars.


Roasted Vegetable Clafoutis

Usually, a clafoutis is a fruit and custard dessert. Here we have a savory version...with roasted vegetables and Parmesan. I was able to find nearly all the unusual ingredients at Whole Foods, but if not available in your area, substitute anything reasonably close. We thought there was too much potato, but small purple sweet potatoes were not available and I found one large and cut it in half before roasting....it turned out to be too much, even after quartering. Fingerlings were not available either and I substituted small Yukon Golds, which no doubt added even more potato than needed. We both wanted more veggies and less potato, but this was not a problem with the recipe, just my not adjusting the recipe properly.

Because time was an issue, I roasted the vegetables the day before and refrigerated them, then made the custard right before baking the next day. Worked out fine. We loved the dish and I would make it again. 

Roasted Vegetable Clafoutis

From Food and Wine

Ingredients for the vegetables:
8 medium carrots of varying colors (3/4 pound)
6 baby beets of varying colors (about 4 ounces), scrubbed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing
6 fingerling potatoes
2 small purple sweet potatoes (3/4 pound total)
2 heads baby orange cauliflower (about 4 ounces), cut into 3/4-inch florets
1/2 small head Romanesco broccoli, cut into 3/4-inch florets (3 cups)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Ingredients for the batter:
1 3/4 cups half-and-half
4 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for sprinkling
Kosher salt
Softened butter, for greasing

Preheat your oven to 400°. Spread the carrots and beets on 2 separate sheets of foil and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Fold up the edges of the foil sheets to make two sealed packets. 
On a small baking sheet, rub the fingerling and sweet potatoes with olive oil and prick them all over with a fork. 
In a medium baking dish, toss the cauliflower and broccoli florets with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. 
Roast the broccoli and cauliflower for about 15 minutes, the potatoes for about 30 minutes and the carrots and beets for about 35 minutes, until all of the vegetables are tender and the broccoli and cauliflower are browned in spots. 
Let cool slightly. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into quarters lengthwise; peel the fingerling potatoes and cut them in half lengthwise. Season the roasted vegetables lightly with salt and pepper. 

In a blender, combine the half-and-half with the eggs, flour, 1/2 cup of the cheese and 2 teaspoons salt and blend until smooth. 

Butter a 9-inch-square glass or ceramic baking dish and sprinkle all over with cheese. Arrange the vegetables in the baking dish in 2 stacked layers, lining them up in the same direction. Pour the batter on top. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of cheese and bake in the center of the oven for about 45 minutes, until puffed, golden and set; cover the dish with foil halfway through to prevent over-browning. Let the clafoutis cool slightly, then cut into squares and serve. 


Sophie Dahl's Rhubarb Rosewater Eton Mess

Well, it's sort of Sophie's recipe. I used mine for the meringues. Nonetheless, it's everyone's favorite and you most often see it made with strawberries, but puhleeze!!! There's rhubarb in my market! 
Another plus: if you must, you can cheat and use meringues from your bakery or supermarket bakery. But this dessert is so much better using homemade meringues. 
(Lordy! Could this be any more fattening?)

Sophy Dahl's Rhubarb Rosewater Eton Mess

Ingredients for the meringues:
3 egg whites, room temperature 
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar 
3/4 cup sugar 
1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste

Ingredients for the rhubarb compote:
scant 1/2 cup boiling water
3 tablespoons sugar
4 sticks of rhubarb chopped in rounds
1 teaspoon rosewater

Ingredients for the whipped cream:

2 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Garnish: toasted almond slivers and/or crystallized rose petals

Method for the meringues:
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in mixer bowl with whisk attachment on high speed until foamy. Beating constantly, add sugar, a little bit at a time, beating after each addition until sugar is dissolved before adding the next. Continue beating until whites are glossy and stand in stiff peaks. Beat in vanilla.
Prepare your baking sheet with parchment paper. Hard meringues are not actually baked, but are dried in a 225°F oven for 1 to 1-1/2 hours. They are left in the oven after it is turned off to continue drying without browning.

Method for the Rhubarb compote:
In a pan, boil the water with the sugar and add the rhubarb when it starts bubbling. Stir and let it cook for about 5 minutes on a medium heat. When the rhubarb is tender, remove from the heat. Add the rose water and leave to the side.

Method for the whipped cream:

Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Add the vanilla bean paste.

To serve: add a dollop of whipped cream to the bottom of your serving dish. Break up the meringue and place half of it on top, then add the rhubarb, then some whipped cream. Repeat, ending with the whipped cream. Top with browned almonds or crystallized rose petals.


Mother's Pickled Beet Salad

                                             Happy Mother's Day!

Rarely a day goes by that I don't remember my mother....either wanting to share some little tidbit of information, or just simply ask a question. So often I say aloud to her: I wish you could see how this or that has changed, or you wouldn't believe what color they painted your condo building!, what your grandchildren are doing now, or just share something that amuses me that only she would understand.
This was taken in 1956, the day I was married.

Mother (and yes, we called her "Mother" and not mom. her insistance) is certainly remembered for her skill in the kitchen...of course, we named recipes after her: Grandma's sandwiches (I must post those some time!) or Mother's Frozen Fruit Salad for the holidays, the list goes on and on. I'm sure you all do the same thing.

We did a great deal of picnicking when I was a child...mostly on our boat. In my mind's eye I can still see my dad hauling a huge wicker laundry basket (do they even make those anymore?) filled with picnic food, toted off the front porch, onto the dock and into the boat. You can be sure there would be blueberry or rhubarb pie, hamburger or hot dogs for a cookout, and always a variety of cold salads. One of my favorites was a pickled beet salad. My children always hated it and so did my sister, I recently discovered. :)  But I loved it (as did my father) and had such fun making it for this post, as I'm the only one who will eat it!

I suppose you could pickle your own beets, which I did NOT do for this post, but HERE is a link if you'd like a recipe. I wanted to keep this simple for busy lives, so I used bottled pickled beets. It brought back many memories when I lunched on it. I've made a few minor changes over the years as mother's recipe was just the beets, mayo and salt and pepper.

Mother's Pickled Beet Salad

3 jars chilled pickled beet slices, drained
6 hard boiled eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise (You may need more or less of the mayo/sour cream mixture)
1/4 cup sour cream or yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

salt and pepper


Drain beets well. Quarter the eggs and combine carefully with the beets. Mix the remaining ingredients together and toss with the egg and beet mixture. Serve on lettuce.


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