Stepping Out of My Element

I’m pretty selective when it comes to recipe sources. I have my top tier sources (primarily Smitten Kitchen and America’s Test Kitchen / Cook’s Illustrated / Cook’s Country), and my line of solid back-ups (headlined by Elly Says Opa!, The Brewer and the Baker, Annie’s Eats and Farm Fresh Feasts), but, aside from a few other blogs and magazines, I generally don’t stray too far.

After all, a pretty Pinterest picture doesn’t mean the recipe will actually be successful. (Yes, I’m the only woman in the western hemisphere who hasn’t fallen down the Pinterest recipe rabbit hole, and I’m OK with that.) And even though I love spending time in the kitchen, I don’t want to waste my time there. If I’m cooking something, I want it to be worth the time and ingredients.

That’s why this recipe surprised me. Someone (my Grandma, maybe?) shared a link to it on Facebook, and since I was knee-deep in rhubarb at the time, I thought it was worth investigating.

These make a very soft, cakey cookie. They’re best in the first day or so, as the moisture causes the cookies to stick together in the container. The flavor is great, and they mixed up in no time – chopping the rhubarb took the most time! I found a science experiment growing in the sour cream tub when I opened it, so I subbed Greek yogurt for the sour cream with no ill effects.

I realized afterwards, though, that my cookie scoop is about twice the size of the scoop called for in the recipe. Which explains why I got about two dozen cookies when the recipe yield said 40. I liked the size of the cookies from my 2-tablespoon scoop, so I’ll probably keep making them that way. No one ever complained about a bigger cookie, right?

I’m not sure if the recipe would work with frozen rhubarb, unless it was really, really well-drained. So, I might just save these for spring baking. It never hurts to have another seasonal dessert. And maybe I’ll try recipes from new places more often!


Rhubarb Cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups finely diced rhubarb

Preheat the oven to 350°  and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk the first four dry ingredients together in a small bowl and set them aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until they are light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until well-combined. Mix in the sour cream and vanilla until well-combined.

Add about one-half of the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix until just combined. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until almost combined. Stir in the rhubarb and mix until the rhubarb is evenly distributed throughout the batter and no pockets of flour remain.

Use a cookie scoop to drop tablespoon-ish sized scoops of the batter on the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies 2″ apart.

Bake until the cookies start to brown along the edges and just a little on the top, about 10-12 minutes. Remove cookies from the oven and let cool on pan for a few minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.

From the Today Show

Click here for a printable version.


Neighborly Love

As soon as Andy and I bought our house, we knew we’d won the neighbor lottery. We closed on the house on a June afternoon, and, like any newly-minted homeowners, went right over to see our new place. Duane and Joyce came over to introduce themselves and gave us a quart of fresh-picked strawberries from their garden. Welcome to the neighborhood, indeed.

Since then, they’ve shared lots of fresh produce with us – everything from tomatoes and zucchini to butternut squash and the world’s largest cabbage. They spend lots of time cultivating their garden, and it shows. The veggies are in neat rows, without a weed in sight. The tomato plants are twice the size of ours. The lettuce plants don’t even have dirt on their leaves! (They put a ground cover over the dirt next to the lettuce, so the rain doesn’t splash mud on the plants. So smart.) It’s as close to perfect as a garden can get. Maybe someday ours will look half as good.

One day early on, Joyce asked us if we liked rhubarb. I told her that I thought we did, and she gave us a plate of rhubarb squares to try. If we liked them, she said we could have some rhubarb from their flourishing rhubarb plant. We ate the squares in record time, so I made sure to get the recipe along with some rhubarb from Joyce.

We now have our own rhubarb plants (which have started to take over the entire garden), and this is the first rhubarb dish I make each spring. You use the same mixture for both the crumb topping and the bottom crust, which saves time AND dishes. It’s a flexible recipe too, letting you swap rhubarb for strawberries or apples (or a combination if you choose), but, nine times out of 10, I’ll make the rhubarb version. And every time we eat it, I’m so glad we live where we do. 🙂

rhubarb squares

Rhubarb Squares

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, oatmeal and brown sugar. Pour the melted butter over the top of the flour mixture and mix until combined. (It will be crumblier and looser than a batter – more like a pie dough.)  Reserve one cup of the mixture for the topping.

Press the remaining mixture in the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking pan. Set aside while you prepare the filling.

Whisk the sugar, water and cornstarch together in a medium saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat until mixture thickens and becomes clear. Stir in vanilla and then add chopped rhubarb. Pour filling over the crust in the prepared pan. Sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture over the top of the filling.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until filling is bubbling and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool before slicing.

From my neighbor, Joyce

Click here for a printable version.

Making Up With Pie

Last weekend, pie and I got into a fight. I spent most of Saturday making two lemon meringue pies, and by the end of the day, pie crust and I were not on speaking terms. I don’t know what it is about blind-baked crusts, but they do not bring out the best in me. Andy’s been known to flee the kitchen (or even the house) when I’m fighting with pie crust. Smart man.

In my search for the perfect lemon meringue pie, I stumbled upon something that sounded much better: Deep-Dish Rhubarb Cherry Berry pie. Why was I fighting with blind baked crusts and tempering eggs? I had all the necessary fruit in my freezer! I should bake this instead!

Well, I had to  make the lemon pie to share with our Sunday school class, but that didn’t keep me from thinking about the pie that should have been. And when you get stuck on a recipe, there’s really only one thing you can do: BAKE THE DANG PIE. So I went home and did just that, and it ended up being everything I’d hoped it would be.

It was the perfect combination of sweet and tart from the rhubarb, cherries and blueberries. The almond extract melded perfectly with the fruit, and (wonder of wonders) the filling thickened up perfectly. I had been a little concerned that we’d end up with a pie that was too runny, as the cherries released a LOT of juice as they sat in the sugar.

I had the pie crust all rolled out and ready to go when I realized that the recipe wanted me to brush it with a beaten egg white to help keep the crust from getting soggy. Well, I HATE recipes that just call for part of an egg. What was I supposed to do with the yolk? We’d already eaten lunch, and breakfast for dinner wasn’t on the menu anytime soon. (Ironically enough, lunch had been scrambled eggs. The perfect solution for an extra yolk. GRRR.) So I skipped the whole “brush with beaten egg white” step, and you know what? We didn’t have a soggy crust!

And it was easy, as far as pies go. Yes, a lattice top looks fancy, but it doesn’t take that much more time than a regular double-crust pie. And yes, I made my own pie dough, but that takes all of 15 minutes with the pastry blender. Really, as long as you’re not blind-baking a crust, pies are fairly simple.

So there you have it. Pie and I are friends again. For now. Or at least until Andy requests a chocolate pie. 😉

Cherry Rhubarb Berry Pie
OK, not the greatest picture. We were on our way out the door (with the pie), and it was getting dark. 

Deep-Dish Rhubarb Cherry Berry Pie

Pie dough for a double-crust pie (I like Smitten Kitchen’s All Butter, Really Flaky Crust.)
1 generous pint of sour cherries, thawed and drained if frozen (Sweet cherries or strawberries can be substituted if you weren’t lucky enough to put some Door County cherries in your freezer last summer.)
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided, plus extra for sprinkling
1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, thawed and drained if frozen
1 generous pint of blueberries
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 375°. Place an empty baking sheet on the lower rack of the oven to catch any drips.

In a large bowl, toss the cherries with 1/2 cup of sugar. Set aside while you prepare the pie crust.

Divide the pie dough into two slightly even pieces. On a floured surface, roll the larger piece out into a circle large enough for a 9″ deep dish pie pan. Gently fold the dough into quarters and transfer it to the pie pan. Unfold the dough and press it into the pie pan. Trim the edges of the dough, leaving a small (1/2″ – 3/4″) overhang.

Roll the second piece of dough out into a 10″ circle. Using a knife (or pastry wheel if you’re fancy), cut the circle into 3/4″-wide strips.

Add the rhubarb, blueberries and almond extract to the cherry-sugar mixture. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining cup of sugar, cornstarch, salt and cinnamon. Sprinkle the sugar-cornstarch-salt-cinnamon mixture over the fruit and gently stir to combine.

Pour the fruit mixture into the prepared pie shell. Place half of the lattice strips across the pie, parallel to each other, at about 1/2″ intervals. One at a time, place the remaining strips across the pie in the opposite direction, lifting the other strips to “weave” the strips together in a lattice pattern. Press the ends of the strips into the bottom crust and fold the edges of the bottom crust over the edge of the pie plate and crimp the edges. Sprinkle the lattice strips with sugar.

Place a large piece of foil over the top of the pie and place the pie in the oven. Bake the pie for 20 minutes, then remove the foil. Bake the pie until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.  (The book says this will take 30-40 additional minutes; mine took nearly an hour.) If the edges of the crust begin to brown too quickly, cover them with pieces of aluminum foil. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Serve warm or at room temperature, with vanilla ice cream if you have it.

Barely adapted from Classic Home Desserts

Click here for a printable version.

My Latest Obsession

A few weeks ago, I had a life-changing experience. OK, maybe just kitchen-changing. Either way… my friend Bethany started experimenting with browned butter, and, well, let’s just say that I am going to BROWN BUTTER ALL THE THINGS. Seriously. She made two batches of butter pecan cookies (one with browned butter and one without), and the flavor difference was amazing. And then we got together and made brown butter cupcakes, and from there, things have been spiraling out of control. I made brown butter rice krispie treats (another Smitten Kitchen win). I got irrationally excited when we accidentally browned the butter for some scrambled eggs.

Like I said, it’s out of control. Once you brown butter something, you’ll never go back. (I’m even starting to ponder the idea of brown butter ice cream….)

When I ended up with lots of extra rhubarb compote, I decided to turn it into cupcake filling, and naturally, I went with the brown butter cupcake. I thought it would go well with both the rhubarb filling and the cream cheese frosting. The brown butter batter is so great; it’s actually a shame to bake it, as the flavor after baking isn’t nearly as prominent. I’m still trying to figure out a way to fix that. Until then, I’ll just settle for licking the beater while the cupcakes are in the oven. 😀

A couple notes about these cupcakes: Annie’s recipe says that the recipe makes about 28 cupcakes. I must have under-filled mine or something, because I got 24 full-sized cupcakes and 24 mini cupcakes out of one batch of batter. The first time Bethany and I made the cupcakes, we got about 28 out of the batch. If you wind up with about two dozen cupcakes, one batch of frosting should be enough. (I raided my “extra frosting” stash in the freezer to take care of my extras.)

Brown Butter Rhubarb Cupcakes

Brown Butter Cupcakes with Rhubarb Filling and Cream Cheese Frosting

For the cupcakes:
2 sticks of unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 cups of cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 eggs, at room temperature (I take the eggs out of the fridge when I start browning the butter.)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
~ 3/4 cup of Rhubarb Compote (click over to the rhubarb ice cream sandwich post for the compote recipe)

For the frosting:
10 ounces cream cheese, chilled
6 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
4 teaspoons vanilla extract

To make the cupcakes, place the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. (Here are my brown butter tips. #1: Do not use a cast iron skillet – you won’t be able to see when the butter is brown. #2: Lower heat may take longer to brown, but it splatters SIGNIFICANTLY less than a higher heat, and I’d rather wait an extra 5 minutes for brown butter than spend 10 minutes scrubbing the kitchen, but that’s just me.) Let the butter melt. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter is a deep golden brown color and smells delicious. (Tip #3: DO NOT LEAVE THE BUTTER. It’s as needy as risotto. It’s also prone to burning if left unattended.) When the butter is browned, remove the pan from the burner and pour the butter into the bowl of your stand mixer. Allow the butter to cool slightly.

When the butter has cooled for a few minutes, add the sugars to the mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is smooth and the bowl is slightly warm to the touch.

While your mixture is beating, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line the pans with cupcake liners. Set the prepared pans aside, and, then, in a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt.

Beat the eggs into the butter/sugar mixture one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. After mixing the last egg into the batter, add the vanilla and mix until combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk in three additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans, filling them about two-thirds of the way full. Bake until the cupcakes test done with a toothpick, about 18 minutes. Remove from the oven. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pans for a few minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and mix on low speed until blended. Add the vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.

To assemble the cupcakes, use a paring knife to cut a small cone out of the center of each cupcake. Fill each cupcake with a heaping teaspoon of rhubarb compote. (Leftover cake scraps and compote make an excellent snack for the cook… and the resident taste-tester.) Frost with cream cheese frosting. (I used a piping bag and the Wilton 1M tip.) Store frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator.

Cupcakes from Annie’s Eats, who adapted them from Confections of a Foodie Bride. Frosting originally from Annie’s Eats, also originally from Confections of a Foodie Bride. Rhubarb compote from Smitten Kitchen.

Click here for a printable version.


Seasonal Eating

I have to admit, as a food blogger, I’m kind of jealous of people in other parts of the country right now. I mean, Kirsten’s farm share started this week. (If you want new ideas for your veggies this summer, she is the woman to follow. Seriously.) Shawnda is PICKING PEACHES ALREADY. (Yes, she lives in Texas, and I live in Wisconsin. Let’s not get hung up on the details here, people.) I feel like everyone else in the world has all sorts of tasty, seasonal produce at their disposal, and here I sit, wondering why I have NINE measly bean plants coming up when I put an entire seed packet into the ground three weeks ago. Something must have been wrong with those seeds. Grrr.

Right now, rhubarb is the only pickable thing in my garden. So, rather than moping about the situation, I’m embracing it. I’ve made rhubarb muffins. And rhubarb lemonade. And now, rhubarb ice cream sandwiches. Oh yes. Last year, when I made rhubarb ice cream, I mentioned that my original idea had been a vanilla custard with a rhubarb swirl. I took that idea and turned it into the world’s most portable frozen dessert: the ice cream sandwich.

Based on last summer’s success with Annie’s lemon raspberry ice cream sandwiches, I used the same method for these bad boys. (Except, just like last year, I went with graham crackers from the store. I’m sure homemade graham crackers are amazing, but I only have so much free time. And if I’m going to bake something, it’s going to be more exciting than graham crackers. Just saying.) I used a slightly modified (one less egg yolk) version of my favorite vanilla ice cream. I went with a custard-based ice cream, rather than Andy’s favorite Philadelphia-style ice cream because the custard ice cream doesn’t melt quite as fast, which is important for both assembly AND for eating. I lined a 9″ x 13″ metal pan with waxed paper and spread the freshly-churned ice cream in an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Then I swirled the rhubarb compote through the vanilla ice cream and put the whole thing in the freezer to firm up overnight. The next morning, I cut the ice cream into squares and sandwiched it between the graham crackers, and then returned the sandwiches to the freezer for a final freeze.

Oh my, these were good. The only people who didn’t love them were the ones who don’t like rhubarb. (AKA… weirdos, haha.) The graham cracker softens slightly, and you get a perfect mix of tart and sweet. There’s one sandwich left in the freezer, and there could be a fight over who gets the last one… unless I eat it when Andy’s not around. 😉

Rhubarb Ice Cream Sandwiches

A couple notes about the compote: This makes WAY MORE than you’ll need for the ice cream sandwiches, which I probably should have realized BEFORE I made the entire batch. I actually upped the rhubarb quantity in the compote, just because that’s what I had in the fridge. I also increased the brown sugar to an entire cup, since I had an extra three or four ounces of rhubarb. You could cut the recipe in half, or you could just make the entire batch, and do exciting things with the rest of it. (So far I’ve filled brown butter cupcakes – SO GOOD – and I’m hoping to take the rest of it and make a rhubarb version of these popsicles.) It’s also really good by itself, and I’m guessing it’d be a nice addition to my morning oatmeal. In other words, I’d rather use extra compote than do the math to reduce the recipe. 🙂

Vanilla Rhubarb Ice Cream Sandwiches

For the ice cream:
5 egg yolks
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scrapped
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the rhubarb compote:
1 3/4 lbs. of fresh rhubarb, diced
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped

For assembly: 
Graham crackers, broken into squares (I used about 1 1/2 sleeves of store-bought graham crackers.)

To make the compote,combine the rhubarb, brown sugar and vanilla bean and seeds in a medium saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium low heat and cook, covered, until the mixture is saucy, about 15 minutes. Remove the lid and cook until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes or so. Allow the compote to cool completely before using. Remove the vanilla bean before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

To make the ice cream, combine the milk, one cup of the cream, sugar, salt and the vanilla bean and seeds in a medium saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks together in a small bowl until smooth. (I use my 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup.) Gradually add the warmed milk mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly, until the mixture is warm and well-combined. Pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.

Place the remaining cup of cream in a large glass bowl (again, I use my 8-cup Pyrex measuring cup) and set a fine mesh strainer over the top of the bowl. Pour the cooked custard through the strainer and into the cream. Mix the custard and the cream together and add the vanilla extract. If desired, you can remove the vanilla bean pod from the strainer and add it back into the custard base (after you make sure there aren’t any cooked egg chunks stuck to the pod).

Cover the bowl and cool the ice cream base in the refrigerator until it’s thoroughly chilled. (You can speed this process up by putting the bowl in the freezer and stirring it occasionally.)

Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While the ice cream is churning, line a 9″ x 13″ pan with waxed paper, leaving an overhang on the edges. Spread the churned ice cream in an even layer (about an inch thick) in the bottom of the pan. If the ice cream seems really soft after this step, put the pan in the freezer for about 15 minutes to allow it to firm up.

Dollop several spoonfuls of rhubarb compote across the top of the vanilla ice cream. (I’m guessing that I used about 1/2 cup of compote, but I didn’t measure.) Using a table knife or a wooden skewer, swirl the rhubarb through the vanilla ice cream. Cover the pan and return it to the freezer to freeze completely. (I left mine in the freezer overnight.) 

To assemble the ice cream sandwiches, remove the pan from the freezer and cut the ice cream into squares, using your graham cracker as a guideline. (I made my ice cream squares slightly smaller than the graham crackers so there wouldn’t be an overhang that could potentially melt before you had a chance to enjoy it.) Use a metal spatula to remove the ice cream squares from the pan and sandwich the squares between the graham crackers. Return the sandwiches to the freezer for one last time, and allow them to freeze until solid before enjoying. Store in an airtight container in the freezer.

Ice cream base adapted from Annie’s Eats, who got it from David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop.” Rhubarb Compote from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from “Good to the Grain.” Method from Annie’s Eats, who adapted it from Tartelette.

Click here for a printable version.

Rhubarb for Dinner

25 years ago, if you had asked me to eat this dish, I would have said no. (I’m sure that I would have said it in a completely stubborn AND adorable way. I’m also sure my mom agrees with me here.) As a child, I was very much in the anti-rhubarb camp. Looking back, I’m not sure why. 99.9% of rhubarb recipes are dessert recipes, involving sugar, sugar, and more sugar. What five-year-old wouldn’t love that? (I actually think my childhood rhubarb hang-ups were more psychological. It looked like celery to me, and I was NOT a fan of celery.) Luckily, my tastes have matured since then. 😉

Even so, if you had asked me to make this five years ago, I would have probably given you the side-eye and wondered why on earth you’d waste rhubarb in a main dish. Aren’t there enough crisps, cobblers, bars, cakes and pies for rhubarb? Why do we have to eat it for dinner? But, with age comes wisdom, and the knowledge that while there are indeed plenty of delicious rhubarb desserts, man cannot (or should not) exist on sugar alone.

And since rhubarb season happened to coincide with my cake decorating class, we really didn’t need any more dessert in the house. I thought about freezing the rhubarb from our first CSA share, but I already put quite a bit of rhubarb up for next winter. So when I saw this recipe in the New York Times, I was intrigued. Skeptical, but intrigued.

I scaled the recipe down, since I didn’t have an entire chicken on hand (and let’s face it, an entire chicken is more than I need to make for the two of us). I was pleasantly surprised by how easily it came together AND by how well it turned out. You do need to plan ahead – the chicken should hang out with the thyme for a few hours – but as long as you do that, it’s totally do-able on a weeknight. I’ll be the first to admit that the sauce isn’t the prettiest, but its bright, tart flavor flavor makes up for the drab appearance. (I did forget to add the butter to the sauce, but since we didn’t miss it, I’m omitting it from my directions below.) It got a solid four out of five stars from Andy, which means I’ll definitely be hanging on to this recipe – you know, for those days when we need a break from rhubarb pie. 😉

Rhubarb Chicken
Served this one with sauteed beet greens from our CSA and some sweet corn from my grandma. 🙂

Chicken with Rhubarb Sauce

2 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
5 sprigs of thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 scallions, white and light green parts finely chopped, dark green parts reserved for garnish
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
1/4 cup white wine* (I used my favorite… again.) 
1 1/2 teaspoons honey

Pat chicken dry with a paper towel and place in a bowl. Generously season with salt and pepper and place the thyme sprigs in the bowl with the chicken. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for at least an hour. If possible, let chicken sit overnight with the thyme. (Mine hung out in the fridge for about 10 hours while I was at work.) 

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the chicken in the pan, skin side down. Reserve the thyme sprigs. Cook the chicken until skin is nicely browned and releases easily from the pan. Flip the chicken over and cook until the other side is nicely browned as well. Remove the chicken from the pan and place on a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the white and light green scallion parts to the pan and cook until lightly browned and tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and reserved thyme sprigs and cook for another minute. Pour the wine into the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add the honey, 1/4 teaspoon salt and several grinds of fresh pepper to the pan. Stir to combine.

Add the chicken back to the pan in a single layer.** Cover and cook over medium-low heat until chicken reaches 165 degrees. Garnish chicken with reserved green onions and serve with rhubarb sauce.

*Chicken broth can be substituted for wine, if you find that you don’t quite have enough wine on hand… not that I’d know anything about that… 😉 

**If your sauce looks too dry or like it’s in danger of burning, you can add a splash of wine or chicken broth when you add the chicken. 

From the New York Times

Click here for a printable version.

Rhubarb: Not Just For Pie

Let’s start by admitting that this recipe is a little weird. For starters, it’s an ice cream recipe that uses the oven and doesn’t require an ice cream maker. And when was the last time you heard of a rhubarb ice cream?

When I first imagined rhubarb ice cream, I pictured a creamy, vanilla custard base with a rhubarb swirl running through it. And while I may get around to experimenting with that idea, this was the first recipe I found, so I decided to run with it. Roasting the rhubarb makes it soft and sweet, and even though there’s a lot of waiting with this recipe, it’s really easy to put together. I’m talking Sunday-afternoon easy. Pretty sure I made this in between naps a few weekends ago. (What? Rainy afternoons + golf on TV = naptime for me.) 

I reduced the sugar a bit, since I like my rhubarb treats to be more on the tart side of things. I also forgot to add the lemon juice (oops!) when I made this, but we never missed it. The recipe calls for freezing the mixture in a pan and stirring it occasionally, instead of using an ice cream maker. And while I was tempted to get out my ice cream maker anyway, I decided against it, thinking that the churning might deflate the whipped cream in the mixture.

So, yet again, we have found that weird is good. And since my rhubarb plants are still going strong (thank you, cooler-than-average spring), I think there’s room for a little more weirdness in our lives. 🙂


Rhubarb Ice Cream

3 cups sliced rhubarb
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss the rhubarb with the sugar and spread in a 9″ x 13″ baking pan. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until the rhubarb is tender, about 30 minutes, stirring about halfway through the baking time. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Place the rhubarb and all of its juices in a large bowl and, using an immersion blender, puree the rhubarb until smooth. (You could also use a regular blender, but I like my immersion blender better.) Chill the rhubarb mixture in the refrigerator until it is completely cold.

When the rhubarb is cold, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. (I used my KA mixer for this, but you could achieve the same results with a hand mixer, I think.) Gently fold the whipped cream into the chilled rhubarb mixture. Transfer to a 8″ x 8″ freezer-safe pan and cover the mixture. Freeze for an hour, gently stirring stirring the mixture every 15 minutes or so. After the first hour, allow the mixture to freeze until completely firm, or overnight.

Adapted from Taste of Home, June/July 2014

Click here for a printable version.

Cake. With Rhubarb. And Lemon.

I know I promised something other than dessert once our CSA started up again, but this cake is just begging to be shared. And who am I to say no to cake? Especially a lemon-rhubarb-buttermilk cake that’s baked in a bundt pan and then drizzled with a lemon glaze.

See? You’d talk about cake too, if you were me. 🙂

A couple of weeks ago, I decided that I wanted rhubarb cake. I also decided that it had been too long since I’d used my bundt pan, and, therefore, my rhubarb cake had to be made in said bundt pan. (You’d hate for bakeware to feel neglected, right?) 

Well, when you Google “rhubarb bundt cake” this recipe from Honey and Jam is one of the first ones that pops up. It had everything I was looking for – which I guess was just rhubarb, cake and a bundt pan. It even had the added bonus of helping me use up some buttermilk that was hanging out in my fridge. Win-win, right?

Well… sort of. Let’s just say that you’re not looking at a picture of this cake the first time I made it. That was mostly operator error on my part though. I didn’t butter the bundt pan thoroughly enough, and I rushed the cooling process. Put those together, and what you have is a hot mess. Only half of the cake flipped out of the pan, and while it tasted great, I was pretty bummed that I couldn’t cut it and serve it to anyone besides Andy.

I wasn’t going to give up on the cake though. Oh no. I made it again, not only buttering the pan but flouring it too, and I let it cool the full 30 minutes before flipping it out of the pan.

Much better.


Lemon Rhubarb Buttermilk Bundt Cake

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
1 3/4 cups sugar
zest of 1 lemon
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 lb. rhubarb, sliced into pieces about 1/4″ wide (I added some strawberries the second time I made this, and they worked well with the rhubarb/lemon combo.)

For the glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon butter, almost melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter and flour a 10-cup bundt pan.

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest together until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes on medium-high. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scrapping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Mix in the lemon juice.

Stir in the flour mixture in three additions, and stir in the buttermilk mixture in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. (In other words, add 1/3 of the flour, then 1/2 the buttermilk, then another 1/3 of the flour, then the rest of the buttermilk, and then the rest of the flour.) Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary during this process.

Toss the rhubarb with the remaining flour and gently fold two-thirds of the fruit into the batter. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Place the rest of the rhubarb on top of the batter, lightly pressing it into the batter.

Bake for 30 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and tests done (either with a cake tester or springs back when lightly touched). Remove from oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. (This may or may not feel like the longest 30 minutes ever…) After 30 minutes, flip the cake out of the pan and onto a serving plate.

While the cake is cooling, make the glaze. Whisk the butter, powdered sugar and lemon juice together. If the glaze looks too thin, whisk in extra powdered sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until it’s as thick as you’d like. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake.


From Honey & Jam, originally from Rustic Fruit Desserts

Click here for a printable version.

March Muffins

Is it just me, or does March feel like a long month? We’re well past the excitement of the holidays, and at least in this part of the world, everyone feels “done” with the cold, gray weather. There isn’t a long weekend on the horizon until May, and, worst of all, NOTHING is in season any more. We’re done with pumpkins and squash, and January’s citrus explosion is over. It seems like an eternity until strawberry season starts, and my fruit stash in the freezer is getting dangerously low!

All is not lost, however. I still have some rhubarb squirreled away, so I whipped up a batch of muffins last week to share with some girlfriends on a road trip to Milwaukee. (I thought about making blueberry muffins, but then I discovered I’m almost out of frozen blueberries as well. COME ON SPRING!) These are ideal for making the night before a trip because they come together in just a few minutes. And while they’re best warm, right out of the oven, they’re also pretty tasty the next morning. 

The recipe was originally published in the now-defunct “Cooking for 2” magazine, and while it’s nice to have a muffin recipe that doesn’t feed an army, I end up doubling (or even tripling) it most days, especially when I plan on sharing with someone besides Andy. (My doubled amounts are reflected below.) I also discovered that you can swap the sour cream for Greek yogurt with no ill effects. I add oatmeal to the topping and use whole wheat pastry flour for half of the flour, in an attempt to feel a little better about eating two or three for breakfast. 🙂


Rhubarb Cream Muffins

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
2 cups fresh or frozen rhubarb*
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For topping:
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons oatmeal
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 375. Line muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well.

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, and then add the sour cream. Add the remaining dry ingredients and stir until almost mixed. Gently fold in the rhubarb and walnuts (this should mix in the rest of the dry ingredients).

To make the topping, whisk the sugar, cinnamon and oatmeal together in a bowl. (Save a dish here and reuse the bowl you mixed the dry ingredients in!) Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until the butter is evenly distributed and  is about the size of small pebbles.

Fill the prepared muffin cups about two-thirds of the way full. (I use my large cookie scoop to evenly portion out the batter.) Top with the prepared topping.

Bake until muffins are golden brown and test “done” with a toothpick, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes in the pans. Remove the muffins from the pans and allow to cool.

*To use frozen rhubarb, measure while frozen, then allow rhubarb to thaw completely in a colander. Drain, but don’t press out the extra liquid. 

Adapted from Cooking for 2, Spring 2007

Click here for a printable version.

First Fruits

Rhubarb is one of my favorite things about springtime in Wisconsin. I love its sweet-tart taste (and the fact that it’s a wonderful addition to many desserts, breads and other tasty snacks). Plus, it’s one of the first things that I can pick from our garden.

I haven’t always loved rhubarb though. Maybe it’s because it looks like celery, or maybe it’s just a more grown-up taste. (Mom, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I didn’t eat the rhubarb cake you made when I was a kid. Send me the recipe so I can try it again!) Either way, I’m trying to make up for lost time now. One of the best ways to do that is to freeze the rhubarb to use later on.

I think the only thing easier than freezing rhubarb is freezing blueberries (which I also do, so I can make a bluebarb pie… YUM). It takes very little time and effort. So, go pick some rhubarb, and freeze whatever you can to make pie muffins bread cake whatever your heart desires long after spring has gone.

You’ll need:
Fresh rhubarb stalks, leaves removed
Ziploc (or your favorite off-brand) freezer bags, quart-sized
Measuring cup or food scale
Paring knife
Cutting board

First, wash off any dirt on your rhubarb and trim off the ends.

Then slice the rhubarb into small, uniform chunks. (I’m not so great at the uniform part…)

Measure the chopped rhubarb into the Ziploc bags. (Yes, I realize these aren’t Ziploc bags. I’m not brand-loyal.) 

Seal, label,date and freeze! You’re done! Then you can make things like this:

Rhubarb Squares

and this: