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Archive for June 9, 2017

RECIPE: Strawberry-Rhubarb Bars With Cream Cheese Frosting

Strawberry Rhubarb Bars
Strawberry rhubarb bars, ready for dessert or a cup of tea (photo courtesy Adore Foods).

Strawberries &  Rhubarb

Strawberry and rhubarb, spring produce for a spring food holiday (photo courtesy Dessert First Girl).

 

June 10th is National Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Day.

This year, instead of a strawberry rhubarb pie, how about bar cookies?

Food Trivia: Bars, from brownies and lemon and oatmeal bars to Rice Krispie Treats, are cookies, not cake. The dividing line is finger food vs. something that must be eaten with a fork.

RECIPE: STRAWBERRY-RHUBARB BARS

There’s also National Rhubarb Pie Day, on January 23rd. While fresh rhubarb is available only in the spring months, frozen rhubarb can be found year-round (the history of rhubarb is below); here’s the history of strawberries).

As to why people persist in creating holidays of foods that are out-of-season, we have no idea.

For this recipe, prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 45 minutes. The recipe is from Adore Foods, adapted from Southern Living.

Ingredient For 20 Bars

For The Crust

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ stick butter, melted, plus more to grease the pan
  • 1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds, coarsely chopped
  •  
    For The Strawberry-Rhubarb Filling

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 3 rhubarb sticks, cut into ½-inch-thick slices
  • 15 fresh strawberries, cut into ½-inch-thick pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  
    For The Cream Cheese Batter

  • 1 package cream cheese (8 ounces), room temperature
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Optional garnish: powdered sugar* or a strawberry slice
  •  
    *Frankly, we can’t understand why people garnish baked goods with powdered sugar. It just flies off and lands on one’s clothing. Centuries ago, it might have been a decorative element before icing, or a garnish for an un-iced cake like a bundt. But today we have better garnishes: year-round strawberries, mascarpone, whipped cream, etc. In this recipe, the cream cheese topping is enough. Need a garnish? Add a slice of strawberry.
     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the crust. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and almonds. Add the melted butter and stir into a crumbly mixture. Press it onto the bottom of a greased pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool until ready to use (keep the oven on).

    2. PREPARE the pie filling. Stir together the sugar, cornstarch and chopped rhubarb and strawberry pieces in a medium saucepan. Let it stand 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly until the filling starts to thicken. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

    3. MAKE the cream cheese batter. Beat the cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the egg and beat just until blended. Add the lemon zest and juice, beating well.

    4. ASSEMBLE: Spread a thick layer of strawberry-rhubarb filling over the cooled crust. Gently spread the cream cheese batter over the filling. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack for an hour. Refrigerate, uncovered, for about 4 hours or overnight. Remove from the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving and cut into bars while still cold. Garnish as desired.
     
    RHUBARB HISTORY

    Rhubarb is an ancient plant, cultivated in China since 2700 B.C.E. for medicinal purposes (it was a highly-valued laxative; other species don’t have the same properties).

    Much later (at the end of the 12th century), Marco Polo wrote about it at length in the accounts of his travels in China, suggesting that the plant had not yet made it to southern Europe.

    Different strains of rhubarb grew wild elsewhere, including in Russia. Its genus name, Rheum, is said to be derived from Rha, the ancient name of the Volga River, on whose banks the plants grew.

    Record show that rhubarb was cultivated in Italy in 1608, 20 to 30 years later in northern Europe.

    A 1778 record refers to rhubarb as a food plant. The earliest known usage of rhubarb as a food appeared as a filling for tarts and pies.

    The earliest records of rhubarb in America concern a gardener in Maine, who obtained seed or root stock from Europe sometime between 1790 and 1800. He introduced it to growers in Massachusetts where its popularity spread…and today we celebrate it on National Rhubarb Pie Day and National Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Day. [source]

    Here’s more about rhubarb, including why rhubarb is a vegetable and not a fruit.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Go Beyond Your Brunch Comfort Zone

    Restaurant menus mostly offer brunch favorites: a bagel platter, corned beef hash, Eggs Benedict, eggs and omelets with your choice of bacon-ham-sausage, French toast, pancakes and waffles, steak and eggs (and if it’s a trendy place, avocado toast).

    At home, you can get more creative, from chilaquiles (here’s a gourmet version) and shakshouka to riffs on the standards, like peanut butter and jelly waffle sandwiches and an omelet roll.

    For home cooks, we’re devoting this weekend to getting out of the brunch comfort zone. Today we present two recipes, guaranteed to be appreciated.

    RECIPE: CHORIZO & EGG BREAKFAST BOWL

    This attractive bowl is loaded with a poached egg, fresh avocado, crispy hash brown potatoes, chorizo sausage, arugula salad and chipotle cream. The recipe is from Idaho Potato, which has many creative recipes for potatoes at every meal.

    You can buy chorizo crumbled, or in the casing (to crumble your own). You can also find turkey chorizo.

    If you don’t like things spicy, trade the chorizo for a sausage you prefer, omit the jalapeño and trade the adobo sauce for flavored olive oil or whatever else sounds good to you.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 russet Idaho potatoes, diced into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 red pepper, diced
  • 1/4 green pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon jalapeño, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 ounces chorizo, casings removed
  • 3 cups arugula
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
  • Fresh cilantro and sliced avocado, for garnish
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • Avocado and minced cilantro for garnish
  •  
    For the Chipotle Cream

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise or sour cream
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons adobo sauce (from the canned chipotle peppers)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the diced potatoes in a pot of cold salted water. Bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes and immediately strain. Set the potatoes on paper towels and carefully pat dry.

    2. HEAT the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the par-boiled potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring as needed.

       

    Poached Egg Chorizon Breakfast Bowl
    [1] The finished breakfast bowl (photo courtesy Idaho Potato).

    Chorizo Sausage
    Chorizo with no casing (photos 2 and 3 courtesy Good Eggs).

    Chorizo No Casing

    [3]Crumbled chorizo.

     
    3. ADD the onion, red and green pepper and jalapeño. Cook for another 15-20 minutes, stirring as needed, until the potatoes are golden and crispy. You may need to lower the heat to medium, so keep an eye on things. Then add the minced garlic and cook for one minute longer; remove from the heat.

    4. COOK the chorizo in skillet over medium-high heat, breaking into bite-sized crumbles, until cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon and rest them on a paper towel-lined plate.

    5. WHISK the mayonnaise or sour cream with the minced chipotle pepper and the desired amount of adobo sauce for your heat preference.

    6. TOSS the cooked hash in a clean bowl with the chipotle cream, to coat lightly. Fold in the arugula and cherry tomatoes.

    7. PREP the bowls with the hash and salad mix, dividing equally into each bowl. Add the chorizo on top.

    8. POACH the eggs by bringing a saucepan of water to a gentle boil; add the white wine vinegar. Crack each egg into a small bowl. Gently drop each egg into the water and cook for 3 minutes. Carefully remove with a slotted spoon, gingerly shaking off any excess water. Place a poached egg on top of each bowl and garnish with sliced avocado and freshly minced cilantro. Serve immediately.
     
     
    WHAT IS CHORIZO

    Chorizo is a highly-seasoned, spicy sausage. Its red color comes from spices such as paprika and chipotle.

    There are many varieties of chorizo. You’ll find them in different colors, shapes and with different seasonings.

  • Spanish chorizo is made from coarsely chopped pork and pork fat, seasoned with smoked paprika and salt. It is generally classed as either spicy or sweet, depending upon the type of smoked paprika used.
  • There are hundreds of regional varieties of Spanish chorizo, both smoked and unsmoked. They may contain garlic, herbs and other ingredients.
  • Mexican chorizo is based on the recipe for uncooked Spanish chorizo, but the meat is ground rather than chopped; and different seasonings are used.
  • Mexican-style chorizo is a deep reddish color and largely available in two varieties, fresh and dried (although fresh is more common). It is so popular that beef, venison, kosher and vegan versions can be found in the U.S.
  • Green chorizo is a style native to Toluca, Mexico, southwest of Mexico City. The color comes from green vegetables and herbs mixed into the meat: tomatillo, cilantro and chiles, plus garlic.
  • Portuguese chorizo is made with pork fat, wine, paprika and salt. It is stuffed into natural or artificial casings, and slowly dried over smoke.
  •  
    Chorizo fans should gather the different types of chorizo and invite guests for a sausage board, with cheese, beer, bread and mustard.

     

    Mushroom Pancakes
    [4] Have a stack of pancakes, or just one (photo courtesy Gordon Ramsay Group).

    Baby Bella Mushrooms

    [5] Baby Bella is a marketing name for crimini mushrooms. Criminis and younger portabellas. When the crimini is allowed to grow large and ripen after being picked, the gills are exposed and dark.

     

    SAVORY MUSHROOM PANCAKE & EGG STACK

    We’ve published a template for making savory pancakes, and here’s an addition to the collection.

    Pancakes, no sugar added (or in a box mix), are topped with a flavorful mushroom and herb blend, and a fried egg. If you like, you can have a creamy mushroom topping with a bit of marsala

    Ingredients

    For The Pancakes

    This recipe makes six four-inch pancakes, or a three-pancake stack for two people. Of use your favorite from-scratch recipe, omitting the sugar.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk*
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons oil or melted butter
  • Large pinch salt
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes or other savory spice
  •  
    For The Mushroom Filling, Per Two Pancakes

    Don’t worry if you make too much filling. You’ll like it so much, that you’ll use it up on everything else you cook.

  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 12 ounces baby bella or button mushrooms, wiped and patted dry, sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon lemon zest or 1 tablespoon marsala or sherry, or 1 teaspoon or brandy
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or green onions (more as desired)
  • 2-3 tablespoons cream or half and half
  • ______________
    *When a recipe calls for buttermilk and you don’t have any , just add a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar to a cup of milk. Let it sit for 5 minutes, until the milk begins to curdle.
    ______________

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the mushroom sauce. Heat olive oil or butter in a large skillet over medium heat until hot, but not smoking. Add the mushrooms, garlic and onions, and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly. Sprinkle the mushrooms with a bit of salt, cover with the lid and continue cooking the mushrooms for another 5-7 minutes, occasionally stirring.

    3. REMOVE the lid after the mushrooms have released their moisture and sauté for another 5 minutes or so minutes. If you’re using the cream of lemon zest, add it now. Stir the cream into the mushroom liquid. Total cooking time from the beginning to end should be 15 to 20 minutes.

    2. SEASON with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with chopped chives or scallions. Keep warm and set aside.

    3. MAKE the pancakes Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a large bowl. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, lightly whisk together the milk, egg and oil or butter.

    4. POUR the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. The batter will be lumpy, so don’t over-mix (it toughens the pancakes). Let the batter sit while heating up a griddle or skillet over medium heat.

    5. COOK the eggs and keep warm as you make the pancakes.

    6. GREASE the griddle or skillet and pour about 1/4 cup batter per pancake. Once bubbles are formed on top and along the edges, flip the once and finish cooking the other side.

    7. ASSEMBLE: Stack the pancakes with mushroom filling in-between and top with the egg. Spoon extra mushroom liquid on the plate, as shown in the photo.
     
     
    MORE BRUNCH RECIPES

  • Congee, China’s favorite breakfast
  • Caviar Eggs (with affordable caviar)
  • Eggs In A Nest (of hash browns)
  • Bone Broth Breakfast Soup
  • Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
  • Pho, Vietnam’s favorite breakfast
  • Smashed Pea Toast
  •   

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