Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rhubarb Cobbler

As promised, I am adding the pics from the rhubarb cobbler that I made for dessert this Easter.
At the tender age of 10 I asked my grandmother to show me how to make rhubarb since I was the only other one in the family besides her that like it. So it is the recipe written in my 10 year old hand from my grandmothers kitchen that I share with you for the fruit part of this recipe. I then refer to the tried and true Betty Crocker recipe for the cobbler topping, which in essence is more like a sweet biscuit than anything else. I a have also used an oatmeal pie topper, which I think I prefer.

Rhubarb Cobbler

4 c. chopped Rhubarb (washed and stalks only)
1 c. sugar
2-3 tbs. cornstarch

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a pot then place over medium heat and cook until boiling or the fruit mix has thickened. You may want to add a bit of water to the bottom of the pan initially to keep the mix from sticking. Once the fruit mix has thickened remove it from the heat. You do not want to over cook the rhubarb because it will just break down and you will end up with more of a fruit spread than chunks of fruit in a sweet sauce. At this time you can place the fruit mix in an oven proof glass dish or baking dish. I used a 1 quart round baking dish.
*A pie pan is probably not deep enough, also I do not usually make pie with this because the crust doesn't cook properly and ends up soggy.

Then place the topping over the hot fruit and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

Biscuit Topping

4 tbs. shortening
1 tbs. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. milk

Mix dry ingredients together in a small bowl. Cut in the shortening (neat trick courtesy of my cousin Nancy: use your finger tips to "cut" the shortening into the flour by pinching the flour and shortening together. This will be much quicker than using a fork or pastry cutter!)
Add the milk and minx until just combined. Place dollops onto hot fruit mix then bake for time specified above.

(This cobbler recipe will work with peaches, pears, strawberries, blueberries or any combo of those, it is a very flexible recipe!)

Monday, April 25, 2011

#Sing It - MCR

I have always been a fan of My Chemical Romance and even more so now with they work they are doing to raise money for the Red Cross with their song #Sing It. Check out the site where you can donate or purchase the song on iTunes with all proceeds going to the American Red Cross. While it is weeks after the tragedy in Japan, they are still in need of support, so better late than never.

#SING It for Japan

Here is the video that they put together, such sad but beautiful images.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Time for a Break

Finally Easter break has come! Though rainy, it has been a productive break so far, meaning that I have done everything around the house except work on my paper for class. I finally had a chance to get out and work in my garden since it was not raining for a day. I planted Hostas, Dahlias, Fresias, and Tulips. I even climbed up in the Japanese maple and trimmed up the branches some. It was nice to finally be out in warm weather.

It is nice this year to not have to make an Easter dinner, but I am in charge of dessert. So I will be making vanilla cupcakes with lemon cream cheese icing for lunch and a rhubarb cobbler for dinner.

Rhubarb is probably one of my favorite spring foods. The part you eat is the stalk, which reminds me somewhat of asparagus and celery. The red stalk is tender and very bitter, but when sugar is added and then cooked, it creates a tart treat. If you like lemon bars or lemon meringue pie, then you will probably like rhubarb.

I will be consulting my inherited copy of Betty Crocker's cook book circa 1980 (with my mom's notes) for the cobbler recipe and will post pictures upon completion.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ginger Orange French Toast

French toast takes me back to being a little kid. That was my mom's breakfast specialty. Dad did the pancakes, but mom made French Toast. It was always a great treat smothered with butter and cinnamon sugar.

I had some stale-ish bread in the fridge that needed to go and so French toast was on the menu for breakfast Saturday morning. I wanted to punch up the flavor a bit, since while regular milk and eggs work great, I wanted a bit more depth to my stale bread. I ended up adding some orange juice, vanilla and ginger to my egg and cream (yes, I used cream, it was handy since there was no milk and was delicious!). What I ended up with was a subtle orange ginger flavor that was great alone or with syrup.

Ginger Orange French Toast

(Measurements are approximate, add more or less to taste)

1 c. cream or milk or half-n-half
1-2 eggs
1/4 c. orange juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. ground ginger

9 slices of French bread (the more dry and stale the better)

Beat ingredients in a shallow bowl with a fork. Heat pan on medium and add a bit of olive oil to the bottom. Dip bread on both sides the place in the pan. Flip when underside is lightly browned. *Do not let the bread soak, as it will not cook all the way through or be very soggy and difficult to flip.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Beautiful Spring Images

I saw this and had to share. lemmemakeit is a fab blog by a Martha Stewart employee. Her images of the tulips in Holland are beautiful. I cannot fathom the size of the fields and how lucky one could be to stand in the middle of them!

French Inspiration

It was the book Lunch In Paris: A Romance with Recipes that did me in! I do not mean that in a negative way at all, however it was the starting point for my newly minted obsession with French cuisine and food culture.

Americans have no food culture, hence the negative relationship we have with food. It becomes something merely to provide sustenance, to be eaten quickly and without pleasure. That alone makes me sad. Luckily, I grew up in a house the appreciated food and spent time in preparation, eating and enjoyment of it. But I digress since that entire concept could be a blog in and of itself.

My point is that unlike the French or Italians or many other European cultures, Americans to not have a relationship with their food. So upon reading Lunch In Paris I have decided to give my relationship with food an overhaul. Compared to many it is not that drastic a change. I already only use sugar, butter and olive oil. I eat very little packaged food and enjoy the preparation of a good meal. What does get changed is portion size, sitting down to eat, and shopping more frequently for seasonal and fresh items.

In my obsession to adopt French food culture, I have checked out the blogging world and here is my inspiration for this week: La Tartine Gourmande. The images are so beautiful you would eat the pictures and the recipes so simple and delicious that you can not help but want to try it. So Saturday morning I tried the following variation of a recipe from La tartine Gourmande.

Baked Egg with Asparagus, Pancetta and Creme Fraiche

Use 4 small ramekins. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

3 eggs
1 tbs. Creme Fraiche and a bit more (I found it already made at Shoprite, w/ the sour cream)
4 stalks asparagus (cut up and briefly pan fried w/ olive oil, but still crispy)
1 whole wheat sandwich roll
2 slices of pancetta

Slice roll in half (like for a sandwich) then in smaller pieces so that it fits into the bottom of the ramekin. It should not fill the entire space, just cover the bottom like a crust.
Mix 3 eggs with 1 tbs. Creme Fraiche.
Divide egg mix between the 4 cups. Place asparagus on top, add a dab or two of creme fraiche and place pancetta slice on top.

Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, basically long enough so that the egg is baked through. These little cups of spring are great warm or cold and the perfect breakfast treat.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

And on Sunday we bake!

Pumpkin (Butternut Squash) Bread with Cranberries

When life or your mom hands you Butternut squash... ?

Inspiration struck in the form of my father who made a "pumpkin" pie with summer squash! My mom gave me some squash from the fall that needed to be used because as the temps warm they just don't keep as well in the basement. I am not particularly fond of sweet squash, but realized courtesy of my father that it could be used to replace pumpkin in recipes. So I decided to make pumpkin bread using said squash.

I peeled it and cut it into chunks, then boiled it until it was very soft. Then once drained, used a whisk to mix/mash it all up. It had been boiled long enough that no food processor or blender was necessary! I then used a basic pumpkin bread recipe and replaced the pumpkin puree with the homemade version that I created. I also added some cranberries for additional flavor and sprinkled one of the loaves with chopped pecans. The two loaves are in the oven as we speak and looking beautiful. I will add pics when they are finished.

Yum! Very moist and good flavor!