Viewing entries in


rhubarb curd

It's a rhubarb party and everybody's invited!  We got our first fruit share from Grant Farms CSA this season and it's, you guessed it, a whole buncha rhubarb (not fruit, I know, but the closest thing we can get this time of year!).  As soon as I brought my armful of pink and green stalks home, I started perusing the interwebs for recipes.  Not rhubarb and strawberry recipes, but rhubarb recipes.  Now, I'm definitely not hating on the combo, but I just really wanted to find something that allowed the flavor of rhubarb to shine, not just to be a tangy counterpart to a sweet strawberry.

Enter, rhubarb curd.  The recipe is from Food52 and after making it once I'm already in love with it!  This sweet and sour concoction is both delicious and beautiful with it's pale pink hue and silky, spreadable texture.  I paired mine with this Plum & Strawberry Sour Cream Cake for a supremely summery dessert.  The next morning I spread some of the curd on a toasted baguette for breakfast.  I'm pretty sure it would be ridiculous on a good buttermilk scone.  The possibilities are many!

In order to get the pudding-like texture of curd, the recipe calls for pushing your cooked mixture through a fine mesh sieve.  This process admittedly takes a lot of work.  Like, a lot.  But will yield a more elegant final result with a smooth consistency.  Give it a try!

Rhubarb Curd

fills a 16 oz jar to the brim

3/4 pounds rhubarb (6-8 stalks)

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup plus a scant 1/2 cup sugar

4 egg yolks

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 T lemon juice

6 T butter, diced

Wash rhubarb well and trim the ends.  Cut into 1-inch chunks.  In a small saucepan, heat rhubarb, 1/4 cup sugar and water on medium.  Cook, stirring often, until rhubarb falls apart and all the pieces have dissolved, lowering heat to low when the mixture becomes thicker.  Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture well until it's pulpy but smooth.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Add a couple inches of water to the pot of a double boiler and set over medium heat.  Add the egg yolks, butter, remaining sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice and cook over the double boiler, whisking constantly until butter is melted and sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes.  Add the rhubarb puree by the spoonful, whisking constantly, and cook mixture until it thickens and is warm to the touch, about 5 minutes more.  Remove from heat.  Using a flat-ended wooden spoon, push the curd through a fine-mesh strainer to refine the texture.  Pour curd into a 16 oz jar and refrigerate until ready to use.



Zucchini and Pine Nut Olive Oil Cake

Most of us are familiar with zucchini bread, but when it comes to using zucchini in sweet stuff, many people stop there.  Here is something a bit more elegant than zucchini bread but it is so quick and easy to put together that you don't even need to bust out your fancy Kitchenaid standing mixer.  A bowl and a wooden spoon are all you need to make this moist and delicious summer cake that is just as good for a slightly decadent breakfast as it is for a light, Summery and flavorful dessert.

Zucchini and Pine Nut Olive Oil Cake
serves 6

1/2 cup mild olive oil
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
zest of 1 lemon (about 1 T)
1 medium zucchini, grated (1 cup packed)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cake flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup pine nuts

Heat the oven to 350 and grease an 8" skillet or cake pan with a little extra olive oil.  In a medium bowl, mix oil, sugar, egg, vanilla and lemon zest until smooth.  Add zucchini and mix well.  Sift dry ingredients and add to cake batter.  Mix well to combine.  Stir in the pine nuts and pour batter into skillet or pan.  Bake until cake is set, about 40-45  minutes.  Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.  Serve warm or at room temperature. 



Apricot-Almond Flaugnarde with Brown-Butter Apricot Glaze

Growing up in the central valley of California, almost everybody we knew had a fruit-bearing tree at their house.  My parents grew pomegranates, plums and citrus (not to mention a garden lush with tomatoes, garlic, squash and a lot more) but I always looked forward to the days when we'd swap something out for a big bag of apricots.  Those sweet little gems were and still are among my favorite things to eat with their peach-like sweetness, soft texture and fuzzy skin.

We've been getting apricots by the bagful from our CSA and they are delectably ripe and sweet.  I save the firmer ones for eating by themselves.  The softer ones are better for cooking - anything from jams and chutneys to meat marinades or desserts.  Apricot adds a bright, summer sweetness to a huge diversity of recipes.

Lately I have been experimenting with different ways to make Flaugnarde.  Some of you may be more familiar with the dessert called Clafoutis, which is traditionally made with cherries (if you really want to make it authentic, un-pitted cherries).  The same method applied to any other fruit is Flaugnarde and if you are a fan of fruit-forward and only slightly sweet desserts, this recipe is definitely for you.  The egg batter puffs up like a souffle as it bakes and then sinks down again as it cools to create a firm, almost custard-like texture.  By itself, it's lightly sweet and eggy with lots of crunchy almond.  With the rich and fruity glaze it becomes a rather elegant dessert.  Have the leftovers without the glaze for breakfast the next morning, as this dish will only keep for a day or so.  But let's face it, we probably would have finished the leftovers in one day, anyway! 

Apricot-Almond Flaugnarde with Brown Butter Apricot Glaze
serves 6

3/4 cup slivered almonds
1 T butter
2 1/2 cups ripe apricots, sliced into small wedges
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 tsp almond extract

3 T salted butter
1 cup ripe apricot halves
agave or honey, to taste

Heat the oven to 375.  Arrange almonds on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast in the oven until lightly golden, about 6-8 minutes.  Keep the oven on and set almonds aside.

Butter a 9" pie pan or square baking dish and arrange apricot slices on the bottom of the dish.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and sugar with a whisk.  Beat in the eggs, then gradually add the half and half and almond extract, whisking until smooth.

Pour the batter over the apricots and sprinkle the almonds over the top.  Bake in the 375-degree oven for about 45 minutes.  Allow to cool at least 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze.  Add the butter to a small pan over medium-high heat.  Cook the butter, stirring often, until foam subsides and the butter solids get toasted and brown, about 8-10 minutes.  Add apricots and cook, mashing the fruit with a wooden spoon, until they gently caramelize on the outside, about 5 minutes.  Add a splash of agave or honey and puree mixture with an immersion blender (if your apricots aren't super-ripe you may need to add a little water to thin the glaze).  Taste and add more sweetener if necessary.  If you like it on the less-sweet side it will amount to about 3 T of sweetener.



Apple-Pear and Pinenut Crisp

Those who know me well know that I'm a real sucker for dessert.  In fact, the first thing I ever remember cooking was, as my Dad called it when I was little (and sometimes still does) peach "crips," otherwise known as crisp.  What I love about fruit crisps is that they are simple, sweet, and they really allow seasonal fruit to take center stage.

This crisp is as easy to make as any ol' crisp, but it has some unusual ingredients to give this very traditional dessert a unique twist.  I used almond flour, pine nuts and almond extract to give the topping a wonderful marzipan-like flavor, with the wintry spices of apple cider to enhance the Fall fruits.  The ratio of pears to apples is just what I happened to have in the fridge at the time - you can do half and half or even make an all-apple or all-pear crisp if you like.  I used Jonathan apples because their tart flavor pairs nicely with the rich sweetness of the pears and honey.  You can use any variety of apple you like and there's no need to peel the fruit - the skin gives the dessert a lovely color. 

Apple-Pear and Pinenut Crisp
6 small or 4 large servings

1 cup sliced Barlett pears (about 1 medium pear)
5 cups sliced Jonathan apples (about 3-4 medium apples)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 T honey
1 tsp cornstarch
2/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
5 T butter, cold and cut into squares
1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a 9-inch square pan, combine sliced fruit, lemon juice, honey and cornstarch and toss well to combine. 

Add remaining ingredients to a food processor and pulse until mixture is coarse and crumbly.  Spread topping evenly across the apples and pat down.  Bake until golden brown on top, about 35 to 40 minutes.  Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving.