This is a very tossed-together Black Forest Cake, or, as I like to say, when I am too lazy to bring out the piping bag and tips, it’s RUSTIC. All of the components of the classic German torte without the fuss. Layers of dark chocolate cake, fresh whipped cream and sweet cherries spiked with Kirschwasser (“cherry water,” or clear sour cherry brandy). These flavors are among the most celebrated combinations in the history of pastry making and yet this cake is often cloyingly sweet, overly fussy and conjures images from my 1070s childhood. Honestly, the version I remember was probably made with Cool Whip, Maraschino cherries and a cake from a box. Don’t get me wrong, that was just fine with me when I was 13. But, now my taste buds always cringe a bit at the thought of those Day-Glo-red cherries, a frozen whipped topping, that tastes like anything but cream, and the cake from a box just can’t compete with my Devil’s food recipe. The swoon worthy homemade version is super fast and easy to put together. (more…)
It is officially spring when I walk outside my door and there are stalks of rhubarb standing tall in my garden. To date rhubarb and strawberries are the only edible things I’ve managed to grow. Every year the rabbits and squirrels wait until the strawberries are perfectly formed and just about to turn red, then they systematically eat them all. So, in the end all I am left with is my huge patch of rhubarb. It may be why I love it so much, because I feel a sense of accomplishment.
This year will be different. I have signed up for the Backyard Harvest Project. They assigned me a master “urban” farmer, Stefan, and we will work the land together. My city farm is tiny, no more than 10×14′ of organic growing space. This is apparently enough room to grow about 30 varieties of vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. So far we’ve prepped the land, shoveled loads of beautiful black organic dirt, planted leeks, cauliflower, spinach, peas and radishes. The beauty of this program is that Stefan is here to make sure that in the end I have a bounty of produce. In other words he makes sure I won’t kill it. He even installed a fence today to keep out the rabbits. Hmmm, perhaps I’ll get strawberries this year after all. *
The spring “fool” came to me on Twitter. @francis_lam, who is a writer for Gourmet magazine posted that he had some fresh heavy whipping cream and asked what he should do with it. I thought, rhubarb Fool! It is a classic British dessert made of cooked, sweetened fruit that is folded into whipped cream. There is nothing as simple, and yet just a touch decadent. I wonder where the name comes from??? 😉