Rhubarb is one of those ingredients that people either adore or avoid. I fall into the former, and use it as much as possible during its rather short growing season. I’ve made it into crisps, pies and even eaten it raw, dipped in sugar (which is admittedly hard core). Combining the mouth-puckering sour flavor of rhubarb with sweet, creamy, honey ice cream base may just be the perfect marriage. I think this may have the power to turn even the most ardent rhubarb haters, into its biggest fans. (more…)
This is a strawberry-rhubarb crisp I created for my Cooking Channel Weekend Baking post. There is really nothing better than the combo of sweet berries and tart rhubarb. If you are one who has never tasted rhubarb, or tried and decided it is not your thing, I beg you to try it again. Maybe you won’t want to grab a stalk out of the garden and plunge it, raw, into a jar of sugar. That is a more advanced move. The trick is to start gradually, combine it with lots of strawberries and a sweet crunchy crisp. This is not cheating, the rhubarb is still playing an essential role in the flavor of your crisp. It is adding a tart dimension to a potentially overly sweet dessert; like adding lemon zest to balance sweetness, but it is even more interesting. Pretty soon you will have a rhubarb plant growing in your yard and long for the first stalks to poke out from the spring snow and then dread the last days, when the heat of summer has made the plant too tough to eat. That is why I make this plea now, when rhubarb is at its best! (more…)
This spring has been intense, seemingly more so than others, but maybe that is just a matter of forgetfulness. As you may have noticed I’ve not posted in a while. There are many reasons for this, mostly I was overcome with writing our 3rd book, an obnoxious computer virus and tendonitis. Perhaps most of all I was reconnecting with my family after being on the road to promote HBin5. Nothing devastating, but when added up, it felt overwhelming. This is all to say that I miss spending time on Zoebakes. This is my playground, my sanctuary and where I come to recharge my creative juices. While I have been absent I have received emails and comments from some of you and I can’t express how much that meant to me. I put my heart into this website and it is an absolute joy to know you are enjoying the desserts. THANK YOU!
The gift of spring every year in my garden is the rhubarb. I didn’t plant it, I don’t care for it, but every spring it pops up and provides me with such a thrill. As soon as the stalks are thick enough to hold the weight of their leaves I start to pluck them out of the ground. I really should wait, but those first tender stalks are the best of the year and I can’t resist. They usually just get dipped in sugar and eaten as is. Now the rhubarb leaves are enormous and starting to take over, the stalks are heartier, but still tender and ready for baking. Strawberry rhubarb crisp, in fact, with fresh strawberry ice cream. I wish I could say that the strawberries came from my garden as well, but the squirrels did those in a few years ago and I haven’t planted new ones. Maybe this year! The flat of strawberries I bought at the store were excellent, it bodes well for the season. Bright in color, sweet and firm. My husband’s all time favorite ice cream is strawberry and I’ve been trying to make the perfect batch. I think this one is the closest. It has to have intense flavor, but not be icy or grainy from too much fruit. The technique I use for making sorbet, mixed with an ice cream base I adapted from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop turned out to be the key. (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??? 😉