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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rhubarb season is upon us!

By RhubarbFarmer (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

My friend Donna has started to offer me free rhubarb; it must be rhubarb season. If you have a couple of healthy rhubarb plants, you know this drill. It's the spring version of zucchini. You leave unmarked bags of the stuff on your neighbor's stoop, just to be rid of it. I am amazed that they can even sell it at the local farmer's market. Doesn't everyone have a neighbor or a friend with an overgrown rhubarb patch?

Last year, while driving back from mushroom hunting in the mountains, I spied a huge stand of rhubarb off the road. I was not driving, thankfully! Jane was and she screeched to a stop. "I need rhubarb!" Well, we surely got it. The rhubarb stand had probably been planted a long time ago when Left Hand Canyon was dotted with mining claims and mining cabins. The rhubarb plants were nearly as tall as me. Jane, if you are reading, I hope you will be back in late June so we can go pick you some more!

This recipe came from Nicole Routhier's Fruit Cookbook. The recipe is for a Strawberry-Rhubarb Brulee, but I didn't brule it. :-) I made the fruit part and it is first rate with yogurt, granola, or ice cream. It's not so sweet that is isn't appropriate for breakfast. Unlike some strawberry-rhubarb recipes, the strawberries are not cooked. I don't like cooked strawberries. I find their texture mushy and slimy. This recipe retains some of the bite.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote
(makes 6 - 8 servings)

3 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced 1/4" thick 
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Triple Sec 
1/3 cup sugar, plus 2 tbsp sugar
1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1" sections 

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sliced strawberries, lemon juice, Grand Marnier, and 2 tbl of sugar; mix well. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, combine the rhubarb with the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a medium saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat until the rhubarb is very soft and shredded. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.

3. When rhubarb is cooled, combine with strawberries and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow flavors to meld.

Serve with yogurt, whipped cream or as a topping for shortcake or pound cake. Also good with granola.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Raspberry Yogurt Mousse

I mentioned, on Facebook, a tart I made with a raspberry mousse filling. It generated some interest with my loyal readers so here is the recipe. Compared to your typical mousse, it's leaner and tarter, due to the yogurt, which replaces the cream. Also, if raw egg whites give you the willies, this mousse contains none. Egg whites do make the mousse light - lots of air bubbles in beaten egg white. So, this mousse is denser, more like a pudding, I guess.

Still quite tasty and refreshing. The recipe calls for raspberries, but other berries work will too - blueberries, strawberries, blackberries. In fact, I was a little short on raspberries and used some strawberries instead.

The recipe calls for yogurt without stabilizers or gelatin. You want the whey to separate out to make the yogurt thicker. Yogurt stabilized with gelatin or starches won't separate.

Raspberry Yogurt Mousse
(makes enough filling for a 10" tart or 10 individual servings)

 3 cups fresh raspberries, or 12 oz. frozen raspberries, partially thawed
 1/2 cup cold water
 3 tsp unflavored gelatin
 1/4 cup orange juice, or apple juice
 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
 1/4 cup sugar
 1/4 tsp salt
 2 tbsp Chambord (a French berry liqueur)
 1 1/2 cups nonfat or lowfat vanilla yogurt, made without gelatin or stabilizers

1. Puree berries in a  food processor or blender. Pour puree through a strainer to remove the seeds. Set aside.

2. Pour water into a medium saucepan, sprinkle on the gelatin, and allow to sit for about 3 minutes to soften. Stir in juices, set pan over low heat, and stir just until the gelatin dissolves. Do not boil.

3. Stir in the berry puree, sugar, and salt, increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in Chambord.

4. Transfer raspberry mixture to a heatproof bowl and sit it in a large bowl of ice water. Cool, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until mixture thickens to the consistency of raw egg whites.

5. While the mixture cools, set the yogurt in a strainer over a bowl and allow to drain for about 10 minutes.

6. Whisk the yogurt into the raspberry mixture. The mousse can get used a filling for a 10" pie (use a prebaked crust that has cooled) or pour into 4-6 oz ramekins to serve alone.

Link to PDF of Recipe for Raspberry Mousse

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Oven Preserved Tomatoes

I like tomatoes on my sandwiches. Tomatoes can be rather messy on sandwiches and seriously comprise the integrity of the bread. They squirt out the side and you end up with tomato seeds on your shirt.

Recently, I had a glut of grape tomatoes. I knew they wouldn't keep for very long. I could dry them, but dried tomatoes don't work very well on sandwiches. I also find that their flavor is just too concentrated for tossing in a salad or on a sandwich. This method, which is too simple to be called a recipe, is the best way I've found of preserving smaller tomatoes. Anything from grape on up to Roma size works well. The flavor of the tomato gets concentrated into sweet goodness and they are delicious on sandwiches.

Originally a recipe from Claudia Roden's book on new Middle Eastern cuisine, I have reduced the sugar. Her recipe is a form of tomato jam but I wanted something more savory. The reduction in sugar means that the tomatoes won't keep as well, but I'm sure you'll find a way to use them up. They taste great on sandwiches and you won't end up with tomato seeds on your shirt.

Oven Preserved Tomatoes

Wash 2 lbs. of tomatoes.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Halve grape or Roma tomatoes and place cut side up on a rimmed and oiled baking sheet.

Sprinkle tomatoes lightly with kosher salt, about 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon sugar.

Place in the oven and bake for 3-4 hours. The tomatoes will still be squishy and not thoroughly dried. Store them in the refrigerator.