Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

Rhubarb season is something I anxiously await every year.  To say that it is a unique plant is an understatement, and I'm amazed at the number of people who have never eaten, or even seen it!   Nearly every Midwestern country garden has some, and it lives for literally generations.  This is one of my favorite rhubarb recipes!  It doesn't take long to whip up, either, so there are no excuses for not trying it.  Top it with a puff of whipped cream, or drizzle a little heavy cream over the top if you don't want to bother with whipping it.  Yum!  (See this video for more about rhubarb!)

3 ounces (6 T.) butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

3 cups rhubarb, ends removed, sliced on the bias into 1/2-inch slices

1/2 cup soft butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 3/4 cups cake flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cups milk

Preheat the oven to 375-degrees

Place a 10 1/2-inch cast iron skillet on a burner over low heat.  Melt the 3-ounces of butter.  Using a pastry brush, dip the melted butter and coat the sides of the pan.  Sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter, then stir until the sugar is moistened with butter.  Lay the rhubarb over the butter-sugar mixture in a single layer, laying them flat, it will be a tight fit, you may have to overlap a few of the pieces.  Keep the skillet over the lowest heat possible while making the cake batter.

Place the remaining 1/2 cup butter in the bowl of a mixer.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Add the sugar and beat until fluffy.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until very smooth.

Place a sieve over a bowl and add the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Sift into the bowl, then whisk until well combined.

Add all of the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, and half of the milk.  Mix briefly, then stream in the remaining milk.  Beat for about one more minute, until very smooth and well-combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure all is well-incorporated.

Remove the skillet from the burner, then scoop the batter over the top of the rhubarb mixture.  Smooth with an offset spatula. 

Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the top springs back when pressed lightly.  Remove from the oven and run a small knife around the edge of the skillet, then let stand for 3 minutes.

Place a large serving plate over the top of the skillet and flip the whole thing over.  Leave the skillet on the plate for about 2 minutes, until all the rhubarb separates from the skillet.  Remove the skillet.

Serve warm with whipped cream, ice cream, or a drizzle of heavy cream.

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Homemade Greek Pizza

   Homemade Greek Pizza

Homemade Greek Pizza

Who doesn't love pizza?  Like sandwiches, pizza can be a canvas for a zillion flavor combination. So, while surveying my haul after a trip to the farmers market along with the herbs in my garden patch, I decided to try a Greek version.  All of the classic Greek flavors are evident here; fresh oregano, Greek yogurt, red onion, Mediterranean olives, diced tomatoes, Feta cheese, garlic scapes (or cloves), baby kale (not Greek but definitely a good addition), olive oil, and a bit of Parmesan to finish.  The first crispy bite leads to in-your-face flavor, which leads to many more bites!  Having frozen pizza dough in the freezer at all times makes satisfying pizza cravings a snap, just saying!

1/2 or 1 full batch of Favorite Pizza Dough, depending on the thickness of the pizza crust you prefer

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup chopped garlic scapes (green shoots that carry the blossoms), or 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced

2 cup thinly-sliced red onion

2 cups julienne baby kale, tough stems removed (spinach can be substituted)

1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)

1 Tablespoon finely-minced fresh oregano

Pinch of salt

1 cup diced, seeded ripe tomatoes

1/3 cup thinly-sliced Kalamata or Mediterranean olives

4 ounces Feta cheese, diced

2 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 500-degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic scapes and cook until they begin to soften.  Add the red onion and kale, and add the chopped garlic if using.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion and kale are soft.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Combine the yogurt or sour cream, oregano, and pinch of salt until evenly combined.

Shape the pizza dough into the desired shape, according to the crust recipe.  Spread the yogurt mixture over the crust.  Top with the sauteed vegetables.  Add the tomatoes, olives, Feat and top with the Parmesan.

Bake for 15 minutes, check, then continue until the pizza is browned all over.

Remove from the oven, let rest for about 5 minutes before cutting.  Enjoy!!

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Asian Sticky Chicken

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Yummy Asian Sticky Chicken!

This simple recipe is so yummy, and you'll be able to skip the Chinese carry-out once you try this!  Just whisk together a few ingredients for the glaze and simmer while you brown the chicken.  The chicken goes into a baking dish and gets covered with the sauce.  About 30 minutes in the oven and you've got a fabulous dinner.  I also sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds sometimes, but the green onions are a must.  Jasmine rice on the side (or  Herbed Coconut Rice), and a few stir-fried veggies make an awesome feast!

8 chicken thighs (use boneless, skinless, if you prefer)

1/2 cup flour

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup orange juice

6 Tablespoons honey

6 Tablespoons hoisin sauce

4 teaspoons rice wine vinegar

2 finely minced cloves of garlic

4 teaspoons finely minced ginger

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

4 green onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal

Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.

Sprinkle the chicken on both sides liberally with salt, then dredge in the flour to coat on all sides.  Set aside.

In a small saucepan whisk together the orange juice, honey, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and cornstarch.  Cook over medium heat until it bubbles and thickens (while browning the chicken), then remove from heat and set aside until ready to pour over the chicken.

In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it starts to smoke a bit.  Add chicken thighs, but do not crowd.  (It may be necessary to brown the thighs in 2 batches.)  Sear on both sides until golden brown, then place in a baking dish that as been sprayed with non-stick spray.  Pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with the sesame seeds, if using. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer registers 170-degrees.

Sprinkle with the green onions and serve.

 
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Crab & Avocado Sushi

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Crab & Avocado Sushi

I love sushi!  Rolls, sashimi, maki, nigiri, just about any kind.  And while we decided long ago that it was the one dish we would always eat out, I couldn't resist giving it a try at home. While I don't have all of the traditional tools (a bamboo mat), I improvised and the results were outstanding!  This is a very basic recipe; after trying it you may very well decide that you want to do more exploring. This is much simpler than the lengthy recipe implies, so don't hesitate to give it a try!

Rice Ingredients:

1 cup sushi (short-grained) rice, rinsed in a colander until the water runs clear

2 Tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon Sake or Dry Sherry

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups water

Filling:

1/2 large avocado

Lime juice for drizzling the avocado, about 1 tablespoon

3 pieces of Nori (available in the Asian section of the market), about 8 X 7-inches each

1/2 English cucumber cut lengthwise into 8 X 1/4-inch strips, seeds trimmed off

1/4 pound cooked crab meat, picked over, best quality

Hot Wasabi Paste (available in the Asian section of the market)

Soy sauce, for accompaniment

Pickled Ginger, for accompaniment, if desired

Make the rice:

In a large heavy saucepan combine the rice with 1 1/4 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer cover tightly with a lid, and cook for 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.  Remove from the heat and let stand, covered tightly for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a baking sheet, spreading it out in an even layer.  Keep it warm and covered.

While the rice cooks, combine the vinegar sugar, sake or sherry, and the salt and simmer until the sugar is dissolved, the let it cool.

Sprinkle as much of the vinegar mixture as necessary to moisten it lightly tossing it carefully, then cover it wiht a dampened towel. (The rice may sit at room temperature for up to 3 hours before shaping the sushi rolls.  Do not chill it!)

Peel and pit the avocado, cut it into 1/4-inch (fine) strips and sprinkle with a little lime juice.

Heat the nori in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10 minutes until it softens a bit, and keep warm.

Shape the rolls:

Working with one sheet of nori at a time, place it on a bamboo mat or Silpat and with the long side facing you, spread about 3/4 cup of the rice in an even layer on each sheet, leaving a 1/2-inch border on the long sides.  Arrange 1/3 of the avocado strips horizontally across the middle of the rice and arrance some of the cucumber strips and crab meat on top of the avocado.  Dab the crab with a bit of the wasabi paste.  Beginin with a long side roll p the nori tightly, using the bamboo mat or Silpat to roll it and firm it.

Using a very sharp knife, cut the roll into 3/4-inch thick slices.  Serve with the soy sauce, wasabi paste, and pickled ginger on the side.

Makes 30 pieces

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