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It has been too long.  What can I say…  After far too long a time, spring has inspired me to get back to this blog.  All the lovely fresh produce has put a spring in my step and I am eager for the summer’s bounty.

As soon as the first spring blossoms appear on the scene I start to ask myself – ‘where is the rhubarb?’ followed by – ‘where is the asparagus?’.  These are pretty much two of my top ten ingredients to cook with.

Needless to say I was thrilled when our two gardening guru friends brought us over a bushel of their first rhubarb crop.  I could barely hold myself back from making a crisp on the spot.

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I think a good crisp might just be my all time favourite dessert.  I love the juicy fruit coupled with the crumbly topping all coming together in one big bowl.  It feels like a warm hug.

Crisps are really easy to make it and there are so many recipes out there I don’t really think I need to give you another one.  I will share my top crisp tips though and my adaptations to Heidi’s recipe on 101 Cookbooks for strawberry rhubarb crumble, which was the final resting place for this luscious spring bounty of mine.

Please share your own fancy tips and tricks to making the perfect crisp!

Tips 

  • I always add baking powder to my crisp or crumble topping.  It makes it puff up nicely into big chunks.
  • After I incorporate the butter into a crisp, I make sure it has a crumbly texture (i.e. large chunks).  I then put this in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before I put it on top of the fruit and in the oven.  This makes sure the crumble stays crumbly.
  • I like to add nuts and oats to my crumble.  It gives it more texture.  I like Heidi’s recipe but I swapped the pine nuts for walnuts, just because that’s what I had.  Crisp are very forgiving.Image
  • Many crisp recipes call for excessive amounts of sugar.  I like the fruit to take center stage.  Heidi’s recipe does that for sure, but I was even scant with her sugar amounts.
  • I also added a zing of fresh lemon zest, which always livens up a crisp.
  • While ice cream is certainly my go-to sidekick for crisp, here I tried ricotta mixed with a little cream and more lemon zest.  It had more refreshing and earthy flavour.

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I am glad to be back!  Happy Spring everyone!

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Here is the second installment of my Mom’s birthday menu.  It was a pretty elaborate dinner and I was quite please we pulled it off considering there were so many first tries for me.  I probably should have shared this recipe first as it was the appetizer, but I couldn’t wait to share the dessert!

Simon and I have wanted to try to do foie gras for some time.  While we were in Germany, we had the good fortune to be able to go to a French restaurant with my supervisor and his wife.  It was certainly a memorable experience and I can remember each dish vividly.  It was there that we were introduced to foie gras.

I must say I hesitated to eat it at first because I’d heard so many horror stories of how the ducks and geese are treated, but peer pressure forced me to succumb and I indulged.  It was spectacular and since then we have wanted to try and do it ourselves.

While I was in Paris for a conference, I purchased two small tins of duck foie gras to bring home for our experiments.  We decided to sear the foie and serve it with a rhubarb compote.

For those of you who are still thinking of the ducks and geese, I urge you to have a look at this article.  While I may just be making myself feel better, I did find it informative and well-written.

If you do decide to give it a try, be sure to take your time making the recipe.  Foie gras is very expensive, so one wouldn’t want to let it go to waste.

Foie Gras & Rhubarb (adapted from: Emril Lagasse)

  • 3/4 1bs. of chopped rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon and a bit of grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 1 finely minced shallot
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tin of foie gras (pre-chilled in the fridge)
  • chopped chives and mixed greens as garnish

In a saucepan combine all ingredients except the foie gras.  Bring to a simmer until the rhubarb is softened.  Take off the heat and let cool a little before pureeing in a blender or with an immersion blender.  Set aside and let it come to room temperature.  Note that you can make this ahead and store in the fridge, but let it come to room temperature before using.

For the foie, take the can out of the fridge and open both ends with a can opener.  Push the log out from the other end onto a cutting board.  Heat some water and prepare your sharp knife.  Heat a fry pan to medium heat (no oil – just dry).  Dip the knife in hot water.  Dry it quickly and slice off a round of foie gras that is a about a pinky finger thick.  Repeat until all slices are done.

Season the slices with salt and pepper. Drop them into the hot pan.  It will sizzle and smoke.  Allow them to brown on one side and then quickly turn them over.  Once they are brown on both sides, pull them off the heat.  On each plate, put  a few tablespoons of rhubarb and top with one or two slices of foie gras.  Garnish with chives and greens.  Serve with bread or toasts.