May 2010


I’ve noticed that you don’t really have a cooking blog until you’ve written about a strawberry rhubarb crumble you’ve made.  No seriously.  They are apparently all the rage and I somehow made it 27 years without ever trying a strawberry-rhubarb anything.  Done gasping?  Let’s get on with it then.

I got invited to a lab barbecue this Memorial Day weekend and, realizing that this might be my last chance to combine the supposedly magnificent forces of strawberries and rhubarb this season, I decided to make smittenkitchen’s strawberry rhubarb crumble recipe.  This recipe is super simple and the only ingredient I had to buy to make it was the rhubarb!  I love it when I go to the grocery store and spend less than $10!  Believe me, it doesn’t happen often.

From start to finish this took me about an hour and 15 minutes to make.  Not bad, given that 40 minutes of that was baking time.  It then sat around for about 2 hours at the barbecue before it was served and was still delicious.  Although I really like the idea of oats being a component of crumbles, this oat-free shortbread-like crumble topping was stunning.  And the filling?  What everyone says about the sweetness of strawberries perfectly complimenting the tartness of rhubarb?  It’s true.  The two together reminded me of a cherry filling.  Don’t get me wrong, it was really good, I guess I just thought it was going to be something unlike anything I’d ever tasted.  Still, I (and everyone at the party who ate it) gave it two thumbs up.  I’m now willing to venture a little further into the strawberry-rhubarb dessert realm…next spring!  Until then, I hope there will be at least a few summer peach and blackberry cobblers in my future!  Stay tuned!



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Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble
from smittenkitchen.com

Yields 6 to 8 servings.

For the topping:
1 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Demerara sugar (or turbinado sugar aka Sugar in the Raw)
Zest of one lemon
1/4 pound (1 stick or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
1 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 quart strawberries plus a few extras, hulled, quartered
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch of salt

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Prepare topping: In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugars and lemon zest and add the melted butter. Mix until small and large clumps form. Refrigerate until needed.

2. Prepare filling: Toss rhubarb, strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch and a pinch of salt in a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. (I used an oval dish this time, because they fit better in the bottom of a shopping bag.)

3. Remove topping from refrigerator and cover fruit thickly and evenly with topping. Place pie plate on a (foil-lined, if you really want to think ahead) baking sheet, and bake until crumble topping is golden brown in places and fruit is bubbling beneath, about 40 to 50 minutes.

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I’ve been trying to incorporate a greater variety of whole grains into my diet lately.  I’ve found the recipes on 101cookbooks.com to be a good place to start and I recently tried out Heather’s Farro Recipe for a barbecue side dish.  The appeal of this recipe was that I could make many of the salad components (including the farro) ahead of time.  I soon discovered that the Davis Co-op doesn’t carry farro so I decided to go with pearled barley as a substitute.

The only problem was that I didn’t know how much to get.  I knew I needed 6 cups of cooked barley in the salad and maybe because it was almost 10 pm (I can’t think of another good excuse), I poured almost 4 cups of barley into my bag and proceeded to cook it all that night.  Yeah yeah, I knew the grain would bulk up while cooking, but listen up folks!  It turns out that 4 cups of dried barley makes over 12 cups of cooked barley!  And I wasn’t exactly expecting a small army at this barbecue…

That catches us up to this morning (two days post-barbecue) when I  found myself staring at a big tupperware of unused cooked barley and decided to make another barley salad!  This time I made a few tweaks to the original recipe, omitting the split yellow peas, green peas, and chives and adding chopped green onions, pork tenderloin, and avocado.  In case you’re wondering, the unchanged salad components were the roasted green onions (delicious!), goat cheese, barley, salad greens, and the citrus vinaigrette.

Vicken and I had it for lunch and we were quite pleased!  Our only complaint was that the amount of olive oil in the original dressing was a little overpowering, so I cut it back from 1/2 to 1/3 cup in the recipe below.

I should point out that although I have modified recipes before, I feel like I graduated to a new level today.  Since I’ve had to think a lot about Bloom’s Taxonomy for the teaching workshops I’ve led this quarter, I immediately felt the need to categorize the level of cognitive development I’ve achieved in the kitchen.  And you know what?  I’m synthesizing, people!  SYNTHESIS is higher order thinking!  I’m making progress!  You should play around with the ingredients you add to this salad and do some synthesizing yourself!
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Citrus Barley Salad
(adapted from Heather’s Farro Recipe, 101cookbooks.com)

Ingredients
6 cups cooked pearled barley
1/2 pound roasted pork tenderloin (or roasted chicken breast, etc.), chopped into bit sized pieces–I cheated and got this at the Nugget (local Davis grocery store)
6 green onions, white/light green parts sliced in half length wise and cut into 1.5 inch segments, green parts chopped into thin slices
1/2 cup goat cheese
4 handfuls salad greens
1 avocado, diced
citrus parmesan vinaigrette*

Directions
1. Cover 2 cups pearled barley with water by 2 inches.  Salt liberally.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 40-50 minutes or until barley is tender but not mushy.  The grain should retain some firmness.  Drain the barley and set aside to cool.  You can refrigerate this ahead of time until you are ready to assemble the salad.

2. Toss the white/light green onion segments in olive oil and place on a baking sheet.  Roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until light brown, stirring once.

3. Combine barley and dressing in a large bowl and stir well to coat the barley.  Add the pork tenderloin and chopped dark green onion sections, then the goat cheese. Toss in the salad greens and chopped avocado last.  Serve immediately.

*Citrus Parmesan Vinaigrette: combine in a jar the zest and juice of 1 orange, 1 choped shallot, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar, and 1/3 cup good quality olive oil.  Salt to taste.  Shake to mix the dressing.

I’ve been talking about starting a cooking blog for a while now.  Originally I was going to write a blog about all of my hobbies–cooking, sewing, painting, rock climbing, running, etc.–the point being to document the things I do in life that make me happy.  I imagine I’ll talk about all of these hobbies at some point or another, but I’ve decided to limit my focus (at least initially) to cooking because that’s what I’m currently most obsessed with.

In general, my goal is to experiment with a LOT of recipes and assemble a collection of many great tasting, wholesome, and healthy dishes.  I’ll tell you about the ones that flop and the keepers along the way.  I might also write about a few decadent desserts because everything, including healthy eating, should be done in moderation!