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Arsip Tag: rhubarb
One of the primary pieces of advice my grandmother imparted on me — besides the fact that she thought I should be a writer, an absurd idea I promptly ignored — was that one should always leave the house looking the best they can. I realize this might sound a little old-fashioned and possibly even oppressive — I Exist As More Than A Decorative Object, thankyouverymuch — but I took it to heart nonetheless because I know she didn’t mean high heels and rollers, but mostly that looking more with it than you might actually feel sometimes can trick you too.
I apply it in the kitchen as well. Thus, while if we’re being completely honest, life is currently a swarm of getting recipes ready for the next book (eee!), a to-do list for this month as long as the remainder of this year, kids waking up way too early, mama going to bed too late, an apartment that has yet to clean itself and let’s not even talk about what’s going on in the produce drawer — i.e. real life, and not even a bad one — rather than dwelling on the chaos, I think we should cook for the life we want, not for the life we have. Thus: I choose picnic bars.
Because when the opportunity to spend a weekend picnic-ing or basically doing anything that involves blankets, lawns, hammocks, iced tea or naps and laziness, I’m going to be so ready for it. Also, statistically speaking, having picnic bars ready immensely increases the chance that one will find or create a picnic to take them to. [Caveat: Not confirmed by actual statistician but I just know it’s going to work out for us.]
One year ago: Fake Shack Burger
Two years ago: Soft Pretzel Buns and Knots
Three years ago: Greek Salad with Lemon and Oregano
Four years ago: Vidalia Onion Soup with Wild Rice
Five years ago: Rhubarb Streusel Muffins
Six years ago: Pecan Cornmeal Butter Cake and Mushroom Crepe Cake
Seven years ago: Rhubarb Cobbler and Broccoli Slaw
Eight years ago: Cherry Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake and Mushroom Streudel
Nine years ago: Homemade Oreos and Celophane Noodle Salad with Roast Pork
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Roasted Leek and White Bean Galettes and Date Breakfast Squares
1.5 Years Ago: Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Prailine Sauce
2.5 Years Ago: Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Onions and Apple-Herb Stuffing For All Seasons
3.5 Years Ago: Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
4.5 Years Ago: Gingersnaps and Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Biscuits
Almond Rhubarb Picnic Bars
Consider these a spring riff on 2014’s apricot pistachio squares; here we make a more classic frangipane with toasted almonds and extract and the rhubarb, well, I know ombré and chevron are totally out these days (grandma would not approve) but this was honestly accidental, a thing that happens almost naturally when you bias-cut a great pile of rhubarb and try to puzzle-piece it into a pattern. If all of your rhubarb are pointing in the same direction when you cut them, that is, the greener bases on one side and the pinker tops on the other, and you work through the pieces from one side of the board to the other, a gentle transition of color happens on its own. Or, you know, you could just scatter pieces all over and it will all taste the same in the end.
You can double this recipe and make them in a 9×13-inch pan.
Yield: I cut these into 16 2×2-inch squares
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea or salt
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine
3/4 cup (75 grams or 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 ounces) sliced almonds, ideally toasted and cooled
1 tablespoon (10 grams) all purpose flour
A few pinches of sea salt
6 tablespoons (75 grams) plus 1 teaspoon (5 grams) granulated sugar
5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract, 2 teaspoons brandy or another flavoring of your choice (totally optional)
1/2 pound rhubarb
Powdered sugar or 1/4 cup jam of your choice
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut two 12-inch lengths of parchment paper and trim each to fit the 8-inch width of an 8×8-inch square baking pan. Press it into the bottom and sides of your pan in one direction, then use the second sheet to line the rest of the pan, perpendicular to the first sheet. This is going to make it very easy to remove the bars.
Make the crust: Combine the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Cut the butter into chunks, and add it to the bowl, then run the machine until the mixture forms large clumps — that’s right, just keep running it; it might take 30 seconds to 1 minute for it to come together, but it will. [No food processor? Get the butter to room temperature and beat it with the sugar, then the flour and salt and mix until combined. Chilling it for 15 minutes or so will make it easier to press in.]
Transfer the dough to your prepared baking pan and press it evenly across the bottom and 1/4-inch up the sides. Bake for 15 minutes, until very pale golden. For the sake of speed, transfer to a cooling rack in your freezer for 10 to 15 minutes while you prepare the filing.
Make the filling: In your food processor bowl (which I never bother cleaning between these steps), grind almonds, 6 tablespoons sugar, flour and salt together until the nuts are powdery. Cut the butter into chunks and add it to the machine. Run the machine until no buttery bits are visible. Add any flavorings and egg, blending until just combined. Spread filling over mostly cooled (warmth is okay but it’s hoped that the freezer will have firmed the base enough that you can spread something over it) crust.
Arrange the fruit: Trim rhubarb and cut it half horizontally top to bottom, i.e. like splitting a hamburger bun, with the flatter part on the bottom. [Update: Does this diagram help?] Keep tops and bottoms matched/stacked and cut stalks on the diagonal into about 1 1/4-inch lengths. The top and bottom of each segment should nicely “V” together, color side up, in a chevron pattern. If you mostly reach for the more green segments first and the pink-er segments second, you’ll end up with an ombré look on top. Sprinkle fruit with 1 teaspoon granulated sugar.
Bake the bars: For 45 to 55 minutes, until they’re golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the almond cream underneath comes out cream-free. The rhubarb pieces are going to move around a little as it bakes so don’t be surprised if the pattern looks a little different when it’s done.
Let cool in pan on a rack, or in the fridge, or even in the freezer. You can decorate the bars with a little powdered sugar, or warm some jam and brush it over for a glossier finish. I find it easiest to get very clean cuts when the bars are very cold. A serrated knife, used gently, can ensure the rhubarb stays perfectly put if it’s not cold enough. While bars do not need to be refrigerated if it will just be a day or so, they keep longer and (I think) more nicely chilled.
If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet, a deep (ideally 3-inch sides) 9-inch cake pan or regular depth 10-inch cake pan should work as well. Coat the sides with butter or nonstick spray. Cook the topping in a frying pan and pour it into the prepared cake pan before adding the batter. Baking times will vary a bit; the 9-inch is likely to take longer, a 10-inch, possibly shorter.
- 1 pound (450 grams) rhubarb, trimmed
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- Finely grated zest from half a lemon
- 4 tablespoons (2 ounces or 55 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine
- Two pinches of salt
- 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup (125 grams) light or dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- A few gratings of fresh nutmeg
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
Make topping: In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, trim your rhubarb to lengths that will fit across the bottom in one direction, i.e. some short and some taller. Remove rhubarb and cut each stalk lengthwise into thin (about 1/4-inch thick) ribbons. If your rhubarb is already quite thin, you might just want to halve each piece lengthwise.
Sprinkle sugar into skillet and add lemon zest; use your fingers to mix the zest into the sugar; the grit of the sugar will help release the most flavor from it. Add butter and salt and heat skillet over medium until butter has melted, stirring frequently. Add rhubarb and cook, turning gently, for 3 to 4 minutes, until it has softened slightly and released some of its liquid. Remove from heat and set skillet aside.
Make cake: In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined, then vanilla. Sprinkle mixture with baking powder, salt, and all the spices and beat well to thoroughly mix them in. Add buttermilk; mixture will have a curdly texture but don’t worry, it’s all going to even out. Scrape down bowl and add flour; beat only until it disappears.
Check your rhubarb base to make sure all the pieces are in the order you’d like them to be; nudge around any that are not, then dollop cake batter over rhubarb mixture in small spoonfuls and smooth top as best as you can. As the rhubarb mixture will be very wet, this will seem almost impossible. I actually gave up and just put it in the oven, where the cake spread into one even layer on its own. (Thank you, cake.)
Bake cake: For about 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted deep into the cake (but not the topping underneath) comes out batter-free. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edges to loosen. Place a larger plate upside down over the skillet and use two potholdered hands to flip cake out onto it. If any rhubarb is stuck in the pan or slides down the side, just return it to the top of the cake cake.
Serve: Warm or at room temperature. Cake keeps for a couple days at room temperature and up to a week in the fridge, or so I hear.
My friend David Lebovitz, OG food blogger and nine-time author, wrote a book on the iconic cocktails, aperitifs, and cafe traditions of France, including 160 recipes, that came out in March. It’s the kind of book that makes you feel like you’ve hopped on a plane to fly to Paris to spend long, leisurely afternoons-into-evenings wandering, sipping and tasting this and that, something I had the delight to do almost a year ago in person. The circumstances might be terrible, but it feels like a bit of luck that he’s created a book that allows us to recreate these tastes and the feeling, as best as possible, at home.
David wastes no time dropping us into Paris at dawn, right around the time we’d be stumbling off a too-brief-to-be-restful redeye, where the lights in cafes are flickering on, followed by the coffee machines. Baguettes are picked up in paper sacks that will be served with butter and jam. He explains that cafes are the living rooms of Paris, places where artists and writers have long worked, attracted by the heat that their homes lacked, and the wine, and remain places to meet friends outside your too-small apartment, freeing you from having to clean up before people come over. From café au lait to chocolate chaud (hot chocolate), citronnade (lemonade), into l’heure de l’apero (a time to unwind with a drink before dinner) to the craft cocktail movement of the last decade, the book is a bit of a dreamland, so perfect for those of us who desperately miss wandering right now.
I went, almost predictably, straight for the rhubarb cordial, attracted by the use of my favorite spring stalks and by the uncomplicated ingredient list (rhubarb, gin, sugar, citrus zest). A cordial is an infusion in the liqueur family (sweeter spirits) that includes cremes and distillations.* Historically, they were opportunities to use up a bumper crop of fruit or preserve a harvest; today, I think of them as a way to celebrate seasonality. When my book arrived in early March, I chopped some rhubarb (alas, pre-season and borderline-sketch, sorry, but you should seek out the freshest you can find), and added it to Dingle gin (from our trip to Ireland last year), “Cutie easy-to-peel mandarin” zest, and sugar in a jar. It’s supposed to hang out at room temperature for a month but my apartment runs warm and David assured me I could put it in the fridge instead, it just might take longer. In fact, I forgot about it for two months, until yesterday afternoon. At 5:01pm, we poured it over an ice cube in a small glass, finished it with a twist of orange peel, and a splash of tonic (but sparkling wine or seltzer would work too) and clinked our 54th day of safety inside, looking forward to make this again every spring.
Six months ago: Perfect Apple Tarte Tatin
One year ago: Braised Ginger Meatballs In Coconut Broth
Two years ago: Triple Coconut Cream Pie
Three years ago: Pistachio Cake and A Reall Great Pot of Chickpeas
Four years ago: Potato Pizza, Even Better, Carrot Tahini Muffins and Sheet Pan Chicken Tikka
Five years ago: Strawberry Rhubarb Soda Syrup, Artichoke Gratin Toasts and Maple Pudding Cake
Six years ago: Lamb Meatballs with Feta and Lemon
Seven years ago: Ramp Pizza and Yogurt Panna Cotta with Walnuts and Honey
Eight years ago: Pasta with Garlicky Broccoli Rabe, Classic Ice Cream Sandwiches and Cinnamon Toast French Toast
Nine years ago: Heavenly Chocolate Cake Roll and Crispy Potato Roast
Ten years ago: Tangy Spiced Brisket
Eleven years ago: Pickled Grapes with Cinnamon and Black Pepper and Buttermilk Ice Cream
Twelve years ago: Fork-Crushed Purple Potatoes, Whole Wheat Apple Muffins, and Caramelized Shallots
Thirteen years ago: Black Bean Confetti Salad and Margarita Cookies and Tequila Lime Chicken