Rhubarb Pecan Snack Bread

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Happy belated Mother’s Day!

I recognize that originially, Mother’s Day was a promotion by card and candy companies interested in boosting sales, but I am hopelessly romantic when it comes to anything having to do with my children, so it is one of my favorite days of the year. In spite of the fact that it makes me sneeze and puts me at grave risk for Lyme Disease and poison ivy, I hike and plant, and mow, and adore all things May.

Of course, May and Mother’s Day both make me think of my own mom, whose 81st birthday is next week. Mom is a huge fan of lilacs. And, she adores rhubarb. Since I was small, she has always had a rhubarb plant, and celebrates spring by baking a strawberry-rhubarb pie.

Last week, Bob and I drove through pouring rain to begin the process of cleaning out my parents’ New Jersey house. They have made the move to Florida full-time for health reasons and the lake house is for sale. We walked around back, and I saw the rhubarb. Knife in hand, I ventured out into the torrent to collect a handful of red/green stems, discarding the big, poisonous leaves.

I wanted to make something that would showcase the beautiful stalks. I didn’t want to sweeten it too much, and I forgot to buy strawberries. Some research turned up a recipe on the wonderful King Arthur Flour site for a quick bread. As always, I made a couple tweaks for both taste and health.

Mary and Barbara joined me for the baking, and I dropped off a hunk for them the next day. Bob and I are working on the rest. The bread is moist, lightly sweet, with a pleasant sour bite from the rhubarb. The nuggets of pecan add a delightful crunch. It is perfect warm or toasted with a schmear of cream cheese.

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Rhubarb Pecan Snack Bread

2 ½ cups sliced rhubarb, plus one stalk for garnish
1 cup organic all purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
2 eggs, room temp
1 cup organic cane sugar, divided
sprinkle freshly grated nutmeg
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1/3 cup walnut or vegetable oil, plus a bit extra for greasing the pan

Extra sugar for decoratiing (opt)

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan.

Cook the sliced rhubarb in a dry pan until it breaks down, about 5 minutes. Add ½ cup of the sugar and mix well. Let cool. Cut the remaining stalk into strips or small half moons to garnish the top of the bread.

Mix the flours, remaining half cup sugar, salt, baking soda, lemon zest, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Mix the eggs, oil and rhubarb mixture in a medium bowl.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry and mix gently until just combined, being careful not to overmix. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and smooth the top. Now use the reserved raw rhubarb to make a pretty pattern on top of the bread. Sprinkle with extra sugar if you like.

Bake for 55-60 minutes, until firm. Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes, turn out and cool to room temp before slicing.

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Posted in baked, baked goods, baking, bread, breakfast, brunch, dessert, snack, sweets, treats, Uncategorized, vegetarian | Tagged , | 12 Comments

Potato Crusted Halibut with Spring Vegetables

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It would be easy to argue that the morel is one of the most prized treasures a forager can find. So imagine my surprise and utter delight when I walked out my front door the other day and discovered dozens of perfect specimens in my “lawn.” I put that word in quotation marks because we don’t really have a lawn here in the woods. We have a motley collection of weeds which I mow once a week during the warm weather.

A quick count before I ran inside to get Bob: 51 morels. He was as dazzled as I. The immediate question: Harvest immediately, or wait a couple of days in the hopes that they would be safe and grow a bit bigger, giving us an even greater yield. I guarded them carefully for two days, during which time they did indeed grow. At that point, I felt they would soon begin to deteriorate and we decided, reverently, to gather them.

I admit, I was so excited (and suffering from hay fever), that I was unable to sleep, and texted Meg to see if she was still up and wanted to chat. We had a lovely 2 am chat during which I asked her what she thought I should cook with the morels. She did not hesitate: “Halibut.” I was speechless because, in fact, I had already decided I would make halibut. She was not as impressed as I was by the resonance. It was, she said, simply the correct answer.

I developed this recipe to showcase our abundance of foraged produce, both the morels and the season’s bounty of fiddleheads. Asparagus is a natural, perfect addition. But I don’t expect most of my readers to have ready access to these wild foods, and cultivated substitutes are absolutely wonderful here.

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Potato Crusted Halibut with Spring Vegetables

I’ve suggested spinach as a substitute for the fiddleheads. Frozen or fresh peas or artichoke hearts would be equally good.

Serves 2

For the fish:
¾ lb. skinless halibut, cut into two pieces
2 tbs. softened butter
1 cup good quality potato chips
¼ cup toasted, salted almonds
¼ cup panko (gluten free are fine)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375°. Use a teaspoon of the butter to grease an 8 inch baking dish or pie pan.

Season the fish liberally on both sides with salt and pepper. If you have time, do this a few hours ahead of preparation and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Place the potato chips and almonds in the bowl of a small food processor, and grind until fine crumbs. Add the panko, and process to mix.

Rub the fish with the remaining butter and place the filets in the prepared pan. Sprinkle the crumbs over the top. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the fish is just firm to pressure.

For the vegetables:
½ lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
½ lb. fiddlehead ferns or spinach
½ lb. morels or other wild or cultivated mushrooms
wild or cultivated chives or scallions, minced
2 tbs. butter
¼ cup white wine
salt and pepper, to taste

Sauté the mushrooms in the butter for a few minutes, then add the other vegetables and continue to sauté until they are almost cooked through. Add the wine and cook over high heat for a minute or two more. Add the chives or scallions.

Serve the vegetables in shallow bowls, topped with the fish.

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Blog notes: Happy birthday to Brian, who is hiking Everest today, on the day he turns 24!

If you are local or within traveling distance, please join us this Friday, May 5, 5-8:00 pm for our annual Empty Bowls Event at the WVSD High School. I’ve unloaded 3 dozen or so new bowls and they will be available at the event. Come choose a bowl, enjoy some soup, and help feed the hungry!

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Posted in dinner, entertaining, entree, fish, seafood, dinner, gluten free, healthy, main, party, Uncategorized, vegetable | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Spinach Stuffed Portobellos

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I fell in love on Wednesday. Twice.

Sitting opposite a lovely new friend at lunch, I felt a tiny presence at the left side of my chair. I looked down into a radiant smile from the toddler who had ventured from his mama’s side on a nearby couch. He wandered back and forth from me to mom several times before deciding to climb up and sit with me.

I gave him a little boost, and he turned so he could see his mother as he settled his back against my side, and relaxed against me. Instantly, I was transported back a quarter century, the sense memory of my own children’s tiny bodies next to mine. Sweet peace for my tender heart.

That evening, Bob and I took our after dinner walk and saw a sudden movement on a hillock beside our road. A tiny kitten? The little animal turned and sat down, looked at us intently, checking us out as we focused back. Fox. We watched each other for long seconds and then the baby “spoke,” a sound I can only describe as a bark. The vocalization was answered from within the hill. Mama? Our new friend quickly returned to his den, but we’ve seen him several times since. We are entranced, spending a lot of time near the burrow, hoping for another encounter with “our” baby.

I’m sure, like me, your heart opens in spring, making room for new life and new love. The recipe I share with you this week is loaded with fresh, bright flavor and plenty of green. It is based on a recipe from Cook’s Country, with a few of my characteristic modifications. Enjoy it and fall in love!!

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Spinach Stuffed Portobellos

Serves 4 as an appetizer or side, 2 as a main course.

Remove the gills from the mushrooms with a spoon. Gluten free panko work well here.

4 medium portobellos, gills removed
2 baby or 1 small leeks, cleaned and diced
1 ½ cups baby spinach
¾ cup panko
zest of 1 lemon
1 ½ oz. feta, crumbled
2 tbs. olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
fresh mint for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 450°. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Brush the mushrooms with 1 tsp. of the oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and place them, gill side down, on the sheet. Roast for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and turn the mushrooms over.

While the mushrooms roast, saute the leeks in the remaining oil over med-high heat until they begin the soften, about 5 minutes. Add the panko and continue to cook until the crumbs begin to brown, about 4 more minutes. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, 2 or 3 minutes. Off heat, add the zest and cheese, and stir to combine.

Divide the stuffing mixture between the mushroom caps. Return to oven and bake for 7-8 minutes, until the stuffing is well browned and piping hot. Serve with or without mint.

Blog note: Aren’t these new white porcelain dishes gorgeous? Perfect for food styling! Find some of them on Propped!

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Posted in appetizer, entree, gluten free, healthy, lunch, main, main course, roasted, supper, Uncategorized, vegetarian | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Pecan Macaroons

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I am so excited about sharing this recipe with you! It’s a new twist on a traditional family favorite. I’m tempted to claim that I was inspired to try this variation, but the truth is, it happened simply because I failed to plan ahead. So again, this is a case of necessity being the invention of mothers. Or however that goes…

I don’t remember the first time I baked Cook’s Illustrated’s Almond Macaroons. The kids were really little, so it was probably twenty years ago or so. I’m sure I made them for Passover, since we’ve always done some sort of seder, during which we pretend to care about flour and leavening.

It became something of a tradition to serve what Brian called “macayoons,” (and they will always be thus), with big bowls of Chocolate Dip and fruit for dessert at the end of the Passover meal, after the ritual of the afikomen and the cursory acknowledgement of the evils of slavery.

So, I decided to resurrect (see, I’m thinking Easter, too) our old ritual this year, but I forgot to buy almonds. I did have a beautiful new bag of pecans. Since my husband is a huge pecan fan, I decided to see if the recipe would work as well with those. Stunning success!!!

These are ultra-full of pecan goodness, pleasantly dense, tender, and chewy, unapologetically sweet. They contain no flour, so are kosher for passover and gluten free.

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Pecan Macaroons

Makes 20-24 cookies

3 cups pecans
1 ½ cups cane sugar
3 egg whites (1/3 cup)
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 325°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

Grind the pecans in a food processor fitted with the steel blade, 1 minute. Add the sugar, and process until finely ground. Add the egg white, salt, and vanilla and process until mass gathers around blade.

Form rounds using about 2 teaspoons of dough per cookie. You may do this using a portion scoop or spoon, or form balls by rolling them between your palms. I’ve also used a piping bag or a zip-top bag with a corner snipped off. Place them about an inch apart.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until very lightly browned. Cool slightly before serving. These freeze well, bring to room temp before serving.

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Posted in baked goods, baking, dessert, easy, gluten free, party, sweets, Uncategorized, vegetarian | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Caboodles

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I can’t say it looks or feels much like spring yet, but last night, a visitor reminded me that hibernation is over! The biggest black bear I’ve ever seen came right up to my kitchen door to swipe the bird feeder. By the time I crossed the room for the camera, he’d inhaled the seed and ambled away, no posing for a silly photographer-potter in pajamas.

We did have a respite from the chill last weekend when we flew to Florida for Wendy and Rick’s wedding. It was a beautiful, untraditional, meaningful, and joyful event. Held in deep woods, the ceremony included a four winds ritual, blowing of the shofar by the bride’s ex-husband, and a slide show of selfies of the couple on their many adventures. The “chuppa,” a ship’s sail, was held by the bride and groom’s surviving siblings, and the officiant was their therapist, a dear man whose sweet husband sobbed through the taking of the vows.

It was a huge honor to stand beside my sister as she celebrated her love for a truly wonderful partner. I wish them a long and happy life together. You may know that this has been a troubled time for our family, both of our parents struggling with terrible health problems. It was a blessing for all of us to celebrate a happy occasion.

Wendy and I share many things, including a love of running and hiking, and a commitment to healthy eating. We both eat lots of vegetables, and cabbage happens to be a favorite. It’s affordable, and Mom taught us to value a bargain. We believe that if you eat a big pile of cabbage, you feel like you’ve had something substantial. I can’t remember which one of us invented Unstuffed Cabbage, but we almost always make it when we’re together.

So, with my sister very much in my heart, I was immediately drawn to this recipe when I saw it on Food 52. As noodle lovers who are always trying to cut down on carbs, anything remotely pasta-ish seems worth a try. Now, of course, cabbage is not pasta. But I gotta say, this does hit some of the notes. It is soft and deeply savory. The sauce is rich and clings beautifully to the strands of vegetables. And the color is pure spring.

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Caboodles

Serves 4

The Food 52 recipe calls for savoy cabbage. I used regular cabbage. I made a few other changes to their recipe because that’s how I roll.

This makes a perfect main course with the addition of a fried egg or two, a piece of fish or chicken, or pork. I’m thinking Easter or Passover, ya know?

½ large head cabbage
1 large leek
½ stick (4 tbs.) butter
½ cup grated parm, plus extra for serving
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
zest and juice of ½ lemon
salt to taste

Trim the leek of all dark green. Cut it in half and then into eights lengthwise, so you create thin strands. Cut the cabbage into thin ribbons. Wash well, and dry in a spinner or pat dry with towels.

Melt half the butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Begin to sauté the leeks over med-high heat until they start to wilt. Add a good pinch of salt. Throw a couple of tablespoons of water into the pot, stir, cover, and turn heat to low. Cook for 5 minutes.

Now add the remaining butter and the cabbage, turn the heat to high and get the cabbage all heated, stirring, for a few minutes. Add a pinch more salt. Throw another couple tablespoonfuls of water into the pot, cover again, and turn heat to med-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or so. Make sure that the bottom of the pot doesn’t get dry; if it does, add more water.

Taste a strand of cabbage for doneness; it should be quite soft, cook a bit more if needed.

Off heat, add the lemon juice, zest, parm, and pepper, and stir vigorously for a few minutes. Serve, passing extra parm, pepper, and lemon.

Blog note: I just unloaded the kiln; lots of terrific new pots. It’ll take a few days for me to get them photographed and listed on Propped and Etsy. Keep an eye on my Instagram Feed for news.

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Posted in gluten free, healthy, low carb, lunch, main, one pot meals, side dish, Uncategorized, vegetable, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Spring Gomasio Veggie Tofu Pan Roast

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The light changes dramatically here in Warwick in the very early spring. Right around the time we change the clocks, the angle of sun makes everything glow with the promise of long, soft days and warmer nights. This year, we have a deep, sparkling blanket of snow from last week’s blizzard; it feels a little peculiar to have sunlight for a walk after supper when the landscape looks so wintry.

The snow pack has given us a chance to get out into the woods on our cross country skis. It’s a terrific workout followed by a cup Totally Luxurious Comforting Hot Chocolate and a slice of toasted Mindfulness Bread  with almond butter in front of the fire.

It’s time for some food that feels springy, even as the grill is still buried and are toes are as yet too cold for salad suppers. One of my Instagram followers asked me for the recipe for my homemade gomasio, and thinking about that budding mind a direction; I love that sort of inspiration.

I have my Instagram friends, especially Jill @feedtheswimmers, to thank for the gomasio idea; I’ve been making my own because I’m such a committed diy-er. But Nancy, @urbankitchenapothecary, specializes in the stuff and I’d encourage you to check out her feed and her website for extra inspo and purchasing options.

Gomasio, or gomashio, is a Japanese condiment consisting of ground toasted sesame seeds and salt. Sometimes herbs and/or pepper are added. My version uses both black and white seeds, but you may use either. Unhulled seeds are traditional. I buy organic seeds and encourage you to do the same.

This recipe will give you a taste of this lovely condiment. And I’m sure you’ll think of many other uses. Here are some to get you started:

Top raw veggies, like carrots and cucumbers
Top a salad
Sprinkle on scrambled, hard-cooked or fried eggs
Top a chili or soup
Sprinkle on homemade crackers
In a grilled cheese sandwich
Garnish a stir fry
Sprinkle on bread dough before baking
Perfect crust for a roasted piece of salmon or chicken
Top a fruit salad
Top ice cream (I know, you’d be surprised)

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Spring Gomasio Veggie Tofu Pan Roast

Gomasio

Makes a little more than a cup.

½ cup white sesame seeds
½ cup black sesame seeds
1 tbs. coarse sea salt

Toast the seed in a dry skillet until the white seeds just begin to color and the mixture is fragrant. Mix in the salt. Grind in a mortar and pestle or mini food processor until most of the seeds are broken up. I hold out a few tablespoons to leave whole just because it’s prettier.

Tofu

The cornstarch helps form a nice crust. Skip it if you don’t want the carbs.

Extra firm tofu
Drizzle of walnut or olive oil
Sprinkle of soy sauce
Gomasio

optional: a bit of cornstarch and/or honey

Preheat the oven to 450°.

Press the tofu between two towel-lined plates for 15 minutes or so. Cut into sticks or cubes. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil, soy sauce, honey and cornstarch (if using). Toss very gently. Sprinkle on the gomasio. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tofu pieces are browned and crispy. Cool for a few minutes to let them firm up before you try to move them to a plate.

Veggies

I’ll list the veg I used here, but feel free to substitute your favorites.

Purple and green cabbage, cut into wedges
Purple cauliflower, cut into wedges
Purple carrots, sliced
Asparagus, trimmed
Purple potatoes, cut into wedges
Purple onions, cut into wedges
Frozen artichoke hearts

Line baking sheets with parchment. Toss the veggies with a bit of your favorite oil, salt, and pepper. Lay them in a single layer. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until each veg is tender. You may need to remove the quicker cooking ones (like asparagus) as they are done. Sprinkle with gomasio.

Serve immediately, though roasted veggies and tofu reheat well and are also terrific at room temp or cold. Maple Sesame Dressing, Tahini Lime Sauce, or Peanut Sauce, are all terrific with this.
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Posted in condiment, dinner, entree, gluten free, healthy, low carb, lunch, main, roasted, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Candy Pork

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I was trying to remember when we renamed Chinese Barbecue Pork. In my memory, it is connected to a trip Megan took to the Pacific Northwest when she was a teenager, about a decade ago. Something about eating freshly grilled nuggets of native salmon on a beach; the sweet, Asian inspired salmon was called Candy Fish. Or was it Fish Candy?

Then, I looked up the recipe that was the original inspiration for Candy Pork, and the Cook’s Illustrated listing is dated 2007, the same year as that trip. So, I would say we’ve been enjoying Candy Pork in our family for ten years, and it’s about time I share it here on the blog.

My rendition is very similar to the ATK version. Strips of pork shoulder or country ribs are soaked in an Asian marinade; a portion of which is used as the base of a glaze that coats and lacquers the meat, making it sweet, gingery, savory, and pleasantly chewy. It is terrific served as the basis for supper, just serve with rice or a grain (here, I went with bulger, lightly season with sesame oil), and a steamed veg. Sliced, the pork is wonderful on top of a  salad or slaw. It would be great in Phake Pho! Throw leftovers into fried rice (or cauliflower rice), or fold into a wrap with some of the extra glaze and a few leaves of arugula or kale.

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Candy Pork

Serves 4

2 pounds pork shoulder or country ribs, cut into 2 inch wide strips
¼ cup cane sugar
¼ cup soy sauce
3 tbs. hoisin sauce
2 tbs.dry white wine
2 tbs. toasted sesame oil
2 tbs. ketchup
2 tbs. honey
1 scallion, sliced
2 pieces candied ginger, minced
black pepper, to taste

extra scallions for garnish

Using a fork, prick the pork all over on both sides to help the marinade to penetrate the meat.

In a bowl, mix the sugar, soy, hoisin, wine, sesame oil, scallion, ginger, and pepper. Remove half a cup of marinade and set aside. Place the meat in a large ziplock bag and pour the marinade over, smooshing to mix. Press out extra air, seal the bag, put it on a plate (in case of leaks), and stash in the fridge for at least a half hour and up to four hours.

Place the reserved marinade in a small saucepan and boil to reduce by half. Add the ketchup and honey to make the glaze.

Preheat the oven to 300°. Line a sheet pan with foil and then place a rack into the pan. Remove the pork from the marinade and lay the slices on the rack. Pour ¼ cup water into the pan and cover the pan tightly with foil. Roast, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, and roast until the meat begins to brown, 40 minutes.

Heat the broiler and broil 7-9 minutes until the meat is fairly dark. Use a brush to paint with a generous layer of glaze; return to broiler. Watch carefully; broil for 3-4 minutes until the glaze is bubbly and dark brown in spots. Flip the meat and repeat the process.

Cool slightly and serve with remaining glaze and extra scallions.

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Posted in dinner, gluten free, low carb, lunch, main, supper, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments