Rhubarb was originally cultivated for its medicinal properties and was not used in European cooking until the late 18th century. The history of rhubarb is very complicated but simply put there are only two broad categories, medicinal and culinary.
Thought of by many as an old fashioned ‘vegetable’, it never has really fallen out of favor. In Germany, rhubarb season is from April until June. There are countless recipes using rhubarb as the German people are very passionate about eating produce they have grown themselves.
I have an inherited love of rhubarb — the way it tastes, its huge beautiful foliage, its hardiness, productiveness …….
RHUBARB SOUR CREAM PIE (German Rhabarber Sauerrahn Kuchen) has been in my pie ‘go to’ file forever. The combination of these two ingredients works magic. Just for something different, I decided to use the same recipe but make it into tarts today.
Rhubarb Sour Cream Pie / Tarts
In a small bowl, combine oatmeal, brown sugar, margarine, flour & citrus zest. Cut in margarine until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon & nutmeg; beat in sour cream & egg. Gently fold in rhubarb. Pour into pastry shell. Sprinkle topping mixture over the filling.
Bake at 400 F. for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F. & bake for 35-40 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.
- In order to obtain nice slices, refrigerate pie until cold then slice & heat a bit in the microwave if preferred.
CELEBRATING FATHER’S DAY!
Father’s Day, that special day set aside to honor our fathers and the father figures who have influenced our lives. A father’s love is such a special gift beyond compare. You only know the meaning when he is no longer there.
My father passed away in 2005 and Brion’s in 2011. The passage of time will never dim those precious memories we have of them. They followed very different paths in their life’s journey; my father was a farmer and Brion’s an army soldier. Both of them gave so much of themselves to their life’s work as well as to their families.
There are not enough words to describe how important my father was to me and the powerful influence he continues to be in my life even though he’s gone.
As a tribute to our dad’s on Father’s day, I am featuring a CHEESE CRUSTED APPLE PIE. Both of them loved apple pie so it seems like a good choice for the blog recipe.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt & cheese. Cut in half the shortening to resemble coarse meal; then remaining shortening until it resembles small peas. Add water, a little at a time, mixing lightly with a fork. Shape dough into a firm ball; chill for 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 F. On a lightly floured surface, roll pastry out to fit a 9-inch flan pan; trim edges. Cover pastry with a piece of parchment paper; cover with dried beans & bake for 7 minutes. Carefully remove beans & bake another 7 minutes. Remove from oven & cool.
Chop apples coarsely, place in a saucepan with lemon juice; cover & cook about 10 minutes or until just tender. Stir in flour, sugar & cinnamon; cool to room temperature.
In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour & pecans. Rub in butter until mixture is coarse & crumbly.
Place filling into pastry shell, sprinkle with topping. Bake at 400 F. for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 375 F. & bake further for 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Decorate with whipped cream, extra chopped pecans & powdered sugar, if desired.
- Due to the fact that ovens sometimes vary in temperature, you may need to adjust the baking temperature a little higher or lower than recipe states.
The thought of rhubarb is a nostalgic thing for me. I have memories of my mother’s neat row of rhubarb plants growing along the edge of her garden. Magically each spring they would reappear from what had been frozen ground only a few short weeks before. While other plants still lay dormant, the large fan shaped rhubarb leaves quickly gathered enough sunlight to produce some juicy stalks.
Tucked in behind the water fountain, in Brion and my flower garden, are three rhubarb plants. Originally we had put them there to show off that huge foliage as well as being used in my cooking. Time has passed and with our trees becoming more mature, they are getting more shade than they like. Nevertheless, last year they were still producing in late September.
I’m going to start off this season with some RHUBARB CHEESECAKE SQUARES, a favorite recipe that comes from tasteofhome.com
Rhubarb Cheesecake Squares
In a small bowl, combine flour, oats & brown sugar. Cut in butter until crumbly. Set aside 1 cup crumb mixture; press remaining mixture onto bottom of a greased 9-inch square baking dish. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a small bowl, beat cream cheese & sugar until smooth. Beat in salt, vanilla, cinnamon & nutmeg. Add egg; beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in walnuts & rhubarb. Pour over crust. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cutting into squares.
- If you are wanting to use frozen rhubarb, measure rhubarb while still frozen, then thaw completely. Drain in a sieve, but do not press liquid out.
Mango anything always sounds good to me. What isn’t to like about a ripe mango? Of course, its versatility as a fresh fruit, in salsa, baking, paired with meat etc. makes it pretty appealing. A few years ago, Brion & I spent 3 months in Cuenca, Ecuador. It was quite an ‘adventure’ but a valuable experience for us. If you follow my blog, you may recall the article I posted in July 2016 entitled ‘Dutch Apple Pie’.
Today, I wanted to tell you about the ‘markets’. Ecuador is famous for its colorful indigenous markets. Because the city of Cuenca sits high in the southern Andes mountains, it experiences spring-like weather year round. Small farms that surround this Colonial city grow a variety of lush produce in the rich, volcanic soil. These farmers bring their produce to these markets to sell to the vendors.
Cuenca has at least six major markets that usually entail a mix of indoor and open-air vendors. It is mind boggling when you see it for the first time. They sell a myriad of fruits and vegetables along with seafood, pork, beef and chicken, not to mention clothing, shoes, cook wear, sunglasses, etc, etc, etc. Of course, then there’s the fresh flower markets. All quite an amazing sight to see!!
As a rule, when it comes to chicken breast, I like to stuff them. I decided today,for something different, I would grill them as is and top them with some of those gorgeous mangoes.
Mango - Orange Chicken Breast
Mix spices on a plate; add chicken, turn to coat both sides of each breast. In a large skillet, heat oil & add chicken; cook 6-7 minutes on each side or until no pink remains.
Meanwhile, prepare couscous as directed on package, omitting salt & oil. Place couscous on serving platter & lay chicken breast on top. Cover to keep warm.
Add red pepper & green onion to skillet; cook for 1-2 minutes. Add mango, orange segments, cilantro & dressing; cook another minute or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Spoon over chicken.
From breakfast to dessert, healthy to decadent, traditional to innovative, the carrot cake is considered a timeless classic that never goes out of ‘style’. It was probably borne out of necessity, making use of the carrots’ natural sweetness, evolving from the carrot pudding of medieval times. Carrots contain more sugar than any other vegetable besides the sugar beet.
In the 1970’s, carrot cake was perceived as being ‘healthy’ due to the fact that carrots, raisins and nuts are all ‘good for us’. Then along came that glorious cream cheese frosting that forever bonded the pair. While raisins are undoubtedly the oldest compliment to carrots, pineapple, apples or applesauce as well as walnuts have all become modern day add-ins of choice.
I remember my mother making a jelly roll cake when I was growing up. It was a sponge cake baked in a sheet pan. She would spread a layer of jam over it when it was cool and roll it up. It looked unique and tasted great. Of course, today a cake roll is very common place with many variations. As far as carrots are concerned, you can transform this versatile veggie into everything from energy bars and smoothies to cinnamon rolls and cookies etc, etc, etc…. My choice today is to make a CARROT CAKE ROLL with CREAM CHEESE FILLING, yum!!
Carrot Cake Roll
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a jelly roll pan ( 10 x 15") with parchment paper & spray with baking spray.
With a hand mixer, beat eggs on high for 5 minutes, until frothy & dark yellow. Beat in sugar, oil & vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt & spices. Stir into wet ingredients just until blended. Fold in dry carrots.
Spread batter in prepared pan. This makes a very thin layer; use a spatula to make sure it is spread evenly to the corners of pan. Bake 10-15 minutes. Test cake with a toothpick to be sure it is completely baked. While cake is baking, spread a clean kitchen towel on work surface. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. As soon as cake comes out of oven, turn it over on towel. Remove parchment paper carefully.
Working at the short end, fold the edge of the towel over cake. Using the help of the towel, roll cake tightly. Let cool completely while rolled, at least an hour.
While cake is cooling, make filling. Beat butter & cream cheese together until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar & vanilla; beat until smooth.
When cake is cool, carefully unroll the towel. Spread the filling evenly over cake & re-roll tightly. Chill about 30 minutes to an hour. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired, slice & serve.
German-inspired yeasted coffee cake is a very popular type of cake all over Germany and Austria. It is very different from the typical butter cake associated with streusel coffee cake in North America. Whereas a butter cake is rich, sweet and fine grained, kuchen is light and slightly porous with a complexity of flavor that can only be found in yeast leavened baked goods. Of course, there are many different variations, but the important part is the streusel or crumbled topping, which consists of a combination of flour, sugar, butter and spices.
In the past, most German towns and cities had orchards planted all around them, on land that belonged to the community. Cows or sheep grazed underneath the trees and people were free to pick the fruits when they became ripe. Today most of those common lands have been turned into suburbs and the trees are gone. Destruction of the remnants of ancient orchards is ongoing, contributing to the loss of heirloom varieties. Even though the diversity of choice is decreasing, the apple is still by far the most popular fruit in Germany.
Here is my best adaptation of an APPLE STREUSEL COFFEE CAKE that I think you might enjoy to try.
Apfel-Streuselkuchen - German Apple Coffee Cake
In a large bowl, combine yeast, 1/8 cup sugar & lukewarm water; allow to dissolve. Stir in remaining 1/8 cup of sugar, salt, milk, sour cream, lemon juice & vanilla; mix well. Add egg & blend.
With fingertips, rapidly work the butter into 2 1/2 cups of the flour until coarse, meal-like consistency. Add to the yeast mixture & knead in bowl, adding more flour if necessary to make a smooth, elastic dough. Shape into a ball & place in a lightly buttered bowl. Cover tightly and let rise in a draft-free place until doubled in bulk.
Peel & slice apples. In a small saucepan, combine all filling ingredients except pecans. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until apples are tender, & juice has evaporated. Stir in pecans; set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon & lemon zest. With fingertips, rub in butter until mixture is coarse & crumbly. Set aside.
When dough has doubled in size, turn out on a lightly floured piece of wax paper. Press out gently into a rectangle about 10 x 14-inches in size. Spread apple filling to within 1/4-inch of edges & very gently press into dough. Roll up from the wide end, jelly-roll fashion.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a 9-inch tube or bundt pan. Sprinkle half of the streusel in pan. Carefully, (dough will be very soft) with the help of the wax paper, fit the roll into the pan so that the ends of the dough join. Pinch ends of together. Sprinkle cake with remaining streusel. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven & allow cake to cool before slicing.
When you think of sticky rolls, yeast dough comes to mind. Yeast with its long, slow rise, adds that wonderful flavor to breads of all kinds. But there are always those times when you need a quick ‘homespun’ dessert. This is where we can turn to baking powder and baking soda, those little white powders baker’s simply can’t live without.
I have always had a love for mangoes. In our part of the country they are quite expensive. Using the ‘individually quick frozen’ (IQF) mangoes seems to be the most economical way to buy them.
Adding a bit of cardamom spice to these Glazed Mango Pinwheels gives them such a flavor boost. My blog photo shows them when they first came out of the oven. After you invert them on a platter that nice sticky glaze runs down the sides ….. yum!
Old fashioned goodness with a new twist on sticky buns!
Old fashioned goodness with a new twist on sticky buns!
Mangoes & Syrup
Thaw & coarsely chop mangoes; toss with lemon juice; set aside. In a saucepan, combine syrup ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then simmer 3 minutes; set aside.
In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder & salt; cut in 1/2 cup margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the dry ingredients, add milk & mix lightly with a fork to make a stiff dough. Knead 10 seconds on a floured surface then roll out to a 12 x 10 -inch rectangle. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spread dough with 2 tbsp margarine; sprinkle with sugar & cardamom spice.
Spread mango pieces over dough, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Roll up in a jelly roll fashion; cut into 8 slices. Place cut side down in a 9 x 9-inch baking dish, leaving space between rolls. Bake about 20-25 minutes. Reheat syrup glaze until hot then pour over & around pinwheels. Allow to sit for about 5-10 minutes then invert onto serving platter.
- If you prefer more glaze, nothing says you can't double that part. No doubt, they will probably be even better!
In contrast to it’s name, coffeecake usually does not have any coffee in it but is most often served with coffee. This is a cake that was not invented by a pastry chef but rather evolved from a variety of different types of cakes. Said to have had it’s origin in Europe, coffeecake became famous in Germany, Scandinavia and Portugal. The Scandinavians were advocates of the coffee break and desired something sweet with their coffee, thus contributed to the evolution of this tasty cake.
By 1879, coffeecakes had become well known in America and became common place to most households. As time passed, the original recipe was being prepared with cheese, yogurt, sugared fruits, nuts and spices. The most preferred baking pan for this cake is the ‘bundt pan’. The hole in the center of the pan allows heavier batters to become cooked all the way through without any dough being left unbaked in the center.
Sour Cream Coffee Cake, sometimes called Russian Coffeecake, is one of the most delicious and poplar of all versions. Due to the fact that this dense cake is not overly sweet makes it ideal for breakfast, brunch, snacks as well as other informal occasions. The lactic acid in the sour cream results in a tender crumb as well as keeping the cake fresh longer while the fat contributes to the flavor and moistness. The slight tang of the sour cream underscores the velvety, buttery cake. With the batter being rather thick, it will support a heavy filling or streusel.
This is a cake with limitless possibilities. Personalize it to suit the occasion with fillings such as Apple Nut, Brown Sugar & Nuts, Cranberry Orange, Date or Fig. Of course, instead of a glaze you can always put some streusel in the bundt pan first, giving it a glorious look and taste when baked and inverted on a serving plate.
Today’s recipe combines the use of sour cream and cream cheese. The aroma when it comes out of the oven is heavenly not to mention the taste later.
In a small bowl, combine cream cheese with apricot preserve until smooth; set aside.
If using streusel on top or inside, combine streusel ingredients well; set aside.
Preheat oven to 325 F. Lightly butter & flour a 12-cup bundt cake pan.
In a large bowl, beat sugar, margarine, vanilla & eggs at medium speed for 2 minutes. In another bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt; fold into creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. Beat on low speed for another minute.
Spread 1/3 of the batter in pan; spread with 1/2 of the filling. Repeat 2 times. Bake 45 minutes or until tests done with a wooden pick. Remove from oven to a wire rack; cool for 20 minutes. Combine glaze ingredients while cake is cooling. Invert bundt pan onto serving plate & drizzle with glaze.
- If you choose to use streusel, after buttering & flouring the pan, sprinkle streusel in the bottom which will essentially become the top of cake.
- Or place some streusel on the bottom of pan & sprinkle some over each layer of filling.
Childhood memories particularly play a role in how we regard food. Foods from our formative years and special occasions can become a very emotional experience, bringing us ‘back home’ to one’s beginnings.
Kase Knepfla is one of those foods for me. The name translates as ‘cheese buttons’ (kase = cheese, knopf = buttons). I have read somewhere, they were probably a version of the Ukrainian ‘vareniki’ that German immigrants developed to suit their own tastes.
To make them you need dry curd cottage cheese. I recall my mother making her own cottage cheese on the back ‘burner’ of our old wood/coal burning stove. Of course, this not being to interesting to a ‘kid’, I really never gave it any thought. It seemed that the milk was put in a certain place on the stove so it wouldn’t get too hot or it would become stringy as it turned to ‘cheese’.
Similar to a perogy, cheese buttons are made of a tender noodle dough. The dough is rolled out thinly and either cut into squares or circles, filled with a cottage cheese mixture, boiled then briefly browned in butter. I have noticed, in looking at numerous kase knepfla recipes, the cottage cheese filling is made with onions, salt and pepper. The only kind that I can remember my mother making was slightly sweet with a touch of cinnamon. No doubt, this was a version my parents grew up with themselves. Nevertheless, I am trying to preserve history one post at a time’….
Traditionally kase knepfla was served with summer sausage and beet pickles. For our meal, I paired them with some homemade pork sausage medallions, squash and fresh broccoli. We loved it!
Kase Knepfla - Cheese Buttons
In a bowl, mix ingredients into a smooth dough, cover and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
In a bowl, combine dry cottage cheese, egg, sugar, cinnamon & salt. Filling should be thick enough to hold its shape in a spoon.
To make Kase Knepfla
Roll dough quite thin on a floured surface. Using a small scoop, place balls of filling along one end of dough about 2 inches up from outside edge. Fold dough over filling; using a small round cutter ( or small glass) cut out kase knepfla. If edges aren't sealed, just pinch as needed.
Continue until all the filling & dough are used. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop 'buttons' carefully into water & boil slowly for about 5 minutes. Kase knepfla should float when cooked. Drain. I a large saucepan, melt some butter; add buttons, making sure to have only one layer. Brown lightly on both sides.