Sour Cream Rhubarb Crostada

I remember the first time I heard of sour cream being used in making a rhubarb pie. I could hardly imagine it but once I tried it there was no going back! If you look through some of the older recipe books, there are at least eight or nine different pies made using sour cream. These nostalgic desserts certainly take you back to a simpler time.

Basically this is your classic rhubarb pie except with a sweet/sour cream, custard filling. The sour cream is not assertive; its presence simply provides a rich, creamy background for the rhubarb.

I’m not sure why, but I never get tired of cooking (or eating) rhubarb. Every season, I can’t wait until its ready to use. Last year, Brion and I found another spot for three new plants to grow in our yard, so hopefully they do well. I realize its not for everyone but it is certainly versatile in its uses.

For this rhubarb crostada, I’m using an spiced-oat streusal topping which almost mimics a baked fruit crumble taste. Serving this dessert chilled brings it to its full potential. Of course, when you add a scoop of ice cream!

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Sour Cream Rhubarb Crostada
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Course Brunch, dessert
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Cornmeal Pastry (OR use purchased refrigerated pastry if you wish)
Course Brunch, dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Cornmeal Pastry (OR use purchased refrigerated pastry if you wish)
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Instructions
Cornmeal Pastry
  1. In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using your fingertips, cut in the butter until mixture resembles BOTH coarse crumbs & small peas. Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over dough, 1 Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it. After you have added all the liquid mixture, dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed. Do NOT over work pastry. Press dough into a disk shape; wrap in plastic wrap & refrigerate until ready to use.
Spiced-Oat Topping
  1. In a bowl, combine all topping ingredients with fingertips until crumbly; set aside.
Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a bowl, Mix 1 cup sugar, 3 Tbsp flour, 1 tsp cardamom & orange zest. Stir in slightly beaten eggs & sour cream, add rhubarb; toss gently.
  2. Remove pastry from fridge. Preheat oven to 375 F. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll out pastry into a 12-inch circle. Place pastry in a 9-inch pie pan, leaving parchment paper underneath it. Pour filling into crostada; gently fold the 1/2-inch of pastry remaining above pie pan rim over edge of crostada. Sprinkle spiced-oat topping over filling. Brush pastry edge with egg wash.
  3. Bake 50-60 minutes until edge is puffed, filling is slightly jiggly & topping is golden. Cover loosely with foil if topping begins to brown too much. Cool at least 3 hours before serving. Slice & serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.

Ravioli di Portobello Casserole

I guess its my German heritage that gives that love for anything that resembles a dumpling. Whether sweet or savory doesn’t seem to matter, filling between two thin layers of pasta or dough is just plain good to me.

Around the world, Italian ravioli has many culinary ‘sisters’ in other cultures. Kreplach, in Jewish cuisine, is a pocket of meat filling covered with pasta. In India, the dish Gujiya, has a sweet filling, rather than savory. There are many similarities between Italian ravioli and certain Chinese dumplings as well.

Although ravioli can come in many shapes, including circular and semi-circular, the traditional form is a square. The word ‘ravioli’ comes from the Italian riavvolgere, which means ‘to wrap’.

Not being someone who enjoys to eat ‘out’, its a rare occasion (when we do), for me to be really happy with my meal. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I cooked a lot of ‘commercial’ meals in the food service industry years back. I guess I just got ‘burn out’ to that kind of cooking you might say.

Nevertheless, whenever we have chosen to go to the Olive Garden Restaurant, there is a meal I really do enjoy. It’s called ‘Ravioli di Portobello’. Today, I am re-creating those flavors in a casserole and adding some ground chicken to make it a little more interesting from Brion’s perspective.

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Ravioli di Portobello Casserole
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Course Main Dish
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Instructions
Ravioli Filling
  1. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Saute onion until soft. Add mushrooms & saute for two minutes. Reduce heat & let simmer for 5 minutes or until liquid has evaporated & the mushrooms are fully cooked. Add seasonings. Set aside.
Ravioli Dough
  1. In a bowl, combine dry ingredients with eggs. Add water a little at a time, while stirring, until it forms a soft dough. Dough should be soft but not sticky. Roll out the dough, on a floured surface, into a rectangle that is 1/4-inch thickness. Place 1 teaspoon of filling about an inch apart in even columns & rows to cover half of your dough rectangle.
  2. Before adding the top layer of pasta to the ravioli, moisten the dough around the filling dollops. Carefully fold the dough (without any filling on it) over the half with the filling dollops. Using the side of your hand, press the dough together between the dollops, accentuating the pockets of filling in each ravioli. This is very important step to ensure your ravioli will not leak while cooking.
  3. Using a pastry cutter (or a pizza cutter), cut straight lines through the pressed down sections between the filling dollops. In a large kettle of boiling water, drop ravioli in a few at a time, being careful that they do do touch the kettle. When the raviolis float to the top, boil for one minute & then remove them with a slotted spoon. Keep warm in a covered dish, drizzling a tiny bit of butter or oil over them to prevent sticking until you are ready for them.
Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce
  1. In a skillet, melt butter & saute garlic, seasonings, sun-dried tomatoes for a few minutes. Add chicken broth & half & half; bring to a boil & continue to stir until thickened & creamy about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat, set aside until ready to use in casserole.
Assemble Casserole
  1. In a skillet, brown ground chicken until no longer pink; drain & place in a bowl. Add salt, garlic powder & pepper. In the skillet, melt butter, add onion & zucchini; saute until tender crisp. Stir in sun-dried tomato sauce.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a buttered 9 X 13-inch baking dish, spread 1/4 of sauce, layer 1/2 of the ravioli, another 1/4 of the sauce, half of the chicken & half of the cheese.
  3. Repeat again except OMIT cheese. Cover & bake for 35 minutes. Uncover & sprinkle with remaining cheese. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. If you wish to garnish, chopped green onion & diced tomato are nice.

Norwegian Rhubarb Cake

I have to be honest, I don’t really know a lot about Norwegian cooking as of yet. Since food history is always top priority for me, I seem to find my way into every country at some point. You might have known, another rhubarb recipe would catch my eye.

This one is a very traditional summer cake, more of an everyday cake as opposed to a party cake. It seems Norwegians prefer creamy cakes for parties instead of light fruity ones. Many old Norwegian cookbooks and newspapers featured rhubarb cake on their weekly menus. Nothing fancy or anything that requires an extra step or two. No layers of cream, custard or crumble on top. Just merely a simple and incredibly delicate cake with a bit of tang from the rhubarb.

You don’t need to make these little cakes inverted. If you prefer, place the rhubarb on top of the batter instead. Using pure vanilla gave such amazing flavor and the incredible texture of the cake is provided by the addition of sour cream. I’m sure this recipe has been updated from the original but it is certainly good.

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Norwegian Rhubarb Cake
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Course Brunch, dessert
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Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter bottom & sides of 4 (1-cup) mini bundt cake pans.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together 1 1/4 cups flour, baking powder & salt. In a larger bowl, cream together butter & 3/4 cup sugar for about 2 minutes until light & fluffy. Add eggs & pure vanilla extract; stir to combine.
  3. Alternately stir flour mixture & sour cream into the butter mixture, beginning & ending with the flour mixture, stirring well after each addition. Toss chopped rhubarb with remaining tablespoons of flour & sugar. Divide rhubarb evenly between the 4 mini bundt pans. Top evenly with cake batter
  4. Bake cakes about 20 -25 minutes until golden & a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven & invert on a cooling rack for a few minutes. Remove pans, replacing any of the rhubarb that has stuck to the pans.
  5. Serve warm or cold with whipped topping or just a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

Swiss Easter Rice Tart

With Easter coming up real soon, why not bake something different this year or should I say, different for me. Swiss Rice Tart  has a custard type filling made with rice, eggs, milk, citrusy lemon zest, ground almonds all baked in a sweet, crunchy pastry. Traditionally only served during Easter time in Switzerland, it is a wonderful non-fussy and unusual brunch dish/dessert item.

It took a bit of time to try and learn some history of this Easter specialty. It seems that the first available recipes for a similar tart are from the end of the 16th century. In a cookbook by Anna Wecker, (the first German cookbook to be published by a woman) there was mention of a similar tart. In some of the early recipes, Parmesan cheese was included in the dough but this was abandoned for a sweeter crust. Another version used bread as a starchy filling instead of rice or semolina and the flavoring was rosewater and wine. By the 19th century, the tart, as it is known today, made its way into the rotation of most Swiss bakeries.

The key to getting the right consistency for the filling is to slightly overcook the rice from the beginning as it needs to to become smooth and creamy. The ground almonds, amaretto liqueur and raisins all add richness to the flavor of this ‘rice pudding baked in a crust’.


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Swiss Easter Rice Tart

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Ingredients
Sweet Pastry Crust

Rice Custard Filling

Topping

Servings


Ingredients
Sweet Pastry Crust

Rice Custard Filling

Topping

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Instructions
Pastry
  1. In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, salt & baking powder to blend. Add butter & pulse about 3-4 times, until butter is in pea- size pieces. Sprinkle in the ice water; pulse another 4 times. Turn dough out on a lightly floured work surface & knead gently a few times to form a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap & refrigerate at least an hour.

Custard Filling
  1. In a small bowl, combine amaretto liqueur & raisins & allow to marinate until ready to add to filling.

  2. In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Stir in rice, lower heat to medium & cook until rice is soft & water is absorbed. Add evaporated milk, skim milk, butter, sugar & salt. Bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat to low & add amaretto liqueur ONLY, setting raisins aside.

  3. Simmer until mixture has thickened almost to a 'risotto' consistency, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat & place the saucepan in a bowl of ice water for 10 minutes to cool mixture.

  4. Preheat oven to 350 F. & place oven rack in the lowest position. When cooled, pour rice mixture into a bowl; add lemon zest & raisins. Mix ground almonds with the 1 Tbsp flour & fold into mixture along with eggs.

  5. Press chilled pastry evenly into tart pan. Trim edges flush with pan. Pour filling into pastry dough & bake about 35 minutes, until filling is set & golden. Cool on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar & almond slices (create a design if you wish) before serving.


Recipe Notes
  • This recipe was adapted from a site called cuisine Switzerland.
  • I had used a 10-inch tart pan for mine but there was a small amount of filling left over which had to be baked in a casserole dish.
  • I would suggest using a 10-inch spring form pan instead so the pastry sides could be higher to accommodate the extra filling.

Turkey Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles

Here we are, Christmas with it’s turkey and all the trimmings is just a memory but … there’s always that wonderful turkey soup with some homemade egg noodles.

One thing that was usually plentiful on the farm was eggs. The fact that you only needed yolks for egg noodles, always meant something had to be done with the whites as discarding them was not an option. Probably that’s where ‘angel food’ or ‘daffodil’ cake comes in.

I’m sure my mother never measured her ingredients for egg noodles. She would simply beat the egg yolks, water and salt and add flour, kneading it into a nice smooth, pliable dough. The dough was then divided it into several pieces and shaped into balls. After rolling the balls into circles, they were placed on tea towels to dry for a number of hours. When they were dry, but not stiff, the rounds were placed on top of each other, rolling them up like a jelly roll. She would slice the roll into strips, then unwind by tossing the noodles lightly with her fingers. The noodles would be left to dry until the soup was made and ready to boil them in.

There were so many uses for this economical (but rich) comfort food. I recall my mother would sometimes add the cooked noodles to scrambled eggs. When they were added to soup, I don’t think any of us cared if it contained anything but broth and noodles, they tasted so good.

Hopefully you still have that turkey carcass and a few bones saved to make that flavorful broth needed. A little extra work but worth it!

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Turkey Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles
Undeniably, comfort food at it's best!
Instructions
Egg Noodles
  1. Beat eggs, water & salt with fork until well blended. Add flour & knead on a floured surface until smooth & pliable. Cut into two equal portions & roll out in rounds as thin as you prefer. Place on a tea towel; lay on a flat surface to let dry but not stiff. Place one round on top the other; with a sharp knife, slice noodles to the thickness you prefer. Separate & continue to dry 2-3 hours.
Turkey Broth / Soup
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place turkey carcass & other turkey bones, onion, carrots & garlic on it & bake, uncovered for 1 hour, turning once. Transfer the carcass, bones & vegetables to a large soup kettle. Add 18 cups cold water; set aside. Pour remaining 2 cups cold water into baking pan, stirring to loosen browned bits. Add to kettle. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover & simmer for 3-4 hours.
  2. Cool slightly. Strain broth; discard bones & vegetables. Set soup kettle in ice bath until cooled, stirring occasionally. Cover & refrigerate overnight.
  3. Skim fat from broth. Cover & bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add carrots, celery, cooked turkey, salt, pepper & Herbes de Provence. Simmer until vegetables are tender; add egg noodles. Cook until noodles float to the top of broth. Serve.
Recipe Notes
  • It is nice to make your turkey BROTH a day ahead so it has a chance to cool completely, making it easier to skim fat from broth.
  • If you make your egg noodles a day ahead, dry them thoroughly, place in a tightly covered container & refrigerate until cooking time.
  •  I prefer to use the whole eggs instead of just yolks in my egg noodles -- personal preference only, works either way.