I pity the fool

I researched a variety of rhubarb recipes this week to decide what to do with the remainder of my bounty and opted to try something entirely new to my food repertoire: a fool.  I had heard of this dessert before but did a little research and discovered it involves pureed fruit and whipped cream and that it originated in England back in the 17th century.  Huh.  Must be something to it if people are still eating it four centuries later!

It’s super simple to make.  You start by boiling chopped up rhubarb, honey, orange zest, orange juice, a vanilla bean, and candied ginger.  Then you whip up some heavy cream with a little sugar and blend the two together.

 This lovely mixture then gets spooned into individual serving dishes (I used ramekins, but it would be lovely to serve in fancy glass coffee cups or the like) and chill.  This is totally one of those recipes that seems like it took a lot of time to make but it totally didn’t.  I could see it being majorly impressive at your next dinner party.  And you could make it with a variety of fruits.  Impress away!

Rhubarb Fool (from www.epicurious.com)

  • 1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and sliced 1/2 inch thick (about 4 cups or 1 pound prepped)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

To make the fool, put the rhubarb, honey, orange zest and juice, candied ginger, vanilla bean, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine, then cover and cook, stirring every few minutes, for 10 minutes, until the mixture has come to a boil and the rhubarb has softened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then remove the vanilla bean. Transfer the compote to a bowl, and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes, until very cold.

Whip the cream and sugar until soft peaks form, either by hand or using an electric mixer on medium speed. Set aside 1/3 cup of the compote to garnish the dessert, then fold the remaining compote into the whipped cream. Spoon the fool into six 1/2-cup glasses or dishes and chill for 1 hour before serving topped with the remaining compote.

Storage: This fool is best served the day it is made, but any leftovers can be covered with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

rhubarb bonanza

Rhubarb!  A coworker of mine gave me a generous bunch of it last week along with a few recipes so I am going to share the wealth here with you. 

I must admit that even though I have sampled my share of rhubarb pie and rhubarb cake over the years I have never actually done anything with it.  Shameful!  It is so plentiful this time of year and so delicious, not to mention so easy to work with that there is really no excuse for not baking it into everything you possibly can.  Today I opted to bake a pie with it. 

Every pie starts with a crust.  I chose a simple and classic crust from my mom’s 1973 version of the Betty Crocker cookbook with pages that are stained and yellowed and falling out, but  it still works.  Only 4 ingredients in this crust: flour, canola oil, dash of salt, and water.  So easy!  No need to ever buy one of those pre-baked crusts when it can be done so easily (and cheaply) at home.

Once you get the crust rolled out and in the pie pan put in the refrigerator until you are ready to fill it.

Meanwhile, mix up an egg with sugar and flour for the filling.  That’s it.  Easy again!  Then add some of that beautiful chopped rhubarb to it.

Now you are ready to put this deliciousness into the pie shell.  But you’re not quite done yet… there is more deliciousness to put on top! 

A little brown sugar, flour, and butter, because as I often say: butter makes everything better.

The finished product was a big hit at the Memorial Day cookout I attended this afternoon. 

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

Rhubarb Crisp Pie

  • 2 cups cleaned rhubarb cut in ½ inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Beat 3/4 cup white sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and 1 egg until creamy.  Stir in rhubarb and pour mixture into pie shell (see recipe below).

Mix ½ cup brown sugar, remaining 2 tablespoons flour, and 2 tablespoons butter with fork.  Pour over top of pie.  Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.

One Crust Pie Shell (from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook)

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Measure flour and salt into bowl.  Add oil; mix until particles are size of small peas.  Sprinkle in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, adding until flour is moistened and dough almost cleans side of bowl.  (If dough seems dry, 1 to 2 tablespoons oil can be added.  Do not add water.)  Gather dough together and press firmly into ball.

Shape dough into flattened round.  Place flattened round between two 15-inch strips of waxed paper.

Roll pastry 2 inches larger than inverted pie pan.  Peel off top paper.  Place pastry, paper side up, in pan.  Peel off paper.  Ease pastry loosely into pan.

My Aunt Sarah’s banana bread

In honor of Mother’s Day I thought I would bake a recipe of a favorite mother in my life– in this case, my Aunt Sarah’s banana bread.  In hindsight perhaps I should have made one of my own mother’s recipes but I had two ripe bananas in my freezer just begging to be baked into bread so that was the deciding factor.  I know my mom will understand.

I like to have bananas with breakfast but I sometimes buy too many and can’t eat them all before they go bad.  Fortunately they freeze very well so are easy to tuck away until you are ready to add them to smoothies or baked goods so they don’t have to go to waste.  I hate wasting food.

My aunt’s recipe calls for shortening but I only had about a tablespoon left thanks to a certain houseguest who has a habit of leaving small amounts of things behind after cooking and baking with them, but never fear– I always seem to have plenty of butter on hand so substituted that instead.  And it came out just fine.

The flowers on the table are in honor of you Mom…

An hour or so in a 250 degree oven and you get this:

The note my aunt included with the recipe when she emailed it to me years ago said that the best way to enjoy the bread is with butter while it is still warm.  My aunt is a very smart lady.

Happy Mother’s Day to all my favorite mother’s out there!

Aunt Sarah’s Banana Bread

  • ½ cup shortening or butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees.  Butter and lightly flour bread pan (I suggest using glass pans as the bread cooks more evenly in glass) and set aside.

Beat shortening and sugar with mixer and then add eggs and beat well.  Add mashed bananas and beat until combined.

To this mixture add baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour.  Stir until well blended.

Put mixture into prepared bread pan and bake for about an hour or just until the top springs back.  (Note: I find that somewhere between an hour and ten minutes and an hour and twenty minutes is about right.  I have both under- and over-baked this bread before as there is a fine line between the two.  It’s best to keep an eye on the bread after an hour of baking and put back in oven for five-minute intervals as needed to finish baking.)

Let bread cool on rack for ten minutes.  Use knife to gently loosen sides of bread from pan and invert over cooling rack to finish cooling.  While the bread is still slightly warm put in plastic bag or wrap with foil or plastic wrap as the heat will help soften and sweeten the bread.