The Bandwagon

If you scanned through all the recipes on this blog, paying particular attention to the recipes adapted from various sources (which is most of them), you’d quickly notice that most of them are from magazines. Occasionally, you’ll find one from a website, such as someone’s blog, and you’ll also come across a few from cookbooks.

You see, I get really into my magazines and recipe clippings. They’re easily portable and perusable, and I often use said clippings to figure out what I’m cooking in the week ahead – I grab my stack of clippings, pull out a few for the week, and that’s that. Going through cookbooks seems a bit cumbersome, and the blog recipes I have bookmarked just sit there on my computer as, well, bookmarks.

But every once and a while, I get really really focused on a good cookbook. I become that girl, sitting on the bus reading recipes, staring at pictures of food, and dog-earing page after page. Meanwhile, every one else on the bus is either sleeping, yelling loudly into their cell phones, or eating cheesy hot fries (that’s not a joke, people; the bus-riders love their cheesy hot fries). Recently, this cookbook fixation has happened exactly twice.

One of them, the source of these cutie-patuty tarts you see here, is Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain. The other, I’ll get to later, as it’s chock full of meat that I promised myself I wouldn’t eat this month (because I have a few loose screws, I’ve decided). And it’s a HUGE book that I lugged around town, clutching it closely to my chest like a loveletter from my first boyfriend. I promise, later.

This one though, I’ve managed to read through every last page. I started bookmarking recipes, and I quickly realized it wasn’t necessary, as I’d tagged almost every page, every recipe. The 75 recipes, primarily of the dessert/baking genre, are sorted by grain – with chapters devoted to buckwheat, whole wheat, quinoa, rye, even corn and 7 others. Each chapter of recipes is preceded by a thorough, but fascinating, description of the flour, the origin, the taste, the affinities to other flours and foods. It is educational, but intriguing. Thorough, but concise. And  innovative, but totally approachable.

And by now, if you read as many food blogs as I do, you might even be a little bit tired of hearing about this treasure of a book. So with that, I’ll stop – and finish by saying that this is actually the 4th recipe I’ve made from Good to the Grain. Why haven’t I waxed poetic about it after having it atop my fridge (or rather, on my nightstand) for the last 2 months? A simple answer – I actually forgot to take pictures of two of them, and the other will be posted in good time.

These little rhubarb tarts more or less forced themselves upon me, primarily because it’s the cover recipe that glares at me from my nightstand, and because following our first farmers’ market trip, my countertop became a holding place (by holding place, I mean they sat there for exactly 1 hour, if that) for two beautiful bunches of rhubarb. Plus, I couldn’t head over to dinner with friends without bringing something, right? So, here we are.

As one of those friends happened to be Jon, I also needed to make this recipe gluten- and dairy-free. I made both recipes (“his” and “ours”), comparing taste and textures and I must say that, probably thanks to the corn flour and cornmeal, they were eerily similar. In fact, by looks alone, Jennifer incorrectly picked the gf tart – and for those of you cooking gluten-free on a regular basis, you know that many gf dessert recipes are easy to spot when sitting right beside their non gf counterparts.

In fact, the two finished products here are one of each – can you tell which is which?

Don’t you just love rhubarb too? Try this rhubarb crisp if you need something a little simpler. Got any other rhubarb recipes? Share below!

Rustic Rhubarb Tarts
Adapted from Good to the Grain; makes 10 tarts

printable version

ingredients
compote
2 lbs rhubarb
1 1/4 c brown sugar
1 T dried hibiscus leaves (optional; can also try vanilla, ginger, etc)

dry mix
1 c corn flour
1 c all purpose flour
1/2 c fine cornmeal
1/4 c + 2 T sugar
1 t kosher salt

wet mix
4 oz cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1/4 c + 2 T half & half
2 egg yolks

special ingredients: cheesecloth or tea ball, if using hibiscus; preferably a stand mixer or food processor, although dough can be made by hand or with a pastry cutter, if needed (as long as there is available elbow grease…).

instructions
make compote. rinse rhubarb and trim ends. cut into 3/4-inch chunks. dump 1/2 of rhubarb into bottom of heavy pot. place hibiscus leaves into tea ball or cheesecloth, and add with brown sugar to rhubarb. stir, cover, and turn heat to med-low. cook 15 minutes, covered. remove cover and increase heat to medium; cook 15-17 minutes until rhubarb is broken down. add remaining half of rhubarb to mix and stir to combine. remove hibiscus and pour compote onto large baking sheet to cool. makes ~ 3 cups (will have leftover that’s great on toast!).

to make tarts, combine dry ingredients in bowl of stand mixer; whisk together. with stand mixer with paddle attachment, add butter and turn mixer to low to incorporate. turn to medium and mix until mixture resembles cornmeal. add half & half and egg yolks, mix until combined. dough will be slightly crumbly but sticks together when pressed (like pie dough).

to shape tarts, divide dough into 10 equal pieces. on a lightly floured surface, working with one piece at a time, smash dough with hands into a rough circle, about 5 inches diameter. spoon 3 T of rhubarb compote in center of disc. fold edge of dough toward compote and up, to close tart. continue all the way around (if this doesn’t work well, you can sort of crimp however you want – notice these here are not elegant at all…).

line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (they will be going into your freezer, so if you have a lame freezer like me, you can instead place these on parchment-lined plates). slide spatula or bench scraper underneath and place on baking sheet or plate. freeze for 1 hour, at least (can keep frozen, unbaked, for another couple of weeks if needed, but wrap in plastic or place in freezer bags).

preheat oven to 375 F. transfer tarts to baking sheets (or remove sheets from freezer and place directly in oven). bake for 35 minutes, until edges brown and compote bubbles.

Gluten/Dairy-Free Rustic Rhubarb Tarts
Adapted from Good to the Grain; makes 10 tarts

printable version

ingredients
compote
2 lbs rhubarb
1 1/4 c brown sugar
1 T dried hibiscus leaves (optional; can also try vanilla, ginger, etc)

dry mix
1 c corn flour
1/2 c sweet rice flour
1/4 c sorghum flour
1/4 c potato starch
1/2 c fine cornmeal
1/4 c + 2 T sugar
1 t kosher salt

wet mix
4 oz cold shortening, cut into small chunks
1/4 c + 2 T vanilla hemp milk
2 egg yolks

special ingredients: cheesecloth or tea ball, if using hibiscus; preferably a stand mixer or food processor, although dough can be made by hand or with a pastry cutter, if needed (as long as there is available elbow grease…).

instructions
make compote. rinse rhubarb and trim ends. cut into 3/4-inch chunks. dump 1/2 of rhubarb into bottom of heavy pot. place hibiscus leaves into tea ball or cheesecloth, and add with brown sugar to rhubarb. stir, cover, and turn heat to med-low. cook 15 minutes, covered. remove cover and increase heat to medium; cook 15-17 minutes until rhubarb is broken down. add remaining half of rhubarb to mix and stir to combine. remove hibiscus and pour compote onto large baking sheet to cool. makes ~ 3 cups (will have leftover that’s great on toast!).

to make tarts, combine dry ingredients in bowl of stand mixer; whisk together. with stand mixer with paddle attachment, add shortening and turn mixer to low to incorporate. turn to medium and mix until mixture resembles cornmeal. add hemp milk and egg yolks, mix until combined. dough will be slightly crumbly but sticks together when pressed (like pie dough).

to shape tarts, divide dough into 10 equal pieces. on a lightly floured surface, working with one piece at a time, smash dough with hands into a rough circle, about 5 inches diameter. spoon 3 T of rhubarb compote in center of disc. fold edge of dough toward compote and up, to close tart. continue all the way around (if this doesn’t work well, you can sort of crimp however you want – notice these here are not elegant at all…).

line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (they will be going into your freezer, so if you have a lame freezer like me, you can instead place these on parchment-lined plates). slide spatula or bench scraper underneath and place on baking sheet or plate. freeze for 1 hour, at least (can keep frozen, unbaked, for another couple of weeks if needed, but wrap in plastic or place in freezer bags).

preheat oven to 375 F. transfer tarts to baking sheets (or remove sheets from freezer and place directly in oven). bake for 35 minutes, until edges brown and compote bubbles.

Is There Rehab for Rhubarb?

rhubarb crisp
You’ll hear most people, including myself, get pretty excited about various Spring seasonals such as strawberries, asparagus, and even ramps. Yes, I’ve talked (or typed, or typed and talked, rather) about all of those in previous posts. And why shouldn’t I, right? They’re all sublime in their own way. Why, right this second, if you asked me, I could name at least 20 things to make with each of the above. And whether that’s true or not, you’ll never know because you are reading what I’ve already typed, rather than talking directly to me. So there. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

rhubarb


Speaking of smoking, I can think of one thing I’m totally cracked-out on. Well, one thing for today at least, as every day brings about a new addiction (in food terms only, most definitely. Although..now that I think about it, I am also addicted to things like vacations, sunshine, blogging and so on). And today that one thing is rhubarb. Yup, I said it. Rhu-barb. Oh yummers. If I hadn’t already cooked with it for two weekends straight, I’d re-consider it as the secret ingredient for the upcoming Iron Chef Battle. But I’ve already got that under wraps, and I’m not changin’ it no matter what. Plus, I like having these little nuggets to myself (or at least, for the two of us). Next time, I’ll buy more and freeze them. I’ve recently eliminated freezer space by eating the rest of some tasty pulled pork this week that a special someone sent me for my birthday. Move over piggies, it’s time for rhubarb!!


The first time I ever bought rhubarb was last year around this time. Kris & Jon came to visit for the weekend, and we stayed in for dinner one night. And while I can’t for the life of me remember what we had for dinner, I know I made a strawberry-rhubarb crisp that we all ate on for the whole night. Meaning, between each hand of spades, hearts, or whatever card game we were playing, one of us was in the kitchen wolfing down a bite of that crisp while the others shuffled and dealt. What I also remember was Chris turning his nose up and whining, “I don’t liiiiike rhu-baaaaaaarb.” Well, that crisp sure shut him up! Now if only I could get him to like cucumbers. I also vaguely recall a rhubarb-maple fool that I made for the in-laws’ visit. But before I knew it, rhubarb season was over. I somehow felt cheated – as if I were punished for discovering rhubarb 28 years into my life. Better late than never, right? I mean, give a girl a break! That being said, I’ve been waiting for it [the new rhubarb season] ever since.


crisp mixture

And so this time, I’ve made a point to buy these pretty in pink rods during both weekend trips to the Green City Market. The strawberries were slim pickin’s by the time we made it there last week, so instead I made a crisp with rhubarb & apple which was super scrumptitious. The apples were nice and crunchy and the rhubarb just melted in your mouth. I don’t know that I’d pair rhubarb with granny smiths, but most any other apple variety will probably do – just not the tart ones unless you enjoy that scrunched up look on your face. I don’t.


For my bunch o’ rhubarb from this past weekend, I did have strawberries and whipped up some strawberry-rhubarb frozen yogurt. Next week though, I just don’t know what I’m gonna make. I’m thinking I might get some jars and stock up on preserves, or maybe make a tart although I’m a little tart-ed out, which should come as no surprise.


What do you think? Ya got any bright ideas over there?!


Rhubarb-Apple Crisp
Liberally adapted from various crisp recipes; Serves 6


printable recipe

ingredients
Filling
1 lb rhubarb, cut into 1″ pieces
2 Fuji apples, cored and diced
3 T tapioca
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
2/3 c granulated sugar
1 T orange zest
2 T orange juice

Topping
2/3 c all purpose flour*
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1/2 c regular oats*
1/2 t cinnamon
dash of salt
6 T unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes**

instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients for filling into medium bowl. Let sit 15 minutes. Pour into 13×9 baking dish.
  2. Preheat oven to 375
  3. Combine all ingredients for topping except butter. Cut in butter (with hands or pastry blender) until crumbly. Sprinkle topping over filling.
  4. Bake ~30 minutes. Let sit 10 before serving.


*You can easily turn this into a gluten-free dessert by using gluten-free oats and gluten-free flour. Since you’re not using the flour to develop gluten, you won’t need other additives such as guar gum or xantham gum. Most Whole Foods stores stock both of these products, but they can also be ordered online.

**You can also make this as a dairy-free dessert by using margarine (many brands are dairy-free) or the Smart Balance spreads. I’d recommend the Smart Balance Lite over margarine any day. I’ve also heard Earth Balance brand is a good non-dairy substitute.