RHUBARB UPSIDE-DOWN BROWN SUGAR CAKE

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This unprepossessing plant.  So humble in origin.  A grow anywhere especially in back lanes plant.  This long awaited harbinger of spring type of plant.  This new darling of avant-garde young chefs.  This wonderful rhubarb is the upside-down topping on the most delicious of brown sugar cakes.

I discovered this scrumptious recipe in a new cook-book by one of my favorite cook-book authors – Doris Greenspan – “Baking Chez Moi”.    It is perfection on its own as a snacking cake or one could lavish it with whipped cream or crème fraíche.   Add a few very ripe strawberries and it would be a spectacular finish to a meal.

This is an easy recipe to put together.  You don’t use a stand mixer – just your favorite balloon whisk.    The cake stays moist and delectable for up to three days.  Simply keep it covered at room temperature.

The original recipe calls for fresh rhubarb but you can also use frozen rhubarb.  Just be sure to allow time for your frozen rhubarb to defrost and drain (gently pressing on the stalks to help remove the moisture.

 

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RHUBARB UPSIDE-DOWN BROWN SUGAR CAKE
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: Baking
Cuisine: French
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: 8
An easy and quick cake perfect for brunch or afternoon tea. It tastes even better the next day. A perfect cake for the week-end
Ingredients
  • RHUBARB TOPPING
  • About 1¼ to 1½ pounds rhubarb trimmed and rinsed
  • ¾ cup (150) sugar (1/2 cup for rhubarb, ¼ cup for caramelizing)
  • 1½ tbsp (3333/4 oz;21 grams) unsalted butter
  • FOR THE CAKE
  • 1 cup (136 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 3 large eggs room temperature
  • ¾ cup (150 grams) packed light brown sugar
  • finely grated zest of 1 orange(optional)
  • 1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tbsp (4 0z; 113 grams)unsalted butter,melted and cooled
  • FOR THE GLAZE (OPTIONAL)
  • left over rhubarb syrup
  • strawberry jam
Instructions
  1. RHUBARB TOPPING
  2. If your rhubarb is not young and thin peel it. Cut the stalks into 1 inch lengths and toss them with ½ cup sugar and set aside for 30 minutes.
  3. Drain the rhubarb and reserve the syrup to make the glaze.
  4. Butter a 9 inch round cake pan with sides at least 1½ high.
  5. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat then stir in the sugar.
  6. When the sugar has melted and is JUST changing colour add the rhubarb.
  7. Stir sparingly for about 3 minutes or until the sugar is slightly caramelized.
  8. Scrape the rhubarb and syrup into the cake pan and leave to cool.
  9. TO MAKE THE CAKE
  10. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  11. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl,
  12. In a large bowl whisk the eggs and brown sugar together until thick and smooth.
  13. Whisk in the zest and vanilla.
  14. Pour in the butter in 3 additions. Whisk well.
  15. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions whisking gently.
  16. Scrape the batter into the pan over the rhubarb and put the pan onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
  17. Bake the cake for about 25 minutes, rotating it after 12 minutes.
  18. Bake until it is golden brown, springy to the touch and just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  19. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let rest for about 2 minutes, then run a table knife around the sides of the cake.
  20. Place the serving plate over the cake and turn the cake over onto the platter.
  21. Wait for a minute then lift off the pan.
  22. THE GLAZE (OPTIONAL)
  23. Bring the reserved rhubarb syrup to a boil then reduce to a simmer until it reduces and becomes syrupy.
  24. Add a few spoonfuls of strawberry jam and stir well.
  25. Gently spoon the glaze over the top of the cake.
  26. USING FROZEN RHUBARB
  27. Put the desired amount of frozen rhubarb into a colander and let defrost and drain over a bowl.
  28. Discard the liquid.
  29. In a large bowl gently toss the rhubarb with ½ cup of sugar.

 

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ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND LEEK SOUP WITH CHEDDAR CROSTINI

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I feel very strongly about soup.  Soup satisfies the body and the soul.   There is simply nothing more wonderful then enjoying a beautiful bowl of home-made soup.  For me the benchmark of good cooks and  good restaurants is the quality of their soup.  Soup should be treated with great respect.  It should be lovingly and carefully prepared.  The ingredients carefully chosen then prepared and cooked to absolute perfection.

The basis of most soups is the stock.  It should be home-made.  There are some exceptions.  House-made stock from a fresh food supplier is a good substitute.   This soup recipe calls for home-made chicken stock.  When you buy chicken stock in cans or vacuum packages you are buying flavoured water.  You should be able to reduce a good chicken stock down so that it becomes  thick and syrupy.  Try reducing the canned or packaged chicken down and you will be left with nothing but flavoured powder.

Roasting cauliflower changes this plain Jan white vegetable into something so deeply flavoured, so rich and wonderful you’ll find yourself stealing a few florets to nibble as you prepare the soup.  Don’t be afraid to let the cauliflower turn a very deep golden colour.

For a vegetarian version of this soup substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock.

This soup has a hands-on time of just 30 minutes to prepare.  Add a tossed salad and your dinner is on the table before you can finish a glass of wine.    Bon Appetit by friends.

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND LEEK SOUP WITH CHEDDAR CROSTINI
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: soup
Cuisine: lunch or supper
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: 6
Roasting the cauliflower gives this soup a deep golden colour and a rich flavour.
Ingredients
  • 1 head cauliflower cut into 2-inch florets (about 8 cups)
  • 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 large leeks (white and light green parts only), halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise
  • l large onion chopped
  • 3 cloves(about 2 tbsp) minced garlic
  • 4 cups rich home made chicken stock
  • 1½ cups water
  • ¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1¼ cups shredded old Cheddar cheese
  • CHEDDAR CROSTINI:
  • ¾ cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 16 sliced sliced baguettes
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • pinch of Hungarian paprika
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425F. (220C)
  2. Spread cauliflower on rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with the oil. Toss the cauliflower to cover it with oil.
  3. Roast turning occasionally until deep golden, about 45 minutes. The darker the cauliflower the richer the taste of the soup.
  4. Meanwhile melt butter(add a little olive oil if necessary) in a skillet over medium heat and add the onions, leeks and garlic and sprinkle with a little salt. Sprinkling onions when you are sauteing them releases moisture and flavour.
  5. Saute until the leeks and onions are softened, about 6 minutes.
  6. Transfer the leeks, onions, garlic and cauliflower into a large sauce pan and add the chicken stock, water, salt and pepper.
  7. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are very tender.
  8. Off the heat use a hand held blender and puree the mixture.
  9. Return to the heat and on medium-low add the Cheddar cheese and mustard. Simmer until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes.
  10. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  11. CHEDDAR CROSTINI:
  12. Mix Cheddar cheese with parsley.
  13. Spread mustard over baguette slices and top with cheese mixture.
  14. Bake on parchment paper-lined baking sheet in 425F (220C) oven until cheese is melted and bread is golden, about 8 minutes.
  15. Serve with the soup

 

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ULTIMATE BLUE RIBBON BANANA BREAD

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I made my first banana bread just after the second world war.  Bananas disappeared from the produce shelves during the war.   Rationing, torpedoed cargo ships and ships used for troop transport meant that many food items were simply not available.

My first banana loaf contained no walnuts.  They were still rationed.  The recipe was rather frugal with a limited amount of sugar and butter. However to me the flavour was wonderfully exotic and I pretended those brown specks were nuts.

Through the years I baked many variations of banana bread;  coconut banana, banana prune, banana chocolate chip and so on.  They were all good but not great.  Hundreds of banana breads later I declare this is the Blue Ribbon Winner.  It is rich with butter and eggs.  Deeply flavoured with brown sugar and a smidge of cinnamon.  It is extravagantly studded with walnuts, and has a delicate crumb.

ULTIMATE BLUE RIBBON BANANA BREAD
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: quick bread
Cuisine: baking
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: 10
A richly flavoured banana loaf generously studded with walnuts with just a touch of cinnamon.
Ingredients
  • 2¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp taking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 3 ripe bananas mashed
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups walnuts coarsely chopped
Instructions
  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder,cinnamon and salt; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl stir together bananas, buttermilk, vanilla and baking soda. Let stand for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Using a stand mixer whip butter with brown sugar until well combined.
  4. Beat in eggs, one by one.
  5. Then beat in the banana mixture until combined.
  6. Add the flour mixture all at once and stir just until combined.
  7. Stir in the walnuts until just combined.
  8. Pour into a grease 9 x 5-inch (2 L) loaf pan. ( Do not use a smaller sized loaf pan.)
  9. Bake in a 325F oven until cake tester inserted into centre comes out clean, 60 to 70 minutes.
  10. Let cool in pan on rack for 15 minutes.
  11. Turn out onto rack; let cool completely.

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Posted in Breads, Breakfast and Brunch, Desserts, Desserts and sweets | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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PANETTONE…CHRISTMAS BREAKFAST BREAD

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