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The Best Rhubarb Crumble?

It all began with a desperate search for rhubarb last week. Apparently other Philadelphians were also on the hunt for rhubarb because it was selling out everywhere. After two days and four locations, I finally secured my rhubarb at Reading Terminal Market.

I decided to make a rhubarb crumble as a special mid-week dessert. Most of my baking has been sub par to date so I generally go into each new baking experience with my hands over my eyes. I think it is the lingering effects of post traumatic stress syndrome from my mother’s kitchen where baking attempts were typically followed by anxiety attacks.  Hence,  my confidence in the baking department is low. But I persevere – regardless of what obstacles may cross my path!

The recipe was easy enough and the crumble looked great. But then I make a fatal mistake. I leave the room and allow my husband to “warm up the crumble” for us (his idea). I return to a loud crack. to find my crumble (in its baking dish) cracked into three pieces over an open flame. My heart sunk. Then my husband’s eyes popped in fear. Yeah I wasn’t happy. Crumble was destroyed as was my favorite pie dish. I’m not sure if it was out of regret or hunger – but Ryan still helped himself to surviving bits of crumble before the whole thing ended up in the dumpster. He said it was great – but really what was he going to say?

So I’d love to end this blog post with a photo of the evidence, but my bad luck continues and my week’s worth of cooking photos are being held captive by our digital camera right now. But don’t worry, Ryan said he will take care of it!

Enjoy the recipe anyway. It’s adapted from Smitten Kitchen and you usually can’t go wrong with anything that comes from that kitchen blog. She doesn’t have mother/kitchen issues like some people.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble

Yields 6 to 8 servings.

For the topping:

  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Demerara sugar (or turbinado sugar aka Sugar in the Raw)
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 2 cups rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons cornstarch or flour
  • Pinch of salt

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Prepare topping: In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugars and lemon zest and add the melted butter. Mix until small and large clumps form. Refrigerate until needed.

2. Prepare filling: Toss rhubarb lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch and a pinch of salt in a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. (I used an oval dish this time, because they fit better in the bottom of a shopping bag.)

3. Remove topping from refrigerator and cover fruit thickly and evenly with topping. Place pie plate on a (foil-lined, if you really want to think ahead) baking sheet, and bake until crumble topping is golden brown in places and fruit is bubbling beneath, about 40 to 50 minutes.

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Spring Leeks, Scallops and a Sunday

After all my talk about how hot it had become in Philadelphia, we were treated to much cooler weather this weekend. On Saturday, we headed over to Northern Liberties to support a local food bloggers bake sale and the farmers market at the Piazza. During our travels, we ended up checking out some open houses for fun and stopping by our favorite NoLib spot – Honey Sit & Eat.

I picked up a beautiful bunch of leeks at the farmers market and decided to top off the weekend with one of Ryan’s all-time favorites – scallops. Scallops and leeks are a perfect marriage for Springtime — even if the temps are in the 50s today! My husband claimed that this is one of the very best meals I’ve ever made. In fact, he went as far to say “if I have a stroke I want you to feed this to me to bring me back.”

Leeks are a root vegetable and have a more subtle and sweet flavor compared to garlic and onion. Locally grown leeks can finally be found at your local farmers market or at the Fair Food Farmstand in the Reading Terminal Market.

Note: The scallop and leeks recipe serves two, but I always make a big batch of polenta for leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. I served the meal with a baguette and some Montegrappa cheese from Italy. (Will add pics of the final result once my camera stops holding them hostage).

Seared Scallops & Leeks with Cheesey Polenta (for two)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pounds jumbo sea scallops
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3  medium leeks (white and light green parts), quartered lengthwise and rinsed well
  • 1  lemon, cut into wedges (optional)
     

Directions
1. Rinse the scallops and pat them dry with paper towels. Season them with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallops and cook until golden brown and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
3. Wipe out skillet and return to medium-low heat. Add the remaining oil and the leeks and toss. Cover and cook, turning occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Season with the remaining salt and pepper.
4. Return the scallops to skillet to rewarm.  Squeeze lemon juice over top and serve over cheesey polenta (below).

Creamy Cheesey Polenta

  • 4 cups water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup medium-grain yellow polenta
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Heat water lightly seasoned with salt to a boil over high heat, about 5 minutes. Quickly whisk in the polenta until fully incorporated. Lower the heat to a low simmer, add the butter and allow the polenta to cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Finish by stirring in the cheese and salt to taste.

The Hangover Salad

It was a good weekend. Probably too good. My husband hosted a bachelor party for one of his friends and I spent the weekend with my family. From too much beer (him) to too many cupcakes (me), tonight’s dinner definitely calls for  salad. I loathe boring salads so I’m always trying to find a good one. So whether it is a sugar hangover or a beer one, this is a nice way to start a new week.

About a year ago, we had dinner at my friend Jill’s house and she served a Strawberry Spinach salad that my husband fell in love with. He talked about this salad for a week. It certainly didn’t hurt that he/we are in love with Jill’s house. Everything tastes better there. It reminds me of Hope and Michael Steadman’s house in Thirtysomething. We really want to live in this house, but can’t figure out to displace Jill, her husband, and her two adorable girls. Now they have a dog so we would really just feel bad about the whole thing. Guess we will have to keep looking…

P.S. — The secret to the salad is the dressing.

Jill’s Strawberry Spinach Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 bag fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 quart fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup pecans (Jill uses “pecan pie” pecans from Emerald)
  • 1 cup feta cheese
  • 1 cup craisins
  • Brianna’s homestyle poppyseed dressing

Directions

1) Wash spinach, remove stems and put into salad bowl.
2) Wash and dice strawberries; add to bowl.
3) Add pecans.
4) Add feta cheese.
5) Add craisins.
6) Toss in Brianna’s poppyseed dressing and enjoy!

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