Rhubarb Loaf Cake

rhubarb1Rhubarb has always equal parts intrigued and intimidated me. I would eye the long
beautiful stalks at the market and think, I should really just buy some and learn what the heck you’re supposed to do with them, and then not do that. I would think, I should at least ask someone who knows or read a few recipes, and then not do that either. Every year. I recently wrote about my grandfather and pineapple and how seeing pineapples makes me think of him. Rhubarb does that too. He loved a strawberry rhubarb pie, and because he did, so do I. But I’d never ever tried working with rhubarb myself.

rhubarb2But twice recently I’ve recalled the summer two years ago when my solution for My Tiny Sous Chef’s refusal to look at any vegetable was taking her to the Farmer’s Market and letting her pick any single veggie she wanted, with the only rule being that we would then look up and she could select a recipe, and she had to taste it – not like it – but taste it. And I won the face off over veggies! So I decided to apply that rule to myself, and approached an unfamiliar stall this past weekend at the market. “Tell me about rhubarb,” I said. And she did – lots. She told me I’d never make jam as good as hers, but I could try. And suggested cutting a stalk up into bite-sized bits and sprinkling them with sea salt for a snack (TRY IT!), and then she helped me pick out a pile of beautiful red rhubarb and assured me I would figure the rest out in a snap. And I believed her. And then I started looking at recipes and found something I knew I could make my own. The result was so good that I’m going to use the rest of my rhubarb bounty to make at least two more just this week. IT IS INSANELY DELICIOUS. And light, and sweet but not too sweet, tart but not too tart, and seasonally perfect. Here you go.

* 2C flour
* 1/2t baking powder
* 1/2t baking soda
* 1/2t salt
* 1 stick butter, melted
* 1C sugar
* 2 large eggs
* 1/2C sour cream
* 1/4C milk
* 3 stalks, or about 1 1/2C, diced rhubarb

WHAT TO DOrhubarb3
Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after adding each.

Alternating, add first some of the flour mixture, then some of the milk, then some of the sour cream, mixing well after each addition, and repeating until you’ve added everything and the batter is fully combined. Fold in the diced rhubarb and pour the batter into the loaf pan.

Bake 70 minutes (or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean). Try to save a slice for someone else. I dare you. No, seriously. I dare you not to eat it all.

Crustless Sweet Corn and Multisquash “Pie”

cornsquashpie8I cannot recommend this recipe enough. Oh my YUM. We had this for our Meatless Monday dinner last night, but it would also be a delicious breakfast or brunch dish. You need to put this into your rotation. And before summer fades, don’t you just need to find every last opportunity to max out all the sweet summer eats? I don’t want to waste a single ear of sweet corn. I hope you’re with me on this.

My inspiration for the ultimate “pie” I put on the table last night was this recipe (which, and this will sound familiar, I actually pinned multiple times without realizing!) from Pinch of Yum (isn’t that the best blog name??). I was going to follow this recipe exactly, but then I had a realization, and I slightly changed a few things here and there to come up with mine. I really wanted the little to eat this with us, and mushrooms would likely not go over well, so I left those out. And then, as I was looking at zucchinis at the store, I remembered a deal my little sous chef and I had struck up over the weekend…

So on our walk to the Farmer’s Market in our neighborhood Sunday, I suddenly had an idea to include her in the produce selection and get her excited about trying something new (vegetables?! gasp!) and cooking together during the week. I proposed it with all the enthusiasm in my mommy muscles, and it worked! She carefully considered each stand at the market and was finally convinced to approach one with two younger farm-vendors who were totally taken with her serious evaluation of their goods. They handed her all different kinds of interesting veggies, and she turned away dinosaur kale and radishes (“I already like those!”) and more, before finally getting her little mitts on some beautiful, bright yellow, flying saucer-shaped pattypan squash. NOTE: I did not know what this squash was called before this purchase. Lessons for everyone! She selected three squash and we were on our way.

Back in the kitchen the next day, I was getting all my ingredients out when I realized I had the perfect opportunity to put my plan into action! And it worked like a charm. My little buddy was very excited to get to try her selection so soon. And boy oh boy did it work out. On multiple fronts. So without further ado… here you go.

* 3-4T butter (yes, butter. there’s no crust! allow yourself some good ol’ butter!)
* 3/4 of a yellow onion, diced
* 2 ears sweet corn
* 1 medium zucchini, sliced thin (or two if you are using only zucchini)
* 2 large pattypan squash, halved, and then sliced thin
* 1T dry basil
* 1t dry oregano
* 1/2t salt
* 12oz shredded cheese of your choice (I used a combo of Swiss/Gruyere)
* 3 eggs, beaten
* shaved Parmesan for topping (optional)

You guys. This is SO easy and fast and delicious. I could eat this all day long. Typing it up makes me want to eat it again right now. Anyway… where was I?

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large and deep saute pan over medium heat, melt the butter, and then add the onions, zucchini, and squash.
While those guys are cooking and softening in the pan, carefully cut the corn off of the cob. Now, if you have a method for doing this that does not result in corn kernels on the floor/backsplash/walls/in the dog’s mouth, please advise. As soon as the cobs are clean, add the corn to the pan, mix it through, and saute about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat, then mix in your seasonings: the basil, oregano, and salt. Stir and combine, then add the beaten eggs and the cheese and mix, allowing the cheese to begin to melt into the mixture.

Spray a 9-in. (or larger) pie dish with non-stick spray (I never have parchment paper on-hand, but if you do, use that if you prefer, of course). Carefully spoon your now ooey-gooey mixture into the pie dish, spreading it out so that it smoothly and evenly fills the dish. Arrange some zucchini and squash slices on top, if you can, to make it pretty (I followed that tip from the original recipe and it pays, so I recommend you do the same). Top with a sprinkle of shaved Parmesan.

Cover your pie dish with tin foil sprayed with non-stick spray, and bake for 20 minutes at 375F, then remove the foil and bake 5 more minutes. Let your “pie” rest for 5-10 minutes out of the oven before slicing and serving up. And then… dig in!

As for my little experiment… I’m not jumping to any conclusions about the longevity of its success, but Round 1 is a win! She LOVED it, and even informed us that she actually really does like zucchini, she just sometimes pretends not to… Okay, madam. Whatever you say.

(Again, here‘s that original inspiration recipe, and here‘s where it’s saved on my Meatless Monday Pinterest board.)

A Revelation, and a REALLY Good Burger Recipe

Of course this is another post about burgers. Actually, the recipe part will be brief. This is more about the revelation part. And the revelation I had was about the meat itself.

This weekend we bought our ground beef at the Farmer’s Market. For some weird reason, I’ve always been very intimidated by buying meat from the market. I think it has to do with the interaction with an expert, and my lack of real knowledge about the product. I definitely want to buy and prepare and consume quality meat, but I think there was something that made me feel like an imposter who would be found out if I talked to the meat guy directly. Is that as strange as it sounds, or does that make some modicum of sense?

It doesn’t matter, because in the end, I got over it, and I don’t think I can ever go back to a grocery store again! It’s just… SO much better! The same recipe will turn out great no matter where you buy your ground beef, I’m sure, but it’s going to be BETTER-great if you make sure to invest a little in the quality. Seriously.

So that’s my pitch for buying farm-fresh beef, since now, after a single purchase, I’m definitely an expert. But you came here for the burger recipe, so here you go.

makes ~ 5-6 average-size burgers
* 1lb QUALITY ground beef
* 1 egg
* 1/4C panko breadcrumbs
* 1t freshly ground black pepper
* 1-1 1/2t kosher salt
* 1/2t onion powder
* 1/4t garlic powder
* 2t dry BBQ rub/seasoning (I use Trader Joe’s “BBQ Rub & Seasoning with Coffee and Garlic (see here), but you can make your own blend or use your go-to, of course)

Carefully mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl, using your fingers. The “carefully” part of this instruction is critical, because you don’t want to affect the tenderness of your burger by overworking the meat, especially since you took my advice and invested in high-quality ground beef.

Use just your hands/fingers to work the egg and seasonings through and be sure it’s all combined evenly into the meat. Then form your burgers by scooping equal amounts of the mixture into your hand, first into a ball, then flattening (but not actually making it flat!) it out into a patty.

You can prepare these ahead, and refrigerate the patties until you’re ready to grill, or get right to grilling if you’re eager to eat. When you are grill-ready, heat a clean grill. Cook about 5 minutes on the first side, then flip carefully and finish for about 2 minutes on the other.

Get all your preferred fixins ready ahead of time, too, so that when these babies come off the grill you can just get.to.burger-building.

Seriously, I might drop all my other burger recipes and go to this one from now on. These were just that delicious. I wish I could transport a taste to you through the interwebs as evidence.

Then again… it might not be my recipe at all. It might just be my Farmer’s Market-fresh meat!