I’m going to keep this one short and sweet. I made this easy peasy rhubarb buttermilk upside down cake a few weeks back, and have been meaning to share the recipe ever since. Between working on our new house, taking care of our basement kitty, Pinecone (more on her here), and other life stuff, it’s been near impossible to sit down and write. I want to share this cake with you before rhubarb season passes us by though, so here goes! If you like rhubarb, sweet and tart flavors, cake or any combination of those things, you’re going to inhale this upside down cake the same day you bake it, just like Ponny and I did!
It might not be the prettiest cake I’ve ever made (next time I’ll cut the rhubarb into skinnier pieces), but it is one of the most delicious. The rhubarb is melt-in-your-mouth tender and the buttermilk brings out the natural tang of the rhubarb, while also making the cake extra moist. It’s a sweet cake, but not so sweet, like some of the rhubarb desserts out there – I think some people tend to drown rhubarb in sugar. I say let rhubarb be what it is – a tender, tart and magical food we get to enjoy for just a few weeks every spring – and that’s just what this cake does. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
First things first: Ponny and I bought a house!!! I’ve mentioned it a couple times already, but it feels a lot more real now that we’re actually starting work on our little fixer. It’s a 1918 bungalow with a brick fireplace, airy kitchen and stunning original features–okay, so that’s just my positive spin on the fact that it still has all original wiring, plumbing and zero hardwired light fixtures. Yikes. Still, I am so, so happy to own a place of our own after living in apartments–at long last I can paint the walls whatever color I want. I can drill holes wherever I feel like it!
We’re planning to spend every spare moment over the next several months bringing the house into the 21st century, which won’t leave much time for cooking. I don’t want to resort to eating fast food every night, so I’ve been brainstorming healthy and satisfying meals that can be thrown together with minimal effort after a long day of home projects. One of my favorites so far is this spring greens pizza–it takes about five minutes to prep, 15 minutes to bake and even less time to devour because it is so tasty.
The pizza has all my favorite farmer’s market greens of the moment: asparagus shaved into thin ribbons, adorable fiddleheads, peppery nasturtium leaves and tender micro greens. They’re piled high on a olive oil base, dotted with chèvre and sprinkled with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. The vegetables bring a wealth of flavors and textures to the pizza and the creaminess of the goat cheese balances the bolder green flavors–it’s one of those meals that’s so simple yet so full of flavor you’re left wondering how so many yummy taste molecules were able to fit into every little bite. Continue Reading
After a long, dreary winter, is there anything so refreshing as looking outside and seeing sunshine and colorful blooms around every corner? Even the dull gray sidewalks are dusted in pretty petal confetti! My food cravings are almost entirely driven by what’s in season around me; I’m the person jumping up and down at the market going, “yes! Strawberries/pumpkins/etc. are back! I’ve waited all year!” So it’s only natural that when spring flowers abound, I’m making plans for how best to eat them!
And I’ll happily eat just about any edible flower there is, including dandelions, which have an unfortunate reputation for being pesky, pointless weeds. But let me tell you, they’re anything but! Think of dandelion greens as a slightly milder friend of arugula. They’re tasty in salads, on pizzas and in smoothies, just like any other leafy green, and happen to be packed with vitamins. The flowers are a little more bitter, but totally edible, too!
If you’re not quite convinced, these sweet mini cakes, with Stash Organic Sunny Dandelion Root Tea-infused frosting are for you. They’re an extra palatable, tasty introduction to eating dandelions that I’m sure will make you a dandelion convert for life! I made a simple yellow sheet cake, cut out rounds and stacked them up to make cute mini cakes that are just the right size for 2-3 people. I won’t judge you if you eat a whole one yourself though, because they are frosted in the lightest, loveliest tea-infused buttercream, and it’s really hard to stop at one slice.
The tea has notes of chicory, cocoa shell, orange peel and vanilla in addition to the dandelion greens, so the resulting buttercream was a little herbal, floral and fruity, with just the right amount of sweetness. You’d be hard pressed to find mini cakes better suited to springtime, especially when you top them with fresh dandelion flowers! Continue Reading
Have you ever tried drinking a shrub? Wondering how that would work, what with all the leaves and pointy bits? Not to worry – I was mystified, too, when I first saw shrubs on a cocktail menu. Fortunately, I’m not suggesting you drink greenery! No, this kind of shrub is much tastier and goes down a whole lot more smoothly. Shrubs are a sweet-tart mixer made by letting fresh fruit sit in vinegar, then adding sugar to the infused vinegar and boiling it all down to a syrup that brings sweetness, acidity and a punch of flavor to your drinks. I love that since shrubs are so full of flavor, they don’t require extra juices, herbs or liqueurs to make them immensely satisfying and drinkable. This shrub, made with fresh blackberries and minty licorice delight tea, is sweet, tangy and also has some tasty herbal notes. I didn’t want to obscure any of those flavors, so I mixed the shrub with sparkling water, and wow. The flavors all came through, and the sweetened vinegar makes them more intense than they would be without that acidic element.
The choice of tea made all the difference here. This was my first time making a shrub with tea, and while I knew I wanted to use an herbal one, I didn’t think a mild tea like chamomile or lavender would stand up to vinegar. Enter minty licorice delight! This is a new tea from Stash, and now that I’ve tried licorice and mint together, I don’t know how I got along with out them for so long. I’ll admit I’m not usually a fan of licorice. But in combination with the mint, it’s light and refreshing, and the perfect herbal complement to the blackberry and vinegar. While the blackberry is what hits your tastebuds first, it’s the minty licorice that lingers and makes you want to take another sip. Next time I’m going to try my shrub as a cocktail mixer – I think it’d pair well with an herbal liqueur like amaro or an elderflower cordial. The possibilities are endless, as is my appetite for shrubs! Have you ever tried making or drinking shrubs? I’d love to hear your favorites! Continue Reading
When you read the word ramen, do you picture a dehydrated noodle block with a packet full of msg? Yeah, me too. Until recently, that is. Ramen shops have been popping up all over the place and the steaming bowls of savory broth and slurp-worthy noodles they serve up are a far cry from the 20 cent stuff. If you like al dente pasta, you’ll probably love fresh ramen noodles – they’re springy and chewy and fun to eat, since you’re supposed to be noisy. Drop them into some homemade broth and you’ll have the most immensely satisfying one-bowl meal you never knew you could make from scratch.
This ramen bowl is vegan (if you take away the egg on top), but you’d never know it. Vegetable broth has a reputation for being thin and flavorless but I’m here to tell you that when you put the right things in it, it’s anything but! I simmered shiitake mushrooms, onions, garlic, ginger and some seasonings for about five hours, so the stock had plenty of time to soak up the hearty, spicy and umami flavors the ingredients have to offer.
Since I gave the flavors plenty of time to meld together, the resulting broth was rich, complex and satisfyingly salty – the perfect backdrop for the noodles, which don’t have much flavor on their own. Now, about the noodles. I’ve always been intimidated by the idea of making my own noodles of any kind. It seemed like a delicate process that might take years to master. Then the kind folks at Marcato sent me one of their pasta makers, and I found out that it’s not difficult at all – it just takes time. It’s not a 20 minute weeknight dinner, but give it a try on a weekend – I promise it’s worth it! Continue Reading