Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pin Mining - Rhubarb Edition

Some could argue that Spring has been here since Autumn left us.  We really didn't have much of a Winter in Southern Ontario.  A scant dusting of snow a few times, and I think there was enough to shovel a couple of times.  The kids were both thrilled that the grass was finally covered enough to go sledding and bummed that it only happened once.

This past Easter weekend is the first I can recall where I saw dandelions, Magnolias, the last of the Forsythia blossoms (they've been out for weeks) and fruit trees in bloom.  We've gone looking for fruit blossoms on Mother's Day and been too early.  At this rate, there will be Lilacs by the first of May!

Our own garden is coming to life as well.  The peas and radishes the kids and I planted last month are doing nicely under some protective plastic.  My kitchen window is bursting with beans and cucumbers and melons.  The only thing missing is a patch of rhubarb. 

Ah rhubarb.  I fondly remember my cousin and I sitting on our grandmother's glider swing, under the big tree, reading first edition X-Men and Richie Rich comics and eating stalks of rhubarb, fresh from the garden, dipped in little dishes of white sugar.  How much of her patch did we go through each year?  And whatever happened to those bags of comics anyway?

My grandmother's meringue topped rhubarb custard was another treat I fondly remember.  Made in a deep dish pan, the fruit was tangy and stringy, tempered by the custard-y filling and topped with mounds of fluffy, golden meringue.  My mother has the recipe.  I must get it, even if I may be the only one to eat it.

So as my thoughts have turned to rhubarb, I thought I'd go digging through Pinterest for some Spring inspiration.  There are plenty of recipes for rhubarb/strawberry desserts, rhubarb/raspberry creations and even a few that look like my Nana's pie.  But here are three that are new to me and look like they're worth a try.

Rhubarb Baklava

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

Rhubarb Iced Tea

Monday, April 2, 2012

Food Bucket List

I've been thinking lately about things I'd love to make but for one reason or another have yet to attempt, or succeed at.  Fried chicken is one such creature.  I don't remember the last time I've made an actual attempt at proper fried chicken.  It's been.... many years.  To be fair, I don't really like to fry in the house, and often use the side burner on the barbecue for such things. However it's hard to control the temperature well when there's a stiff breeze (or it's snowing).  And temperature control kind of matters.

I have, however, watched Nigella Lawson boil her chicken in her buttermilk marinade before finishing it off in hot oil, seen Alton Brown's 147 step process for fried chicken perfection, heard arguments for and against both shallow frying and deep frying, read that the best fried chicken has a thin crust, a thick crust, a double dipped crust, a breading, a coating, a dredge, a batter....  I'm starting to understand why I have yet to achieve any success with this beast.

Another item I've been thinking of lately that I would like to make myself is pita bread.  I've made naan on the barbecue with wonderful results.  But I have yet to pull out (find) my pizza stone and attempt homemade pitas.

I made ricotta once.  It was for a cheesecake recipe.  I decided that I'd make the cheese instead of buying it.  But since I wasn't all that familiar with ricotta, I wasn't sure that my finished product was right (it was, apparently).  I ended up dumping it and making a dash to the store.  That was... disappointing.  But I learned.

Speaking of cheese, I'd like to make my own mozzarella, too.  I saw a recipe recently for it that looked relatively easy, if I can find rennet.  I'd like to make yogurt, too.  Yeah, yeah, I know it's supposed to be easy.  I've seen Alton Brown do it, but I think I'll try it anyway (I need to stop watching him turn simple recipes into enough steps to fill half hour long shows).

Some day I hope to smoke my own meat.  Making my own sausage is another aspiration.  I will own a smoker, eventually.  One that can do both hot and cold smoking.  I'll smoke cheese, and vegetables, and salt....  Yum!

And some day I'll make duck confit.  I know I can buy it, and I don't even do that, but for some reason it beckons me to attempt it.

Then there are the things I want to perfect.  Ribs, pulled pork, those thin burgers that are smashed down and cooked over insanely high heat on a griddle so that they develop a nice crust....