Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rhubarb Shortcake

Rhubarb Shortcake When spring transitions to summer, that means it's time for rhubarb. When I was a kid, we had a huge rhubarb plant that would grow humongous stalks. Occasionally, my sister and I would pull a stalk and daringly bite into it for the tart rhubarb taste. But they were also pretty good dipped in sugar.

When I saw rhubarb at the St. Paul Farmers' Market, I knew I had to get some. I recently had rhubarb shortcake at a local restaurant so I though I'd try it at home.

Almost any shortcake recipe will do, but this is the one I used. I will say the recipe for the rhubarb is pretty much perfect. A nice tart and sweet rhubarb taste, with only sugar and a little butter. Yum!



  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream plus additional for brushing
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar in the Raw


  • 1 lb rhubarb stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

Also, lightly sweetened whipped cream

  • Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle.

  • Lightly butter a baking sheet.

  • Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in cream just until a dough forms. Gather dough into a ball and gently knead together once or twice on a lightly floured surface.

  • Roll or pat out dough into a 6-inch square (about 1/2 inch thick). Trim edges with a floured knife and cut into 4 squares. Brush tops with cream and sprinkle with Sugar in the Raw. Bake on baking sheet until golden, 15 to 20 minutes, then transfer biscuits to a rack to cool.

  • While biscuits bake, cook rhubarb with granulated sugar and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fruit is very tender and falling apart, about 10 minutes.

  • Stir together cornstarch, then add to rhubarb mixture and simmer, stirring, until mixture is slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes.

  • Split biscuits, then sandwich rhubarb and whipped cream inside them.


Fresh Rhubarb Shortcake

Fresh Rhubarb Shortcake 

Remember, the leaves of the Rhubarb plant are poisonous, although you'd have to eat a lot.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Peas on the patio with purple flowers?

Pea Pod Peas aren't really meant for container gardening but there's no hurt trying. With that said, I've gotten a few good pods and it's worth a fresh little treat every other day or so. Not to mention my Jardine's parrot loves them way more than the frozen ones thawed with hot water.

I was also surprised by a pea plant with a unique mutation. It has purple flowers!!!

Purple flowered peas

I did a little research online to see what was up, but then I cam across purple-podded peas. I want to grow those!

purple peas

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Trip to the St. Paul Farmer's Market

Saint Paul Farmers' Market $23 bucks! That's what I spent for a baguette, red potatoes, yukon gold potatoes, peas, beets, Chinese spinach, broccoli, and fresh honey. Try getting that at the grocery store!

 Saint Paul Farmers' Market

It was my first trip to a Farmer's Market and the one in downtown St. Paul did not disappoint. It was busy and you definitely knew what was in season. Nearly all the vegetable stands had potatoes, tomatoes, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, and beets. Almost everything there was picked that morning. You could tell the potatoes were fresh, as they're paper-thin skins were peeling. Obviously they were freshly dug up. And can you believe one bunch of beets was just one dollar?

I'll be going back and I can't wait for peppers, corn and melons to start showing up.

Dayliliesmarket-1893wildflower honey fresh onionskohlrabi & bright lights swiss chard

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Snickers Fudge

Snickers Fudge Talk about sugar shock. I had the fortune of accidentally coming across this recipe at Culinary in the Country, that perfectly replicates snickers. Hopefully you'll have quite a few of guests because this sure makes a lot. That's why I'm taking a bunch to work so I don't become a sugar coma victim.

The nougat and caramel is perfect. The caramel cubes usually only show up around Halloween, so you can just use the caramel bits that are on shelves year-round and put them on scale to measure 14oz (you'll need two bags). The milk chocolate chips are really sweet in this little dessert so I would imagine you could do half semi-sweet or even dark chocolate for that matter.

snickers fudge 


For the first layer

1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup peanut butter

For the second layer

4 tablespoons butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped salted peanuts

For the third layer

14 ounce package caramel cubes
1/4 cup heavy cream

For the fourth layer

1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

To make the first layer
In a small saucepan over low heat, add milk chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and peanut butter. Stir often until completely melted and smooth. Pour mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13" baking pan lightly coated with nonstick spray. Using an off-set spatula, spread the mixture to an even layer and place in the refrigerator until set.

To make the second layer
In a medium heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Mix in sugar and evaporated milk. Once it comes to a boil, let cook 5 minutes while stirring. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in marshmallow creme, peanut butter and vanilla. Stir in peanuts. Pour over the set chocolate layer and use an off-set spatula to gently spread mixture in an even layer. Place in the refrigerator until set.

To make the third layer
Place the unwrapped caramel cubes and heavy cream in a medium saucepan. Place over low heat and stir until the mixture has completely melted and is smooth. Pour in the pan and quickly spread to an even layer with an off-set spatula. Place in the refrigerator until set.

To make the fourth layer
In a small saucepan over low heat, add milk chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and peanut butter. Stir often until completely melted and smooth. Pour over the third layer and use an off-set spatula to spread to an even layer. Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before cutting into squares.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Chicken Carbonara Recipe

Yep, it's fattening!

Chicken Carbonara Carbonara comes from the Italian word, “carbone,” which means coal. But there’s a mystery behind carbonara. Some think it was named for coal miners who loved the dish. Others say it was originally made over a charcoal fire, while some say it’s named because of the specks of pepper throughout. Whatever the explanation, just count on loosening your belt.

The core ingredients for traditional carbonara are pancetta, a mixture of cheeses, eggs, and freshly cracked black pepper. We Americans add cream to our carbonara, making it much more rich than the Italian version. There are tons of versions of this recipe. So here’s mine. It’s not exactly the traditional version, as it has no egg, but it’s good and certainly fattening.

Danskin Station2 I first learned this recipe while working at a small restaurant in Garden Valley, Idaho, called Danskin Station. People traveled 50 miles from Boise to experience the scenic drive and have a nice dinner. From soft-shelled crab sandwiches to Rib-eye steaks on a mesquite grill, it had some great food you certainly couldn’t find at the dive restaurants in the area. I started working there at 15-years-old as a dishwasher and finished until I graduated high school as a cook. The people were fun, and the food was great. What more could you want?

Chicken Carbonara


4 strips bacon, cut in pieces.

About 4 oz. angel hair pasta (1/3 of a 12oz box)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 Tbs. pepper

2/3 c. (heaping) shredded parmesan

1 1/2c. cream

  1. Cook pasta according to directions and strain. bacon
  2. cut 4 strips bacon into pieces and cook until crispy. Remove from heat and reserve the bacon drippings in the pan. Use slotted spoon to remove bacon and set in a paper towel lined bowl. Set aside. 
  3. Cut two chicken breasts into medium-width strips, then cut cross-wise, into thin chunks. On medium heat, add chicken Chicken Breastbreast to pan and sprinkle with black pepper. Cook until no longer pink. 
  4. Turn up the heat to medium-high. Quickly pour cream into pan with chicken breast. Add the bacon and sprinkle with parmesan. And add the pasta.
  5. Toss together in the pan, until combined and the cream has thickened. carbonara2-3
  6. Serve as an entrée for two, or as a side. I could eat the whole thing in two different sittings. Is that bad?




Chicken Carbonara 


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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Adventures in Butterscotch

Homemade Butterscotch Pudding So I'll admit, I've never really thought of butterscotch pudding beyond the box. But I decided to try some for dessert at a new restaurant called Brasa Rotisserie on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul, MN. It's actually the second one in the Twin Cities but it's also on my way to work, which is convenient.

I decided to try making it at home by scouring the internet and found a simple enough recipe to try. It's pretty good, but reminded me more of vanilla pudding than butterscotch. After a little more research, it looks like the best recipes carmelize the brown sugar and butter instead of just mixing it in as this recipe calls for. But either way, if you want to ditch the box and try making pudding at home, this is a nice and easy recipe to try.

Real Butterscotch Pudding

Butterscotch Pudding:

3 cups whole (full fat) milk

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch (corn flour)

1/8 teaspoon salt

4 large egg yolks

2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Garnish: Lightly sweetened whipped cream and butterscotch chips


Homemade Butterscotch Pudding In a large (heatproof) bowl whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the milk until you have a thick paste. Set aside while you heat the milk.

First, rinse a medium-sized heavy saucepan with cold water and then shake out the excess water. Doing this step prevents the milk from scorching or so they say. Then pour the remaining 2 1/2 cups of milk into the saucepan and bring just to a boil. Gradually pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to avoid scrambled eggs, until the mixture is smooth. Transfer the pudding mixture to a clean large, heavy bottomed saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of mayonnaise (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla extract.

Butterscotch Pudding Pour into 4 bowls or large ramekins. As you pour there may be lumps toward the bottom of the pan so try to avoid those. The pudding can be served warm or if chilling, press plastic wrap onto the surface of the warm puddings to prevent a skin from forming. If you like the skin, simply leave the pudding uncovered until cooled, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The puddings can be made a day or two ahead of serving. Garnish each pudding with a large dollop of softly whipped cream.

Makes 4 servings. But stay tuned as I plan to try a recipe that requires carmelization of the sugar.

Real Butterscotch Pudding

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Coconut M&M's

Sounds like summer is bringing some unique flavored candy. Coconuts M&M's are supposed to hit store shelves this summer. So how do they get the coconut in them? Well don't expect any. It's all flavoring in the solid milk chocolate. You can find an insightful review here.

UPDATE: I had a chance to taste these from my local Walgreens, and I have to say I’m not a fan. It tastes like fake coconut instead of the real thing.

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Toll House cookie dough recalled

Toll House Cookie Dough RecallLove cookie dough? Don't eat this. Nestle voluntarily recalled the dough after several reported illnesses linked to eating the dough raw. The ever-credible FDA said there have been 66 reports of illness across 28 states since March. About 25 people have been hospitalized, but no one has died. It could be E-coli. E. coli is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration and, in the most severe cases, kidney failure. Lovely...

I don't think you want to eat this raw anyway, it doesn't exactly resemble cookie dough. It's kind of a greasy, plasticy mixture. Of course I've downed a few too many spoons of the stuff before.

All the better reason to make some cookies from scratch.

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