Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rhubarb Shortcake

Rhubarb is a fruit (deemed so in 1947 by court decree, although it is botanically a vegetable) that many people don't know much about.  It is very high in fiber and contains substances that "aid digestion" and you all know what that means!  It's very low in calories, but you do have to sweeten the dawg out of it so it's not exactly a diet food.
My Mom and Dad loved rhubarb, and so do I.  They liked theirs stewed and had it in the morning with breakfast.  However, if you have ever seen a bowl of boiled rhubarb, you will readily understand why this isn't my favorite way to serve it.

I like to roast my rhubarb and serve it with cake or shortcake.  And this is NOT with strawberries.  Talk about gilding the lily!
I also like to make rhubarb crisp which is just like any other crisp.   But for today,  here is how to make Rhubarb Shortcake.

Try to buy thin stalks of rhubarb, about the size of very big celery.  You might have to make do with giant stalks, but the thinner the better.  Don't worry if they aren't all bright red. They are usually available here in May through the summer.  Sometimes I have to pester the produce man to order it for me.

Get about 6-8 stalks of rhubarb and wash it,  and if it's big, run a knife down the stalk and cut it in two.  Then cut it into pieces about 1 inch long.  More or less.
Put it into a bowl with about a cup of sugar, and toss it around until the pieces are coated.
Spread it out over a sheet pan. 
Put it in a hot oven (400)  for 20-30 minutes.  Some of the sugar will be browned and the rhubarb will be tender.
With a spatula scrape it off the foil into a bowl and give it a taste. Be sure to get all the juice!  If it's too sour, add more sugar and toss gently.   That's all there is to it.

Here's my recipe for shortcake:
2C. SR flour
1/4 C. sugar
1 good pinch of salt
1 stick of softened butter
1/4 brick of softened creamed cheese (optional)
1C. milk
Mix the dry ingredients.  Cut in the butter and cream cheese.  You can leave some large chunks.
Add milk, stir and form into a ball.
Flatten the ball into a greased pie plate, or shape into individual biscuits.
Cook at 350 for 30 minutes.
Slice the pieces horizontally in half before serving.

You are also going to need some whipped cream, creme fraiche, or ice cream. 
Then assemble your rhubarb and shortcake in layers: shortcake, rhubarb, cream, shortcake, rhubarb, cream and mint if you have some.
Oh, yes.  This is much better than a bowl of stewed rhubarb, don't you think?

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Everyone has their own guacamole recipe.  Isn't that right?  Some like it with onion, garlic, cilantro, whatever floats your boat.  Some people don't include tomato.  My family likes it this way----simple. 

 You will need perfectly ripe avocados.  They give to the touch,  but are not mushy soft.  I  like Hass avocados best, the ones with the bumpy skin.

Take your avocado and a big, sharp knife.

Put the knife in at the mid-point and roll the avocado down it, cutting it in two around the pit.  Twist the two sides and pull them apart, pop!

Carefully stick your knife into the pit and twist it slightly, until the pit can be removed.

Then, take a soup spoon and slip it between the skin and the meat of the avocado and separate the two.

There you go!

And you didn't even have to touch the slimy avocado!  

So into the bowl go the aguacates and the skinned tomatoes.  Don't know how to do that?  Just submerge the tomatoes into boiling water for about 10 seconds.

When you take them out of the boiling water, the skin should just slip off, like this:

Dice your tomatoes and add them to the bowl, along with salt and the juice of limes.  Here's the basic ratio:

 1 tomato per each 2 avocados.  1 lime per each tomato, extra if they are not juicy.  Salt to taste.  That's it, todo completo

Then, you mush/mix it up with a pastry blender, or a potato masher, or pair of knives.  There are those who want pieces of actual avocado in their guacamole, not pureed into baby food, and I am one of those.   Which leads me to a story...
Once in a classroom long, long ago, an ESL teacher was encouraging her students to talk about movies they had seen.  The movie "Exorcist" was not that old, at the time.  Fermin Wong excitedly waved his hand.  "Yes, Fermin?"  "Mees, did you see that movie?  She threw out guacamole!"
She sure did.

So when it's just the way you like it, take one of the pits and put it in the bowl.  It keeps your guacah from turning brown. 

How are you going to eat it?  Up to you.  I like it as part of a steak, dinner, myself.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Chinese Barbecue Sauce aka Char Siu

Many people don't know that Chinese Roast Pork is called Char Siu Bao.   The only reason I'm  a smarty-pants is because when I saw it posted on by My Asian Kitchen I realized that my recipe box was missing something that I truly loved.  Remember Moon Garden, anyone?  Wow, was that exotic!  Driving downtown, the chinese music and waiters.  What a thrill for a little farm girl from Chamberino.
So, most of the recipes go something like this:

Pork.  Most recipes use Butt or Belly.  Have you ever seen pork belly for sale, here in West Texas?  Please tell me where.  And another thing, isn't that called bacon?  Anyway...  I use what I can get.
1c. sugar
6T soy sauce
3T hoisin sauce
4T rice wine or sherry
1T salt
1T Chinese 5 Spice
1/2 tsp. garlic chile or just red chile flakes
Red food coloring (but why bother?)

Just mix it up and marinate your pork in it.  Several hours, if possible.   If you cook a loin roast, set the oven at 400, put it on a rack and turn it after 30 minutes. I cooked these ribs in the oven for about 2 hours at 325, turning and painting again once.   Some recipes call for a coating of honey and/or  Maltose at the end for shininess, but if you put water under your roast or ribs you won't need it.  If you grill it, you might just use honey thinned with a little  water right before you take it off. 
Chinese chicken salad minus the chicken would be a great side for this, it seems to me.