Garden Lessons Learned & The Best Rhubarb Tart

Earlier this month I trusted some internet information which led me to a huge garden blunder. I planted my much cared for indoor tomatoes outside too soon. The weather turned cold and especially windy just days later and being away from home I was unable to protect those beauties. Mother Nature took a toll on the plants, but they held on. Today, in spite of their ravaged leaves they continue to thrive and I am already seeing a few tomatoes. Planting a garden can teach us many lessons. Remaining strong no matter how life chooses to chew us up and spit us out is one of them. Stay calm and plant some seeds. The rewards are great.

tomato plant

Tending a garden also teaches patience. For instance, I planted rhubarb last year and I really, really, really want to pick it, but I can’t. The rule of thumb is to let the plant build its root system and strength over a three-year period before harvesting. It’s the same with asparagus. It’s been 7 years since I planted the asparagus and today we are harvesting more than we can eat. It’s a joy to share it. The reward of patience. Lesson learned

As the world is opening up so is the produce at the market. Rhubarb is plentiful in the spring, but has a short growing season. Get while the getting is good and stock up on the naturally tart stalks. This darling of a vegetable can be added to pies, muffins, quick breads and even savory dishes.

Rhubarb Frangipane Tart

ALMOND FRANGIPANE

14 cup plus 2 tablespoon sugar

14 cup plus 1 tablespoon almond paste

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

14 teaspoon baking powder

14 teaspoon kosher salt

In food processor fitted with metal blade, beat the sugar and almond paste until almond paste is chopped into small bits. Add butter; pulse just until blended. Add eggs and vanilla; blend until smooth. Scrape down the bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter mixture and pulse until just blended. Cover and chill while preparing crust.

CRUST

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened

14 cup plus 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1 egg yolk

14 cups all-purpose flour

14 teaspoon kosher salt

3 to 4 stalks fresh cut rhubarb, diced on diagonal (1/2-inch dice)

1 tablespoon sugar

With electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl, then beat in the egg yolk. Combine the flour and salt, then add to the bowl, beating on low speed until just incorporated. Place dough in a 9-inch round fluted tart pan. Using fingertips, press the dough evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the pan to cover in an even layer. Dock (prick) the dough every 2 inches with a fork. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet; freeze for 10 minutes or until firm.

Meanwhile, set a rack in the top third of the oven and preheat to 350°. Spoon the frangipane to the center of the tart crust, and using an offset spatula, spread evenly all the way to the edges. Individually place the chunks of rhubarb on the frangipane in a pattern you like, leaving room between the pieces. Sprinkle tart with 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Bake until the top is lightly browned, about 40 to 45 minutes. Tart will look puffy, but then settle with cooling. Cool completely.

A symbol of wisdom, burning sage is used to achieve a healing state — or to solve or reflect upon spiritual dilemmas

Never A Good Time To Say Good-Bye

black dog peeking over edge of sofa

Good and faithful friends are hard to find, but saying good-bye to one is even harder.

they shared the same birthday

It’s been 15 years since this sweet fur baby found her forever home with us. She was discovered abandoned in a box on a soccer field in Winston-Salem, NC. At the time, my daughter was a college student there at Wake Forest University, home to the Demon Deacons. With school colors of black and gold, it was a natural fit to name this rambunctious puppy, Deacon.

She did have a certain fashion sense like her sister

For all those pet lovers out there I know you get it when I say that Deacon wasn’t just a pet, but a full-fledged member of the family. Her status as “third child” well-deserved. Like most children she loved nothing more than a few good treats, play time and praise. And like a child she was pretty much this mama’s shadow, not wanting to be in my lap, but just keeping me in her sights.

under-foot in the kitchen hoping I drop something good to eat

This was a heart-wrenching week as we made the decision along with the Vet to euthanize our beloved dog. I have never felt such selfish guilt in my heart even though my brain knew it was the right thing to do. As I sat scratching her neck in the Vet’s exam room I was grateful for sharing one last walk around the garden with her, letting her snack on some cheese and telling her how much I loved her. I told her how great it would be to see her brother now.

William’s Homecoming

Here is the link to a previous blog post featuring Deacon’s favorite homemade dog biscuits.

Strawberry Stuffed Sourdough Puffy Pancakes

Yes, I can’t deny that I’m a day late and a dollar short on Mother’s Day, but I’d feel terrible if I did not share this one with all my strawberry and sourdough lovers. And if you don’t have an aebelskiver pan, well, you must go out (strike that due to COVID19), I mean order one on-line because serving this recipe to your friends and family guarantees you rock-star status in the kitchen.

Strawberry Stuffed Sourdough Puffy Pancakes

3 oz. (62.5 g) sourdough starter (great use of discard)

¾ cup (184 g) milk

2 teaspoons sugar

¾ cup (109 g) cake flour

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted plus extra for greasing pan

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs, separated

Fresh California strawberries, ½ cup small dice plus 10 strawberries, sliced

Whipped Cream

Maple syrup

Powdered sugar

The night before, in a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk sourdough starter, milk, sugar and cake flour until blended. Cover and set aside on counter overnight. In the morning, stir in melted butter, salt, baking powder, vanilla and egg yolks. Whip egg whites to just stiff peaks. Using a rubber spatula, fold egg whites into batter. Brush the wells of an ebelskiver pan with butter and place over medium heat. When the bubbling of the butter subsides, spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into each well. Spoon 1 teaspoon of diced strawberries into the center of each pancake. Top each with enough batter to fill the well. Cook the pancakes for 3 to 5 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown and crisp. Use two wooden chopsticks or skewers to turn pancakes. Cook 2 to 3 minutes more or until lightly brown. Repeat with remaining ingredients keeping cooked pancakes warm in a 200F oven. To serve, arrange warm pancakes on individual serving plates and top with sliced strawberries, whipped cream, maple syrup and a dusting of powdered sugar, if desired.

for all the mothers who have ever lost a child

For two more of my aebelskiver recipes check out this blog post or this blog post. Think Father’s Day <3.