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

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.

What’s In Your Garden Plan

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Last week I wrote of the symbolic nature of flowers. Look around your garden. What does it say about you? Plant some dill. It symbolizes power against evil. Every victory garden could use that power right about now. Nasturtium, too. Those edible peppery and sometimes fiery orange blossoms stand for patriotism. Do you love this country? How do you show it?

For those who knew William or have followed this blog I’m certain I don’t have to explain why dill and nasturtium remind me of him. I don’t know a soul (other than his military brothers) who love this country more and fought the good fight, so others could live free.

William on the left with two of his brothers.

Today, I praise the essential workers battling the evil of COVID19 especially my two nieces. Heather and Brenda are on the front lines as nurses in ICU units devoted to the care of those infected. I can’t imagine the mix of emotions associated with these essential jobs, but they do it. They pledge an allegiance to quality healthcare no matter the hardship. All any of us nonessentials can do is express our gratitude for their courage, dedication and willingness to fight the good fight…plus wash our hands and practice social distancing. This thing isn’t over, yet.

With its feathery leaves and delicate flowers dill is an essential herb that attracts beneficial predators to the garden. I guess that is how it got its reputation for fighting evil.

As much as I love this recipe as written desperate times call for desperate measures. These days #AmericaStrong we are all adapting to a new normal. Thankfully, this is a raid your pantry kind of recipe initially adapted from William-Sonoma’s web site. No puff pastry? No problem. Use any kind of pie dough or even a pre-made pizza crust, flour tortillas or naan…hey! it is an international situation we are in so be brave and use whatever. Same goes for fresh tomatoes. Any fresh vegetable will do, but if it is crunchy like broccoli, blanch it first. Onions? Caramelize them first. Canned tomatoes? Drain them and pat them dry. Same for cheese and herbs…just do you and don’t forget to plant some seeds.

Fresh Tomato Tart with Feta & Dill

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced

kosher salt

6 oz. crumbled feta cheese

1 Tbs. chopped fresh dill

 freshly ground pepper, herb oil and freshly grated parmesan cheese

Heat an oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle both sides of tomatoes lightly with salt and place in a single layer on paper towels. Let them stand 15 to 30 minutes for paper towels to absorb some of their moisture.

Unfold the puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out into a 9-by-13-inch rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet. Using a fork, prick (or dock) the pastry all over. Fold over 1/2 inch of the pastry all the way around the edge.

Arrange the tomatoes and cheese evenly on top of the pastry rectangle. Sprinkle evenly with the dill and some freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with a little herb oil and parmesan.

Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a work surface. Cut the tart into pieces and serve.