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.

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Grilled Cranberry Glazed Salmon in Banana Leaf with Cranberry Cauliflower Rice

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Typically, cranberries are associated with autumn and holiday recipes. It’s April, so why am I cooking with cranberries? First, I love them. Second, it’s because premium frozen cranberries are available all year long and mingle well with the BBQ lifestyle. Inspired by spring and the opening day of fishing season cranberries make the most fantastic, tangy BBQ glaze for grilling all kinds of seafood. They also brighten up easy side dishes with their superfruit flavor. Today, I share a fun family dinner with a bit of cranberry flare as part of the Cape Cod Select Blogger Recipe Contest.

Cranberries add the most incredible layer of flavor and tang to my Asian inspired BBQ sauce plus a breath of freshness to cauliflower rice. It’s all so pretty, light and healthy.

And don’t be afraid of that banana leaf. It’s readily available in your frozen food section, too. It helps seal in all the moist goodness and flavors so lovingly wrapped up inside it. In a pinch you can substitute aluminum foil, but you will miss the subtle flavor infused by the charred leaf.

Can I double dog dare you to step outside of your cranberry comfort zone now that spring has sprung? Get to your grocery store and grab a bag of Cape Cod Select Premium Farm Fresh Cranberries and try my recipe. For sure you will be thanking me. And BTW, this cranberry glaze is equally delicious on chicken, pork and burgers, so get grilling and enjoy being outside.

Grilled Cranberry Glazed Salmon in Banana Leaf with Cranberry Cauliflower Rice

1 ¼ cups Cape Cod Select Premium Farm Fresh Cranberries, divided

3 tablespoons fresh tangerine or orange juice

1 tablespoon lite rice wine vinegar

¼ cup lightly packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon Asian chili garlic sauce

4 (3 to 4 oz) skin-on salmon fillets

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

4 pieces (12-inch square) banana leaf, thawed, if frozen

½ large cauliflower, cored and separated into florets

1 ½ teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon water

Garnish: sliced green onions and toasted black or white sesame seeds

Side dish recommendation: grilled bok choy

In small saucepan, over medium-high heat, combine 1 cup cranberries, juice, vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil and chili garlic sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer and stir 3-5 minutes, or until cranberries burst and mixture thickens. Heat grill to medium-high. Season each salmon fillet with salt and pepper. Place 1 fillet, skin side down, on one end of banana leaf. Spoon a good tablespoon of cranberry glaze over top of fillet. Fold banana leaf over fish, fold in sides, and continue folding to opposite side. Place packets, skin side down on hot grill. Grill for 8 to 10 minutes, or until banana leaf is charred, turning, during last 2 minutes of grilling time. Meanwhile, pulse cauliflower and remaining ¼ cup of cranberries in food processor to form rice-sized pieces. In a large skillet over medium-high heat combine cranberry-cauliflower mixture, sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, a few grinds of pepper and I-teaspoon of water. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. To serve: spoon some cranberry-cauliflower rice on each serving plate. Carefully unwrap salmon packets and place fillet on top. Spoon additional warm cranberry glaze over salmon. Sprinkle with green onions and sesame seeds. Makes 4 servings.

Notes: you can also present the dish on the opened banana leaf, if desired