I recall the first time making bruschetta. There were five of us bridesmaids at my friend’s apartment getting getting ready for her wedding.
A clove of garlic in hand, I rubbed the still warm faces of the toast. It was fascinating watching the garlic clove disappear and the bread surfaces taking on an aromatic, glittery sheen.
Since then, I think fondly of the satisfying sensory experience of making bruschetta. Little rivals the perfect combination of tomato, basil and mozzarella. However, my other half does not care for tomatoes and it hardly seems worth the effort to make a batch of bruschetta for one.
That is where this recipe comes to the rescue – no tomatoes. Yet, this combination maintains the tastiness of fresh toasty bread, olive oil, aromatic garlic, fresh herbs and the tenderness of…sweet peppers.
Cutest lil helper “painting” the breads with olive oil
Toasty bread getting all dressed up for the party
Serves 2-3 slices
Sweet Pepper Bruschetta
Yields about 10 slices
10 minPrep Time
15 minCook Time
25 minTotal Time
1 loaf French baguette, sliced into ¼-½ inch slices
⅓ cup olive oil
2-3 Tb, heaping, finely chopped parsley
4 large sweet peppers (mine were 4-5 inches, or 10 small/medium sweet peppers), finely chopped
Extra oil for roasting
¼ tsp salt
2 Tb finely chopped basil
1 Tb lemon juice
¼ tsp black pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
In a small bowl, mix the ⅓ cup of olive oil and chopped parsley.
Place sliced bread in a baking sheet and brush each side generously with oil/parsley mix. Set aside.
Place finely chopped sweet pepper on another baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and toss to coat the peppers. Place the baking sheet of bread and peppers in the oven until bread is toasted and peppers are softened - approximately 10-15 minutes. Turn the toast over half way through the toasting process.
While items are in the oven, mix the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl (lemon juice, basil and black pepper). Once the sweet peppers come out of the oven softened, add them to the bowl of basil mix.
Carefully heap the pepper basil mix on each slice of toasted bread and serve immediately.
While growing up, I remember enjoying fresh produce from the garden. We often exchanged excess produce with the neighbors, who also kept a garden. Outside the garden, in the western part of the yard, there was a patch of hearty rhubarb that popped up every year. I love rhubarb, but for the life of me, I cannot recall any recipes we used it in. Though, I do remember a plethora of uses for the garden zucchini, sweet and savory.
Last summer I started entertaining the thought that rhubarb could be savory. Around the same time, I was trying out lower lactose “alfredo” sauce recipes. This recipe really came together as a result of those interests.
The rhubarb is sautéed with fresh green onions giving it a zippy it’s-summer-and-the-produce-is-rockin’ vibe. The alfredo sauce, basil and mozzarella cheese create a level of comfort. Finally, a bit of tang with crumbled goat cheese to top it all off.
In the time since I posted my last pizza recipe, I have changed my favorite crust recipe. This crust is a bit more tender while still being flavorful, even when adding in some wheat.
Hope you get a chance to give this recipe a try. Be sure to tag MamaSparrow on social media with pictures of your recipe results. Have a great holiday weekend!
Serves 2 slices or 1/4 of a pizza round
Rhubarb Basil White Sauce Pizza
Yields Makes 2 Pizza 12-14 inches round
Sauteed rhubarb and fresh green onions over alfredo sauce and basil. Tangy goat cheese and mozzarella cheese top off this cozy, spring pizza.
42 minPrep Time
18 minCook Time
1 hrTotal Time
New Crust Recipe
1 cup water
1 pack active dry yeast (also ok to use instant, let sit 15-20 mins instead of the 30 - 1 hr)
1 cup flour
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cups flour, divided, I like a mix of wheat and all-purpose
Olive oil or melted butter (optional)
Garlic salt (optional)
Cornmeal dusted on baking pans
1 Tb olive oil
2 cup rhubarb, chopped
6 green onions, finely sliced
16 oz of alfredo sauce*
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
4 ounces goat cheese, sliced or crumbled
3 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
In a large mixing bowl, combine the water, yeast, 1 cup flour and sugar. Let sit covered 30 minutes to 1 hour if using active dry yeast. For instant yeast, let sit 15 - 20 minutes.
Uncover the bowl and mix in the salt. Add 1 ½ cup cups of flour measuring in 2 Tbs. at a time. Mix. Sprinkle the last ½ cup of flour onto a lightly floured surface and shape the dough into 2 pizza rounds. Bunch the dough around the edges to form crust. Spread dough rounds with olive oil or melted butter and sprinkle with garlic salt, if desired.
Dust baking pans with cornmeal before placing dough on them.
Preheat the oven to 425 degree F.
While the oven warms, start cooking the toppings. Warm the olive oil in a saucepan over medium low heat. Toss in the green onions and warm a couple of minutes. Add the chopped rhubarb to the pan with the onions and warm for another couple of minutes. Pull the pan off the heat and set aside.
Top the crust with the sauce. Evenly spread the onion rhubarb mix over the sauce. Spread the chopped basil for the next layer. Finish the pizzas topping with cheese and garnish with fresh basil leaves.
If eating immediately, bake at 425 degrees F for 10 - 15 minutes until cheese is melted and crust is golden.
Freezing for Later
If freezing for later, set pizza on a cooling rack to allow crust to cool completely. Prepare the pizza for freezing by wrapping in plastic wrap and then a layer of aluminum foil. Mark the wrapped pizza before placing it in the freezer.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place frozen pizza on baking sheet or foil. Bake 15-25 minutes, until crust browns and cheese is bubbly.
*I used a homemade cauliflower alfredo sauce. http://leelalicious.com/healthier-cauliflower-alfredo-sauce/
It is healthier and has less lactose. The recipe easily converts to a dairy free/vegan sauce.
We had the first light snow flurries yesterday morning. Immediately our preschooler began scheming up all the activities he was going to do in the snow. Much to his chagrin there was not enough snowfall for his plans, yet.
The holidays bring out the child in me. In much the same way, I get giddy for the cookie baking, putting up the Christmas tree and decorating. I would be the person putting up a tree around Halloween if I didn’t have family with strict after Thanksgiving practices for such decorating.
The great news…this is Thanksgiving week so almost Christmas decorating time! That also means most of us are in the midst of harvest celebration meals. Today’s dish makes a nice light entree or great side for your harvest table.
The recipe for this asparagus tart has my wheat olive oil crust. Its a fairly simple crust recipe that is rustic and hardy. You could always use your own favorite pie crust or puff pastry recipe. Also, no shame in saving time with a store bought crust either.
The savory of Italian spices and the subtle sweet of lemon zest create a seasoned ricotta bed for the asparagus spears. I tried topping the tart with fresh shredded Parmesan and it was the right thing to do. Hope you get to try this tart soon. We’d love to see pictures so be sure to tag Mama Sparrow on your social media posting.
Serves about 1/4 of the tart
Lemon Asparagus Ricotta Galette
Yields 4-5 servings
10 minPrep Time
30 minCook Time
40 minTotal Time
1 olive oil pie crust* (recipe in notes)
14-18 stalks of asparagus
1 ½ Tb olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese, extra for topping
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
Salt & pepper, to taste
If making dough from scratch, make this first. It will need to chill 30 minutes before rolling out.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Prepare the asparagus by breaking off the tough ends. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and garlic. Set aside.
In a medium size bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Stir in the lemon zest, seasonings and 1 teaspoon of the olive oil garlic mix.
Roll or press out the dough to a rectangle of 11 x 5 inches. Pinch the side up to form crust sides.
Evenly spread the ricotta mix into the rolled out crust. Top the ricotta mix with the asparagus stalks. Optional: sprinkle a bit of shredded parmesan cheese over top the tart.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Allow tart to cool 3-5 minutes before cutting and serving.
*Olive Oil Crust
¾ cup all purpose flour
¾ cup wheat flour
½ tsp salt
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup milk
Mix together the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Put the olive oil and milk in a measuring pitcher; do not mix. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour the liquid contents from the pitcher into your mixing bowl of dry ingredients. Mix together until a ball of dough forms. The dough should be stick together well. If too dry, slowly add in more milk - 1 Tb at a time. If dough is shaggy, knead in more flour - 1 tsp at a time.
Do you know why we perceived October to have a distinct smell? There are three reasons for this phenomenon. According to Pamela Dalton, an olfactory scientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. the first reason is that odor molecules move more slowly in colder temperatures. This is why the smell of dumpsters and garbage trucks are more offensive in the summer. The second reason is physiological. Dalton explains that our olfactory receptors “bury” themselves further in our nose when it’s cooler. While the olfactory receptors bury themselves in cold air, the trigeminal nerve is stimulated, says Alan Hirsch, a neurologist and psychiatrist in Chicago. A smell is perceived as more intense when it triggers both these nerves. Further, psychological expectations affect the smells we perceive. As we anticipate the smells of spices, wood burning, and dying leaves, those are the things we experience.
A week ago, we took a family trip to a local nature center. Living in a city, it is nice to have a nature area with trails and wildlife near by. The boys enjoyed running around the trails to explore. Changing autumn leaves made for a lovely scene. We got the chance to have a close encounter with the deer in the park again. This time I was prepared with at least a phone camera. She watched us from a few yards off the pathway.
The autumn has a distinct smell that I had forgotten until we were out on the trails. In the city, leaves are quickly cleaned up and discarded. Out in the woods, they are free to travel through their life cycle. The smell is crisp, rich and earthy. I now appreciate this sensory experience.
Spices are more prevalent in traditional colder weather baking. Today’s recipe combines late season plums with spices, maple and toasted oatmeal crumble topping. This recipe has a clean option as coconut oil can be subbed for the butter and there is no refined sugar or refined flour. The warmth of maple, spices and subtle floral sweetness of plums is a welcome treat on a crisp fall day.
This crisp would be perfect for a quick harvest party dessert or a weeknight treat. I’d love to see your pictures when you make this recipe. Share them on social media with MamaSparrow tagged. Happy baking!
Serves 3/4 cup
Maple Plum Crisp – Clean
Yields 8-10 servings
The warmth of maple, spices and subtle floral sweetness of plums is a welcome treat on a crisp fall day.
10 minPrep Time
35 minCook Time
45 minTotal Time
4 ripe, but still crisp medium/large plums (approx. 4 cups)
1 1/2 Tb maple syrup
1 Tb wheat flour
1/8 tsp ginger, ground
1/2 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats, old fashioned
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes (or coconut oil)*
1/4 cup maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 350F. Peel, core and thinly slice the plums.
Place the prepared plums in a 2 quart baking dish or 9x9 inch metal pan.
Add the 1 1/2 Tb of maple syrup and 1 Tb of flour, stir till fruit is evenly coated. Sprinkle the fruit with the ginger.
In a medium bowl, combine the 1/2 cup flour, rolled oats and salt. Cut the cold butter into the oat mix. Stir in the 1/4 cup maple syrup.
With hands, crumble the oat mix evenly over the pan of fruit.
Bake for 35 minutes.
Let cool for 5 minutes. May serve warm or cold.
If your crisp survives past dessert, it makes a great breakfast the next day.
*Clean or Vegan option: substitute coconut oil for the butter.
There are three kinds of baked sweets I can recall from my packed lunches as a kid – my mom’s homemade muffins, strawberry newtons and fig newtons. When it came to the newtons, the strawberry ones made sense to me, but I thought fig was a made up flavor. I had never seen or eaten a fig before.
Last week I had my first taste of fig and played in the kitchen with them. They look so beautiful photographed. When figs started showing up at my local grocer this season, I took them home on a whim. Not sure what to make with them, they sat overnight and were spoiled by the next day. Fragile little things, they are.
Determined to try them, I sketched out a jam recipe adapted from Tasty Yummies. As I cut and prepped the figs, I nerd-ishly explored their flavor and scent profile. The resulting jam was tasty. After popping it in the fridge, I had dreams of cinnamon rolls and honey plum jam dance in my head all night.
Honey fig jam rolls are born of sophisticated, sweet dreams. They are a little like a mash-up of honey buns and fig newtons. Here you have honey fig jam tucked into blanket-y sweet roll dough and drizzled with velvety lemon frosting,
Honey Fig Rolls
Yields 9 rolls
Honey fig jam tucked into blanket-y sweet roll dough and drizzled with velvety lemon frosting.
25 minPrep Time
20 minCook Time
45 minTotal Time
2 ¾ cup flour
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
1 package instant yeast
½ cup water
¼ cup milk
2 Tb butter, unsalted
2 Tb butter, melted
1 cup honey fig jam* (recipe in notes)
½ - ¾ cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
warm water, if desired - a little to achieve consistency and tone done zestiness
Prepare the jam. The recipe makes 2 cups. Only one is needed for the rolls so make two batches of rolls, make a second batch of rolls soon or use your jam for other goodies.
Mix all the dry dough ingredients together in a medium size bowl. In a microwave safe bowl, combine the water, milk and butter. Heat for 45 seconds, or until the butter is melted. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry mix. Stir the egg in. Knead the dough for 4 minutes. Dough should get smooth, have a bit of grip and bounce. Rest the dough in a lightly greased bowl for 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
After the dough has rested, roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 9x15 inches. Spread the melted butter over the dough. Then spread about 1 cup of fig jam over top the butter on the dough. Leave 1 inch without jam on one of the long sides of the rectangle; this will be the seam. Starting at the long, not seam side, begin rolling the dough jelly roll style. End the log roll with the seam side down. Use a sharp, floured knife to cut the log into 9 sections to make rolls.
Place rolls into a 9x9 inch pan lightly greased and covered with greased parchment paper. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Turn off the oven and place the covered pan of rolls in the oven to rise for 20 minutes.
After rising, remove the aluminum cover from the rolls and leave in oven while turning on to 375 degrees F. Bake 16-20 minutes until the rolls just start to get golden. Remove from oven and top rolls with drizzle.
To make frosting, combine sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk together and add in warm water to adjust consistency and taste.
Honey Fig Jam* - recipe makes 2 cups jam
Adapted from Tasty-Yummies.com
15 figs, stems removed and quartered (1 Lb),
¾ cup honey,
⅛ cup water,
¼ cup lemon juice,
1 tsp lemon zest
Place figs, honey and water in a medium saucepan. Let sit and soften for 20 minutes.
Then place over burner on medium-high heat. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Reduce to low and keep on a simmer for 45 minutes. Stir often. Mash figs with a spoon while they cook.
After 45 minutes, keeping pan on the heat, stir in lemon juice and zest. Simmer an additional 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool. Place cooled jam in jars. Store in the refrigerator for 3 weeks or the freezer for 3 months.
Today is the first day of preschool for my oldest. I just dropped him off. The flood of emotion hit me strongest as I walked away from the school pushing my littlest bub in a stroller. I’m excited for him to enjoy this milestone. I’m also anxious for him to be comfortable and confident in his new environment. Fear is another part of this complex of emotion. Having a child with a food allergy makes trusting him in someone else’s care unnerving. The last feeling has only been heightened by the rawness of an serious reaction he had at a family potluck a couple of weeks ago.
While sending him off to school, several questions are bouncing around my mind. Will he inadvertently be offered food he shouldn’t have? Will classroom staff recognize a serious allergic reaction? Will he always be with someone who knows how to use his EpiPen? I have worried of being perceived as neurotic and rude. Naturally, it feels like a hassle to insist on reading the label oneself, inquire about the ingredients, ask if someone has washed their hands, used a different knife, if toys have been cleaned etc.
I can only speak from the experience I have had and understand that my experience may not be the same as yours. Perhaps this all does sound crazy to you or perhaps you may be able to relate. I am fine with either reaction. Today I am sympathetic of all parents sending their children off to school. Extra hugs go out to parents of children with allergies.
All this talk of emotion needs a little comfort food, I think. I am sharing a tomato basil sauce that is versatile and capitalizes on the peak season of tomatoes. The sauce is nice and light if made by the recipe. For a “meatier” version, toss in a bit of fennel seed. This sauce can been made in bulk and stored in the freezer for later use in the coming months.
If you have the chance to this sauce, please photos and tag mama_sparrow on social media. I would love to see how you use the sauce in your home. Enjoy!
Tomato Basil Sauce
Yields 2 - 2 1/2 cups or 8 servings
Fresh stove top roasted tomato sauce with fragrant basil, oregano and marjoram. Enjoy on your favorite noodles, vegetables or pizza. Preserve in the summer to freeze and enjoy through the winter.
5 minPrep Time
20 minCook Time
25 minTotal Time
1 Tb olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced small
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper, ground
¼ tsp fennel seed, optional for richer, darker sauce - best for “meat” or spaghetti use
¼ cup tomato paste
5 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1 Tb fresh oregano, finely chopped
Warm the olive oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add onion, garlic, marjoram, salt, pepper and optional fennel seed if using. Saute for 3 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate. Stir in the tomato, turn heat to high until it simmers. Reduce the temperature to medium and simmer uncovered for 10 - 15 minutes.
Remove pan of sauce from heat. Pour into food processor and blend till desired consistency. Add in the herbs and pulse a couple of times until they are incorporated.
Serve sauce immediate or store. May be kept in refrigerator for 4 days, 3 months in a standard freezer or 6 months in a deep freezer.
Recently, my little ones and I had an opportunity to travel and see family. Time with loved ones is cherished and seems to pass too quickly. While visiting, I made an observation. There are several trees in my folk’s yard that we planted as children. My favorites are the willow trees. This visit, they displayed noticeable growth indicative of trees, no longer saplings.
Since I have not stayed long enough in one place the last 10 years to observe nature’s progression, this observation of the trees was an impactful experience. I was struck with an awe of nature’s cadence. Well into adulthood, the marching of seasons has taken on the perspective of occurring at a rapid pace. The ripple of years has become a more visible breathing of nature. The rough intricacies of nature’s pattern provide a certain comfort and joy – perpetual and dependable.
While on the journey of eating fewer processed foods, I’ve been more attentive to what the earth provides in seasons. Eating the bounty of each season draws us into the cadence of Mother Earth. There is something deeply beautiful about this concept.Conscious eating is an extension of conscious living.
Peaches are rich with flavor, right now. This tart was inspired by my hope of making berry jam from the fleeting summer supply. The smashed raspberry layer is reminiscent of jam. No refined sugar here, the fruit layers are sweetened with honey. Topping with sliced peaches allows the star of the dessert to shine. These peaches were bursting with flavor.
I will leave you with the encouragement to live present, playful and peaceful days. Hopefully your present or near future will include enjoying late summer harvests that bring you true bliss. If you get the chance to make this tart, be sure to drop me a line and share your results on social media with MamaSparrow tagged.
Peach Raspberry Honey Tart
Wheat shortcrust with fresh smashed raspberries and honey drizzled prime season peaches. Enjoying the late season berry bounty, this tart is summer on a plate.
1 cup whole wheat flour
⅓ cup all purpose flour
½ cup powdered sugar*
10 Tbs butter**
1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen (add a little more cornstarch if using frozen berries)
2 Tbs honey
1 Tb flour
1 Tb cornstarch
1 Tb lemon zest (zest from one lemon)
Stone Fruit Topping
3 medium/large peaches, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
More honey to drizzle over top
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Mix together the flours and powdered sugar. Slowly add in the butter while mixing. Use a pastry blender or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Blend until the dough forms together.
Press the dough out by hand in a 9 inch round pie pan lined with parchment paper or tart pan. Sometime I like to make rustic free-hand formed tarts. Use fork to prick several holes in the bottom of the crust that will be covered with filling later. Place pressed out crust into the refrigerator for 5 minutes to help the butter in the crust keep shape. Bake the crust alone for 15 minutes or until crust is firm on the outside and slightly puffed.
Place ingredients for berry layer in a small bowl, mixing them together. Set the bowl aside while slicing the peaches.
Turn oven down to 350 degrees F. Spread the berry layer evenly over the prebaked crust. Arrange the peach slices over the berry layer. Bake the tart for 25 minutes or until the peaches are fork tender. Drizzle honey over the tart while still warm. Enjoy either warm or room temperature. Store at room temperature for a day or a couple of weeks in the freezer.
*to make refined sugar free, use coconut sugar ground to powder in a food processor
**to make dairy free & soy free, use Earth Balance soy free buttery sticks or your other favorite alternative
I have a spicy confession to make. Are you ready for it?
Cardamom spice is my new love. It has been added to most of the baked goods I’ve made the last few months.
Anyhow…the weather has been so hot and humid lately that today’s moderate weather felt surprising. We also spotted some fallen leaves this afternoon. Gasp. I cannot believe that summer has so quickly neared the end.
This is the first year we are prepping back to school things for our oldest’s first day of school. Another kind of turn in seasons. It seems like crazy talk when one’s babies are little and other parents say, “it goes so fast.” With little ones, each day seems an eternity. Now I understand “the days are long, but the years are short.”
Because I am not ready for this change in seasons, I am sharing a blooming cookie recipe with you. These spiced shortbreads with earl grey cream were one of those happy kitchen accidents. I tossed some spice in my cookies. While prepping the cookies I was savoring a spoon of lemon earl grey cream.
The flavors were perfect together, these cookies were born and I am urging to make a batch this weekend. In fact, don’t even wait till the weekend. Drop everything and run to the kitchen now. Then be sure to drop me a line and share your results on social media with MamaSparrow tagged.
Spice Shortbread Cookies
Peppery butter cookies with cardamom deepened flavor - hint of honeyed floral.
10 minPrep Time
13 minCook Time
23 minTotal Time
1 stick butter
3 Tbs granulated sugar
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 ⅛ cup all purpose flour
In a medium bowl, cream the butter with the first 3 Tbs of granulated sugar. Blend in the vanilla extract, black pepper, and cardamom. Mix in all the flour just until dough forms. Use hands to form dough into a log shape. Cover or wrap the dough and chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Once dough has chilled you can either cut cookie rounds directly from the cookie log or roll the dough out with a rolling pin and cut with a cookie cutter.
Place cookies 1-2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake cookies for 10-15 minutes just until they set. Allow to brown lightly on the edges.
Tips for Cutting Cookies
Log cut: if dough is firm enough, simply cut with a butter knife creating 1/4 inch thick cookie rounds. If dough is on the softer side, use a 6 inch piece of plain dental floss to cut the rounds. Slide the floss under the log about 1/4 inch in from the end. Grip each end of the floss. Cross your hands in opposite directions over the dough to create a "cut." Repeat until all dough has been cut into cookie discs.
Not only is earl grey satisfying as a cup of hot tea. It is incredibly tasty when paired with lemon in food. I enjoy typing questions into a google search just to see the results. Recently I typed, “why is earl grey and lemon so good together”. An astounding number of pages filled with lemon earl grey recipes flooded by results page. So, if you are also a fan of this combo, you will be pleased to know there are many explored culinary treats to be found.
Today, I am adding one more lemon earl grey goody to the list – lemon earl grey curd. I have been dying to share this recipe with you. I urge you, I implore you….make this cream. It will change your life.
Lemon Earl Grey Curd
Zesty sweet lemon curd infused with earl grey tea
6.25 TB unsalted butter, softened
12.5 grams or 9 tsp loose leaf tea
½ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed + 2 TB
1 ⅜ cup sugar or 1 ¼ cup honey
2 egg whites
Pinch of salt
In a saucepan, melt just until it becomes liquid. Mix in the tea leaves. Keep on low heat for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve squeezing the tea leaves to release as much butter as possible. Set butter aside till it comes to room temperature.
Cream the butter and honey together in a stand mixer. Add the eggs and egg whites one at a time mixing well. Blend in the salt. Slowly add the lemon juice as the mixer is going.
Create a double boiler by filling a saucepan with about an inch of water. Place the mix in a stainless steel bowl that will fit atop of the saucepan or leave in your stand mixer’s stainless steel bowl. Bring the water in the saucepan to a simmer. Place the stainless steel bowl with the mixture atop the simmering saucepan. Constantly stir* mixture until the honey or sugar is completely incorporated and the curd thickens. This should take about 10 minutes.
Remove the bowl from heat and place on a hot pad holder. Continue stirring the mix for several more minutes as it cools. The mixture will thicken more as it cools.
Your curd will keep in the refrigerator for about 1 week and in the freezer for 1 month.
*Note about stirring
Stir constantly. Use a spoon or spatula. Avoid using a whisk as that would create air in the mixture.
**Dairy Free Option:
Substitute the butter with Earth Balance soy-free vegan "buttery" sticks.
My Minnesotan roots are feeling pretty good right now. I have wild rice soaking. There is a strawberry rhubarb dessert baking in the oven. Presently, I am shucking corn for tonight’s dinner.
As I shuck the corn, the tactile and olfactory experience ushers in fond childhood memories. I feel myself in the backyard of a small river town. I am sitting on a white plastic swing of a bright blue children’s play set. I shuck ear after ear of corn, discarding the silk and husks into a brown paper grocery bag. There is a chorus of birds and the odd rhythmic beat of insects. The air is thick with the smell of sweet ripening vegetation and a hint of lilac from the shrub around the side of the house.
Summer’s rich joy of freshly harvested food is an experience I enjoy every returning season. Strawberries and rhubarb are a magical combination. These bars have a buttery shortbread base. The strawberries and rhubarb are sweetened with honey – cooked into a sweet compote and spread over the crust. The compote is topped with spiced oatmeal crumble.
The smell when these emerge from the oven is too much to not enjoy a few nibbles. The bars are best chilled in the refrigerator they are more set up for serving.
I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!
The pan getting raided while I snap pictures
Strawberry Rhubarb Bars
Yields 24 bars
Shortbread crust with honey, strawberry and rhubarb compote and topped with spiced oatmeal crumble. These sweet and tart bars are tasty when served chilled.
10 minPrep Time
60 minCook Time
1 hr, 10 Total Time
2 cups strawberries; hulled and quartered
2 cups rhubarb; thinly sliced
1 Tb lemon juice
4 Tb honey
4 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 ⅔ cup flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 ⅓ cup butter
⅛ tsp ground ginger
⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ cup rolled oats
Combine ingredients for compote in a medium saucepan mixing well so fruit is covered in rest of ingredients. Cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes. The fruit should be tender and the liquids thickening into a compote texture (medium bodied shiny syrup). Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mix all base crust ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Use forks or a pastry blender to combine until a ball of dough forms. Once the ingredients are mixed, but still crumbly, I like to use my hands to finish the mixing process. Roll the dough into a tube shape and pull of ¼ the dough to leave in the mixing bowl. Place the other ¾ of the dough into a 9x13 inch cake pan. Bake 350 F for 15 minutes. The crust should just begin to puff and slightly color.
While the crust is baking, add the ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon to the remaining crust in the mixing bowl. Gently work the spices into the dough with hands. Once the spice are worked in, add the oats to the bowl and work them in, as well. Set the topping dough into the freezer.
Remove the pre-baked crust from the oven and reduce oven temperature to 325 F. Spread the fruit compote over the hot crust. Pull the topping dough out of the freezer. Crumble the dough evenly over the compote topped crust. Some the fruit layer should still be showing. Return to oven and bake 40-45 minutes. Cool and cut into bars.