Thursday, May 20, 2010

Art in the Park in Ypsilanti

Art in the Park YpsilantiDon't forget to stop by this Saturday for Art in the Park!
It's a fundraiser for the Ypsilanti Senior Community Center featuring over 25 independent crafters and artists.
AND there will be raffle prizes and fun activities for the kiddos!
Come on down!

Saturday, May 22, 2010
10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Recreation Park Complex
Senior and Community Center
1015 N. Congress
Ypsilanti, MI

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ginger or no? Rhubarb compote two ways


Rhubarb is such a welcome harbinger of spring — its bright red stalks brightening up early spring days. The last house I lived in had a huge rhubarb patch and the previous owner sent me handwritten recipes for all her favorite rhubarb dishes. I tried all kinds of cakes and jams, but never really made a simple compote. Last weekend I decided to try my hand at one but couldn't decide what flavors to mix. Ginger? Vanilla? Orange? I decided to make two batches — one with everything and one with just orange. I also tried two different cooking techniques.


I roasted the first batch in the oven with everything but the kitchen sink: ginger, vanilla, orange and lemon.

Roasted Rhubarb Compote
Juice of 1 1/2 medium oranges
Juice of 1/2 medium lemon
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 tsp freshly grated ginger root
1 1/2 to 2 cups rhubarb
Zest from 1 medium orange

Combine the orange and lemon juices in a saucepan and add the sugar. Scrape the seeds from the split vanilla bean into the pan and add the ginger. Cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture has reduced to a thick syrup.

Place rhubarb in an 8x8 glass baking dish and pour syrup over. Toss to coat. Cover with foil and bake in oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake for 10 minutes more.

This one is okay, although still very tart. I might up the sugar next time, reduce the ginger and leave out the lemon. Hmm… on to number two.

rhubarb compote recipe
The second method lets the rhubarb cook slowly in its own juices.

Simple Rhubarb Compote
3 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 Tb orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
3 Tb freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Combine all in a medium saucepan and simmer over low heat for 20-25 minutes.

rhubarb compote recipe
I much preferred the taste of this method — especially without the ginger. Try it over greek yogurt with a little granola sprinkled on top. I even tried to make my own yogurt this past weekend, but it didn't work out so well. (It's still on my kitchen counter, not thickening!) I'll keep you posted on my progress with that one!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Home Alone: Asparagus pie

Savory Asparagus pie recipeThe boy was out of town this weekend and I think it may very well have been the first time I've spent a weekend alone in our apartment. Yikes! Of course, leading up to it, I had all kinds of visions of me with superhuman energy: hiking 100 miles, cooking 40 new dishes, drawing 100 new drawings in a day, reading 12 books. You know, the usual. Obviously, this didn't happen, but I did spend some time in the woods — and in the kitchen. I tried a few new recipes with some successes and some flops. I'll be sharing them throughout the week. Today, the crown jewel. Utterly delicious and decadent.

Savory Asparagus pie recipe
Asparagus Pie
Adapted from Not Eating Out in New York

For the crust:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt
10 Tb cold unsalted butter, cut to 1/2-inch cubes

3-4 Tb ice water
Milk for brushing

For the filling:

1 large bunch asparagus, ends trimmed; reserve 4 good-looking long stalks and chop the rest to 1/2″ bias-cut slices

1 Tb butter

1 medium onion, chopped

8 oz. crème fraîche

3.5 oz. chèvre goat cheese

1 egg

2 Tb chopped fresh chives
1 Tb lemon juice

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

Combine the flour, sugar and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or two knives (or pulse in a food processor) until mixture resembles fine crumbs with the butter chunks no larger than a pea. Add the ice water a little at a time until mixture just clumps together in a ball. Shape dough with your hands into one large ball and another ball about 1/4 its size. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes (or up to overnight).

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Heat a heavy-bottomed pan with 1 tablespoon of butter on very low heat. Add the chopped onions, and let sweat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure they don’t brown. Once onions are translucent and just slightly caramelized, remove from heat and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the creme fraiche and chevre. Mix with a spatula to combine. Add the egg, and whisk mixture until fully blended. Add lemon juice, salt, pepper, nutmeg and chives. Add the chopped asparagus slices and the cooled onions and mix with spatula.

Roll out the large ball of chilled dough on a lightly floured surface, or on waxed/parchment paper. Transfer to the bottom of a greased 9″ pie pan. It doesn't have to be pretty, just get it in there! (If not using this immediately, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.)

Savory Asparagus pie recipe

Roll the smaller ball of dough into a long, thin oval. (If really difficult to roll, squish it together with your hands and fold waxed paper over top — roll with dough in between the pieces of waxed paper. Again, doesn't have to be perfect — mine sure wasn't.) Slice it into 6-8 strips for the lattice crust (can be any width you desire!).

Savory Asparagus pie recipe

Pour the asparagus filling into the pan with the bottom pie crust and smooth top with a spatula.

Slice the reserved asparagus stalks carefully into halves, lengthwise. Place one asparagus stalk lengthwise down the center. Lay a pastry strip down the center perpendicular to the asparagus. Lay another two asparagus stalks (alternating between the blunt end and the flower tip side by side) to the right and left of the pastry strip. Lay two pastry strips to the top and bottom of the asparagus stalks, gently tucking the middle part of the strip underneath the middle asparagus stalk to create a basketweave. Continue weaving in this manner until you reach the ends of the pie.

Arrange any leftover pastry along the top of the pie’s edge and distribute pieces until the pastry edge is fairly even in bulk all around and well-integrated. Crimp or pinch edges in whichever manner you prefer.

Savory Asparagus pie recipe

Brush top of pie with milk or egg wash (optional), and bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until top is just lightly browned. If edges are browning too quickly, cover edges with foil as shown above. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

Savory Asparagus pie recipe