Friday, September 30, 2011

2-7. Strawberry-Rhubarb Coffe Cake (V)

I have always been fascinated with the rhubarb plant with its giant, inedible leaves and thick, juicy stems. It is a gardener's friend because rhubarb is one of two vegetable plants that return season after season. (Asparagus is the other one).

Rhubarb, although actually a high-calcium, tangy-tasting vegetable, has been categorized as a fruit because most rhubarb recipes contain sugar.

The most famous use for this flavorful stalk is to companion it with strawberries in a pie. Rhubarb is affectionately called the "pie plant".

The recipe for Strawberry-Rhubarb Coffee Cake is deliciously flavorful as well as colorful. It makes a wonderful addition to breakfast or brunch. It also gives me another reason to love this fruit!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Coffee Cake

Fruit Layer:

1 ½ C fresh or frozen (thawed), rhubarb, 1-inch pieces
8 oz frozen, sliced strawberries, thawed
½ C sugar
2 ½ T cornstarch


1 ½ C flour
½ C sugar
½ tsp each baking soda, baking powder and salt
pinch of cinnamon
1 stick butter or margarine

½ C milk
1 egg, beaten
½ tsp almond extract

1/3 C sugar
2 T flour
2 T butter or margarine
2 T coconut, flaked

Combine the strawberries and the rhubarb in a small saucepan. Heat on medium for about 5 minutes. Chop rhubarb pieces in half. Combine the sugar and the cornstarch well and add to the fruit mixture. Cook and stir until mixture is thickened. Cool.

In a large bowl, combine next 6 ingredients. Mix well. Cut in the ½ C butter with a fork until the mixture is crumbly. In another bowl, combine the milk, egg and almond. Beat well. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir until moistened. Spread the batter in a greased 8x8 baking pan. Spread the cooled strawberry filling evenly over the batter. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and flour. Cut in the butter until crumbly. Add the coconut and mix evenly. Sprinkle the topping mixture over the fruit mixture.

Bake 350 for 40 minutes or until evenly browned on top. Remove and cool before serving. Makes 9 serving squares.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

2-6 Parmesan Green Beans

While I do support the idea of having dried, canned and frozen food-storage on hand for emergencies or difficult economic times, fresh food will always have center stage on my menu. I love it when I pick fruit and vegetables from a bin and take them home for immediate use...that is the best!

Although the end of summer means less of that fabulous local garden abundance, at a recent September  farmers' market, I was able to find beautiful tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers and summer squash still in good supply. I greedily loaded bags with these fresh items, and could hardly wait to take them home to begin another taste adventure.

Some of the tomatoes were destined to become fresh tomato sauce and others were sliced or chopped to garnish egg dishes, sandwiches and other vegetables. What wonderful taste sensations!

My favorite culinary creation, however, was comprised of steamed, fresh green beans with butter served over a satisfying Parmesan pasta and topped with chopped tomato. Not only were the colors amazingly inviting, but the wonderful combination of flavors surprised even delicious.

Parmesan Green Beans For Two

Fresh green beans, stem end removed
Fettuccine  or (homemade egg noodles, recipe #255)
Butter or Smart Balance Margarine
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Fresh tomato, chopped
Pepper blend

All quantities for this recipe are according to the appetite of those served.

Wash and remove stem end of beans. Steam gently until crisp tender. Meanwhile, cook desired amount of fettuccine according to package directions. If using homemade noodles, cook in boiling, salted water until al dente…do not over cook.

Coarsely chop 1/2 C of fresh tomatoes per serving.

Drain cooked pasta and add 1-2 T butter per serving. Toss to melt butter and coat pasta evenly. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and pepper blend; mix gently. Drain beans, add butter and toss to coat evenly. 

Place buttered, seasoned pasta on plates; top with buttered green beans and finish off with chopped tomatoes. Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese if desired. Serve immediately.