In my attempt to keep up with the bounty of strawberries and rhubarb in my garden, I revisited a recipe I've had for 35 years... Did I just write 35 years? That's almost impossible to believe. But it's been even longer that I've been clipping, writing ...

 

Bread Pudding with Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce and more...




Bread Pudding with Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce


     In my attempt to keep up with the bounty of strawberries and rhubarb in my garden, I revisited a recipe I've had for 35 years... Did I just write 35 years?  That's almost impossible to believe.  But it's been even longer that I've been clipping, writing down, bookmarking, copying, and tearing out recipes and filing them away -- into BIG files.  And maybe that's why this recipe for bread pudding with strawberry-rhubarb sauce has gotten overlooked the past few years.  Six years, to be exact, since I last made this recipe.  But thanks to the abundance of strawberries (some days yielding 5 pounds) and my endless supply of rhubarb (good thing I like it so much), my attack plan has been to default to a super easy strawberry-rhubarb sauce.  And that reminded me of this simple bread pudding.  When served warm, or at room temperature with the chilled sauce, it is heaven.


     I have so many strawberries, I added some to the top of the bread pudding before baking.  A sweet little addition.  
     And don't limit the strawberry-rhubarb sauce just to bread pudding... cornmeal waffles, vanilla ice cream, french toast, and yogurt all benefit from a serving of this sauce, just to name a few... 




Country Living Magazine | 1982

• 12 to 14 slices from a French Baguette, 1/2-inch thick
• 3 to 4 tablespoons soft butter
• 3 large eggs
• 2 cups whole milk, or half milk-half cream
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• Pinch of sea salt
• Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce, recipe follows
1.  Heat oven to 350˚F.  Butter a 10-inch round or other shallow 2 quart baking dish.  Butter each slice of bread on one side and arrange, buttered side down, in the dish with sides of the bread touching or overlapping slightly.
2.  Beat together the eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and salt until well-blended.  Pour over the bread slices.  Allow the bread to soak up the custard for about 10 minutes.
3.  Bake on the shelf just above the center of the oven for about 40 minutes, or until golden brown and slightly puffed and crusty.  Serve hot or warm with the Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce.


STRAWBERRY-RHUBARB SAUCE

• 3 1/2 cups fresh rhubarb, 1-inch pieces
• 1 pound fresh strawberries, sliced in half (quartered if large)
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 tablespoon finely grated organic orange peel
1.  In a medium-sized enameled saucepan, combine all the ingredients and let stand 10 minutes.  Stir again, cover, and bring to a simmer over low heat.  Increase heat and bring to a gentle boil, uncovered, over moderate heat.  Cook until rhubarb is tender, but not mushy.


                
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Lemon Layer Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Buttercream


     There are three birthdays in our family during the months of April and May.  When my girls were little, their birthday cakes were almost always chocolate, filled with sweet cherries, and frosted with whipped heavy cream.  But lately, I ask what I should bake them for their birthdays.  They never reply with a flavor or a type of cake.  They do research for days, if not weeks, for a recipe they like, never taking into consideration the complexity or the availability of certain ingredients.  I guess I should be flattered that my daughters have faith in my ability to pull off whatever it is they choose.


     The recipe for this lemon layer cake appeared in my inbox, sent to me by my lemon-loving daughter about a week before her birthday.  I made the lemon curd filling and the lemon cream cheese buttercream three days ahead and the cake layers the day before I planned to assemble it, making it seem less labor intensive.  If you love lemon, this cake's for you.  It really was fabulous and I liked it even more after a couple of days when the flavors merged and became more intense. 


     I received an Ateco 612 Revolving Cake Stand this year and it makes all the difference in frosting a cake.  If you bake a lot of cakes and don't have one of these... get one!

Picture

     The big candied violet on top was purchased by my sister on a recent trip to Germany.  Loved it!  I suppose I need to start growing organic violets, too...     
    


Lemon Layer Cake

Recipe, slightly adapted, from the website, MyCakeSchool.com

Lemon Curd
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1/4 cup cornstarch
• 1 cup water
• 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (preferably organic)
• 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1.  Combine sugar, cornstarch and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly, until mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Boil, stirring, for 1 minute more.. Remove the pan from the heat. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the hot mixture into a small bowl with egg yolks and stir quickly until combined. Continue stirring, while pouring the egg mixture back into the saucepan. Return pan to medium heat and cook, stirring, until the curd is thickened (1-2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the butter, lemon juice, and lemon zest.  Let the lemon curd cool, then press plastic wrap onto the surface, this will prevent a skin from forming on the top. Refrigerate.


Lemon Cream Cheese Buttercream
• 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, slightly softened but still cool to touch
• 2  8oz packages full fat cream cheese, slightly softened
• 2 teaspoons lemon juice
• 1  1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
• 1  teaspoons lemon extract
• 6 to 6 1/2 cups powdered (confectioner's) sugar, adding more if necessary
1.  Cut butter into 1/2 inch slices and place in the bowl of your mixer.  Beat until smooth.

2.  Cut the cream cheese into pieces and add to the butter.  Beat until blended.
3.  Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and lemon extract.
4.  Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until well blended.
5.  Refrigerate frosting until needed.  Allow frosting to soften slightly and remix before using.  Do not microwave to soften.  There will be enough frosting for a 3 layer, 8 or 9-inch cake.


Lemon Cake Layers
• 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional butter for greasing pans
• 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
• 4 large eggs, room temperature
• 3 cups cake flour
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 cup milk
• 1/4 cup lemon juice
• 1/4 cup canola oil or vegetable oil (preferably expeller pressed)
• zest of 2 lemons
• 1 tablespoon lemon extract

1.  PREHEAT OVEN to 350 degrees.
2.  Grease three 8-inch cake pans.  Line the base of each pan with a round of waxed paper; grease the paper and dust the interior of the pans with flour, tapping out any excess flour.
3.  In a medium bowl add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and zest of 2 lemons.  Whisk to blend and set aside.
4.  In another bowl, add the milk, canola or vegetable oil, lemon juice, and lemon extract.  Whisk to blend and set aside.
5.  In the bowl of a mixer, beat the softened butter until smooth.  Gradually add the sugar and mix on medium speed 3 to 5 minutes until it is light in color and fluffy.
6.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until the yellow of the yolk disappears.
7.  Add the flour mixture and the milk mixture alternately, beginning and ending with the flour (3 additions of flour and 2 of milk).  Mix on medium speed until combined and smooth.  Do not overmix.

8.  Pour the batter into the prepared pans, smoothing the tops.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out.

ASSEMBLY
1.  Pipe a dam of lemon cream cheese buttercream about 1/4-inch inside the edge of the first layer.  Spread a thin layer of lemon curd inside the buttercream, then pipe and spread a layer of buttercream on top of it.  Repeat with the second layer.  Top with the third layer cake.
2.  Crumb coat the entire cake with a thin layer of the buttercream frosting.  Refrigerate the cake for about 30 minutes, remove from refrigerator and finish frosting the cake with the lemon cream cheese buttercream.  Refrigerate the cake if not eating immediately.  Pull the cake from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving.  And as I said earlier, I really think it tastes even better the next day.




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Farro with Orange, Avocado, and Arugula


     I've become a farro fanatic.  I have been making salads lately with farro and whatever  fruits, vegetables, and nuts are available in my kitchen.  Last night's dinner consisted of farro with Cara Cara oranges, avocados, arugula... etc.  I will show -- with approximate amounts used -- my recipe below.  It's hard to go wrong creating your own signature salad.  Just fill it full of combinations you love.  From January until spring, my diet contains large amounts of citrus.  I just crave it this time of year.  If I'm eating a green salad, it most likely contains oranges (blood orange + CaraCara being my favorites), very thinly sliced red onion, and almonds... and a vinegrette using the juice of the oranges and a peppery olive oil; basically how I made my farro salad. Tonight, possibly a farro risotto!



Feel free to change the amounts of the ingredients to your liking...
• 1 cup farro
• 3 cups water
• Salt & pepper
• 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
• 3 large oranges, supremed, and any juices (from the cutting and squeezing of supremed oranges) reserved
• 2 avocados, sliced
• 1/2 cup (more or less) thinly-sliced red onion
• 2 handfuls arugula
• Good quality extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/2 cup toasted, slivered almonds
• 3/4 cup Feta cheese, crumbled

1.  Toast the farro in a dry saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until it smells nutty, about 3 minutes. Add the water and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover partially, and cook until the farro is tender but still chewy, about 40 minutes.  Drain farro in a colander.
2.  In a large serving bowl, combine the farro, chicken, orange segments (see above to learn how to supreme an orange), avocados, red onion, and arugula.
3.  Using the reserved orange juices, make a vinegrette with equal amounts of juice and olive oil whisked together.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add vinegrette to the farro mixture and toss gently.
4.  Top the salad with the crumbled Feta and toasted almonds.





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Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies

     
     I'm slowly making my way back into the kitchen.  My husband and I took our first trip in two years without our French Bulldog, Bisous.  We went to a part of the U.S. we love, Sonoma and Napa Valleys, where we were welcomed by temperatures in the low 70's.  If you spent any time in Minnesota during this past winter, you will understand just how much we enjoyed northern California's weather...
     The moment we returned home we headed straight for our veterinary clinic to pick up Bisous, where he had surgery for patella luxation the previous week.  Recovery involves 8 weeks of physical therapy, meds, no stairs, no jumping on furniture, etc.  My biggest fear is, when the 8 weeks are up we will find he still has a damaged knee; keeping Bisous still is not an easy feat.  I never knew a Frenchie could be as physically active as Bisous.  I have known many French Bulldogs through the years and not one has come close to Bisous' energy level.  Right before I started noticing the limp/skip in Bisous' step, I saw him racing circles through our backyard moments before he flew over an entire raised bed in our garden.  His size, weight, and activity level have not been his body's friend.  In the information that was sent home with us from our vet, I read that 30 to 40 percent of dogs that have patella luxation in one knee will eventually have it in the other.  The best thing I can do for Bisous is cut back on the amount of food he eats.  Bisous was given to us by the breeder, at eight weeks of age, with Giardia.  He was on heavy duty, hard on his system, meds for over four months.  During that time we did everything possible to get him to eat, since the drugs killed his appetite.  He now loves his food and sits in front of his empty bowl staring into it and crying.  It's hard not to give him everything he wants.



     I have not left our house since we brought Bisous home.  Up until yesterday I have always been here with him.  But we went next door last night for dinner (easy enough to run home occasionally and check on B).  I made an appetizer (one that I need to bake again and photograph) plus, the cookies in this post.  The Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread is a recipe by Alison Roman; photos of which are all over Instagram.  NYT Cooking shared the recipe, and... voila! ... dessert last night along with Rudesheim Coffee.  The falling snow outdoors was the perfect backdrop. 



Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies

•recipe by Alison Roman, via NYT Cookiing
•yield: 24 cookies

• 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons salted butter, cold (room temp if you're using a handheld mixer), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1/4 cup light brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 6 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet dark chocolate chopped (not too fine, you want chunks, not little shards)
• 1 large egg, beaten
• Demerara sugar, for rolling
• Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling

1.  Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or an electric hand mixer, beat the butter, both sugars, and vanilla on medium-high till it's super light and fluffy (3-5 minutes for a stand mixer; 6-8 for a hand mixer).  Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl and, with the mixer on low, slowly add the flour, followed by the chocolate chunks, and mix just to blend.  If necessary, knead the dough with your hands to make sure the flour is totally incorporated.  At this point, the dough should be smooth with no pockets of flour.
2.  Divide the dough in half, placing each half on a large piece of plastic wrap.  Use the plastic wrap and your hands to form the dough into a log shape.  Rolling on the counter will help to smooth it out.  Each half should form a 6-inch log, 2 to 2 1/4-inches in diameter (my logs ended up around 7-inches).  Chill until totally firm, about two hours.
3.  Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Brush the outside of the logs with the beaten egg and roll them in the demerara sugar.
4.  This is where I found I needed to let the logs warm up a bit.  When I tried to slice the first cookie, it crumbled into pieces.  I kept my dough in the refrigerator overnight and it was hard.  I probably gave them about 10 minutes before I gently began slicing the dough with the serrated knife.  Position your fingers on the dough where you are slicing.  It's a bit awkward, but I had two fingers on the end of the log with the serrated knife between them and the rest of my hand.  If any of the dough breaks off, gently press it into the cookie once on the baking sheet.  These cookies are very forgiving.  Place them on the prepared baking sheets, spacing 1-inch apart.  Sprinkle with the flaky salt.  Bake until the edges are just beginning to brown, approximately 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly before sitting down with a glass of cold milk and trying not to eat them all!




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Hello 2018!


     I thought it was time I made an appearance, before LivingTastefully no longer recognizes me and refuses to let me post onto my blog.
     I also want to let you know what I've been up to the past couple of months.  You might find this hard to believe, but I haven't been spending as much time in my kitchen.  I have a new granddaughter who was born in September.  Monday is Liv's day with "Oma Lady"... a name not chosen by me.  The other days of the week, I am usually in my studio (a.k.a. the sunroom).  I started painting again last spring after stopping 45 years ago (geez, that's a long time!) when, at the last minute, I switched from painting to fiber before classes started at the Kansas City Art Institute.  It scared me how consumed I was by painting and didn't think I could live like that.  I'm seeing signs of it again now, but I'm so happy to be painting it doesn't matter.  I feel I have so much lost time to make up.  I had always painted in oils, but decided this time to plunge into watercolor.  It's a struggle.  I found oils easy... watercolor for me is a challenge.  I like to layer...
     After doing a couple of paintings for Liv, my daughter convinced me to start a little business with her.  It will be called Winks & Inks Design.  I abhor the business part of anything I do creatively. That's my daughter's job in our collaboration.  But she has recently returned to her real job after having baby Liv and that has slowed down the launch of Winks & Inks.  Our offerings will consist of birth certificates for framing, invitations, etc., and what I've really enjoyed... paintings with French phrases.  Of course, dogs are playing a starring role in all of these.  The majority of items will be archival pigment ink prints (giclée, if you like), but I will also have some originals for sale, framed in vintage frames (examples below).  I have my sister to thank for that.  She deals in European antiques (German and French) and concentrates heavily on frames and mirrors -- tramp art being both of our passion.  Although, she deals in what I consider rare and sometimes extravagant frames, I prefer them to be very simple. 

    














Picture

    


     I may occasionally put framed paintings and prints that are available onto Instagram.  If interested, follow me HEREThose of you as passionate about French Bulldogs as I am, can also see the occasional photo of Bisous on my Instagram.  He will be, unfortunately, having surgery this month on a Luxating Patella.  Oddly enough, this hasn't slowed him down.  But the constant limping/skipping made it quite obvious that something was terribly wrong.  He/we will endure an 8 week recovery.  Anyone who knows Bisous well, understands how difficult those 8 weeks will be.  Bisous is not about sitting still. 
     And above...  the Bacon, Green Peas, and Tarragon Tart (recipe HERE).  This tart, and several other recipes, are in David Lebovitz's latest book, L'appart, where he writes about the grueling year-long purchase and renovation of his home in the 10th arrondissement of Paris.  This book totally confirmed my husband's belief that buying an apartment in Paris (or France for that matter) would not be in our best interest.  This week, for the second time this year, I will be making David's French Beef Stew with Olives (also in the book).  My son-in-law said he could eat it everyday.  I might have to agree with him.  The deep-freeze has returned and this stew is perfect Minnesota winter food!