May 28, 2013

Rhubarb pie

Rhubarb season is here and we are lucky to have access to a lot of it through our family's gardens. Last year I made this amazing spiced rhubarb cake and these delicious rhubarb bars, but this year I wanted to make a plain old-fashioned rhubarb pie. Not one with strawberries - just rhubarb. I do like the strawberry-rhubarb combination, but strawberries aren't ready yet around here. My husband and I don't eat a lot of sugar and when I bake I almost always cut the sugar down in the recipes. I was pretty generous on the sugar in this one, but if you are used to very sweet desserts, you may want to increase it another 1/4 cup or so. It will also depend on how pungent your rhubarb is. Ours was on the sour side.... my first bite made me regret not adding more sugar, but my second and third did not. I thought it was quite perfect and really made the rhubarb flavor itself shine, rather than try to cover it with sweetness. Plus, it allowed me to add a small scoop of vanilla ice cream without having a sugar overload and it brought the whole dish to a perfect level of sweetness for me. My rhubarb was also very juicy and fresh, so the pie was a bit on the runny side, but that's OK with me.

May 24, 2013

Sesame chicken and broccoli stir-fry

Making stir-fry is one of my favorite quick weeknight dinners and as the weather warms I find myself making them more and more. The weather here has been surprisingly hot already so I've been spending as little time in the kitchen as possible. For this dish, I wanted to make something like sesame chicken (one of my favorite Chinese take-out dishes), but without deep frying. Plus, I wanted to incorporate some vegetables into the dish, especially some broccoli for my broccoli-loving husband. The results were a lightly and tasty stir-fry full of sesame flavor.

So it's getting close to another summer and we find ourselves still in an apartment. We thought for sure we'd be in a house by now, but life hasn't worked out that way... Apartment living in the summer can be really rough.... especially uppers where it gets extra hot. There's no escape for eating or cooking outside. Luckily, we are able to have a small container garden and we put that in last weekend. We planted a bunch of herbs (sweet basil, Thai basil, chives, tarragon, oregano, lavender, mint, etc.), lettuces, and tomatoes. Hopefully we'll be in a house by the end of the year! It's tough for two outdoorsy people who grew up in a rural area to be without any land.

May 19, 2013

Cold German potato salad

I remember eating German potato salad at family and other picnics as a kid and not being a big fan. I'm pretty sure that most of it came from a can and I remember it being very sour tasting. There's a hot and a cold potato salad recipe in The German Cookbook that I've been waiting to try. This is the cold version and it's reminiscent of the potato salad I remember, but better. I am a big fan of potatoes and vinegar together, so I was fairly confident that I'd enjoy the homemade version and I was correct. The salad would be perfect for all the upcoming summer picnics because it lacks dairy and gets better the longer the potatoes soak in the vinegar and other flavors. This recipe will serve about four people as a side dish, but you can easily double or triple it for a larger crowd. Hopefully you can find some good sweet German mustard in your grocery store or specialty foods shop. We buy it at Spar's European Sausage Shop (which, by the way, is an excellent place to pick up something to go with this salad).

May 8, 2013

Creamy potato and ramp soup

Do you forage? Foraging is something relatively new for me and it started when my husband introduced me to the ramp. These little wild alliums are ready to eat in the spring and are fleeting like the spring wildflowers. They are delicious, pungent, and fill your house with the smell of onion and garlic. My husband and I were recently featured in our local paper in an article and recipe on foraging, specifically for ramps. This is the same recipe I wrote for the paper and since my husband brought home some ramps the other day, I figured I should make this soup again and get it up on my blog. 

While foraging is a wonderful way to get close to nature and your food, you must remember three important rules: 1) know what you are picking and eating; 2) only take a few (you don't want to decimate a patch); and 3) no trespassing.

This recipe will make a large pot of soup - enough for about 4-5 large bowls. You can make it in the slow cooker (which I did for this version) or on the stove (which I did in the article). I served it topped with some finely sliced ramp greens, but you can also top it with some sour cream, minced parsley, and/or even a little cooked and crumbled bacon.