Gluten-Free Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp

>> Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Whew! I've emerged on the other side of the flood and the blood tests. Results are: New Kitchen and Gluten-Intolerance. So there we have it. Nothing to do but cook!

Lately I've been craving rhubarb. I grew up with a rhubarb patch in my backyard. I generally ate it raw, yanking a stalk out of the ground, rinsing it and munching away. For those who are not familiar with it, it looks a lot like swiss chard or collard greens but with a thicker stalk. The leaves are poisonous but the stalk is perfectly edible and has the texture of celery and a sour/bitter taste like nothing else in the world. Truly singular. I was lucky enough to find the very last rhubarb of the season at the Santa Monica farmers market so I snatched it up along with some small, sweet gaviota strawberries.

I devised a strawberry rhubarb crisp to serve as dessert after a cedar plank salmon and rice dinner. I made all this for a group of friends who were kind enough to act as recipe guinea pigs while I dusted off my apron in the new kitchen.

- 4 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 3 cups rhubarb cut into 1/4" - 1/3" pieces
- 2 1/2 tbsp corn starch
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (I used a Meyer lemon for more flavor)
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Biscuit and Baking Mix
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 stick unsalted butter

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix fruit with corn starch, sugar, lemon juice and zest and the sea salt. Allow mixture to sit for 20 - 30 minutes.

Mix flour mixture and brown sugar. Melt butter and add to dry ingredients mixing with a fork.

Place fruit in baking dish and top with the crisp ingredients, spreading the pasty mixture across the top so that no large holes remain

Bake for 40 minutes or until the juice begins to bubble up through the crust and the crust is browning at the edges

Serve warm with ice cream (I used Haagen Dazs Five in Brown Sugar flavor. It was PERFECT!)


When it rains, it floods...

>> Tuesday, June 16, 2009

OK, so rain actually has nothing to do with it. About a week ago, my sous chef and I came home from a movie to a kitchen flooded with water. We mopped it up and called a plumber who discovered that our garbage disposal was so old and rotting that he could poke holes through it with a pencil. After a quick disposal replacement, I called my insurance agent to send someone out to look at our now puffy Pergo floor.

They sent out a company to check out the floor and the cabinets. They determined that floor could not be salvaged but the cabinets could. They ripped out the floor and popped off the toe kicks on the cabinets and installed giant fans and dehumidifiers, essentially quarantining the kitchen. Before they left they noticed that there was still some dampness under our dishwasher so I ran a quick load. As soon as it started to drain, the kitchen was again flooded with water. The kind men yanked out the dishwasher and hauled it out to the street and I soaked up flood #2. I figured that at least solved the flooding problem. Now all I needed was a new floor, new cabinet toe kicks and a new dishwasher.

After four days of jet engine level noise and blasting heat from the fans and dehumidifiers, the men came back and took them away. I decided I should wash some of the dishes I had hastily tossed into the sink from the faulty dishwasher and got down to business. As I started to rinse my second bowl, I noticed that my feet were wet. I looked down to see another flood spreading from under the cabinets. I got down on my knees to soak up the water and try to find the source of flood #3 but couldn't figure out where the water was coming from as all pipes, hoses, etc were dry as bones.

I called the insurance agency and told them that a plumber was needed ASAP. They conceded that I should call a plumber but they would only pay for the plumber if the leak turned out to be the fault of the company that pulled out the dishwasher. Plumber can't come until Wed. Still waiting to hear when we can get our new floor installed and the new (expensive) dishwasher can't go in until the floor is installed and before that the leak must be fixed.

After flood #2 our very sweet downstairs neighbor rang the doorbell and brought me to her place to show me the leak in her ceiling where water had seeped through, breaking her phone and cutting out her phone service. I called the phone company to ask them to come fix it (her English is not so hot.) I also bought her a new phone but if there is any damage that needs to be fixed, my insurance company will consider it a second, liability claim and I will be out another $500 deductible.

In the midst of all this, I wait to hear the results of my second Celiac test. At a time when I am trying to keep wheat out of my diet, I am forced to eat out for pretty much every meal.

I woke up yesterday with a painful sore throat and a fatigue that made me have to sit down in the shower.

I know this will pass and I will come out on the other side of it stronger, wiser and with a nicer dishwasher but for now it's hard to see the light at the end of the very wet tunnel.


Ruby Red Grapefruit Avocado Salad

>> Saturday, June 6, 2009

I once had a salad like this at a catered event and I loved how the creaminess of the avocado was brought out by the zest of the grapefruit. I couldn't wait to go home and try to make it myself The crunch of the butter lettuce and cashews contrast with the softness of avocado. This salad is surprisingly delicious, all the elements play off one another perfectly.

- 2 whole ruby red grapefruits
- 1 medium avocado
- 1 Bag of pre-washed Butter Lettuce w/ Radicchio
- 1/4 cup toasted, unsalted cashew pieces
- 3/4 cup grapefruit juice
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- splash of good white wine (I use King Shag Sauvignon Blanc from TJ's)
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1/2 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 pinch black pepper

Peel and supreme* grapefruits and reserve the unused pieces. Press into a mesh strainer to extract as much of the remaining juice as you can. Place the whole segments in your salad bowl.

*To "supreme": first, using a sharp knife, cut disks of skin off the top and bottom of the grapefruit. Make sure you cut deep enough that the fruit shows. Cut off the skin in strips going from top to bottom, following the curve of the fruit. You want to remove the peel and the pith but not remove too much of the fruit. Once the peel is removed Cut out the segments, leaving behind the tough skin between the segments but cutting as close to that skin as possible. As you remove each segment, set it aside.

Halve avocado and remove pit, slice into thin slices and place slices in bowl with grapefruit segments. Mix gently to coat avocado with grapefruit juice to avoid browning.

For the dressing: Place the grapefruit juice, lime juice, vinegar, wine, mustard, honey, salt and pepper in a blender and blend to incorporate, about 10 seconds, add the olive oil slowly and blend an additional 5 seconds. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Add the greens to the salad bowl with the avocado and grapefruit. Add in the dressing and toss gently to coat the lettuce. Add in the cashews and serve!