Cook in the Moment: Rhubarb Clafoutis

Rhubarb Clafoutis (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

This Mother’s Day I’m thinking about my little sister. We were only born two years apart, but in my mind she will always be somewhere between 5 and 15 years old. When I look at her, it’s a different story. I’m in awe of the woman my sister has grown up to be. At first glance, a true beauty, with those innocent blue eyes and pearly white skin. Beyond the surface I can see a surprising strength and determination. She is the newest mother in our family. Last June, my one and only sister gave birth to a beautiful boy, and I still can’t believe she’s a mother. I can’t believe I’m an aunt. I can’t believe our mother is a grandmother and our grandmother is a great grandmother. Though I live 800 miles from my sister, I have felt the repercussions of her becoming a mother like aftershocks from an earthquake.

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10 Ways Tuesday: Rhubarb

Rhubarb (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

I’ve got creative recipes for cooking with rhubarb during spring:

1.  Rhubarb Clafoutis

The first line written in River Cottage Every Day is, “Good food prepared from fresh ingredients- ideally seasonal and locally sourced- can and should be at the heart of every happy, healthy family kitchen.” In the cookbook, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall pledges to show us that, “truly delicious meals can be thrown together from scratch in very little time at all.” Baking is a fearsome subject for many home cooks, and broaches the topic with no-fail recipes like brownies, simple loaf cakes, and even a twist on the traditional cherry clafoutis, made with rhubarb instead. Clafoutis is a French dessert, like a baked pancake, and anyone can do it. Rhubarb is chopped into pieces and stewed in the oven to soften its fibrous interior. A batter made by whisking together sugar, flour, eggs, and milk comes together quickly and is then poured over the rhubarb pieces. Half an hour in the oven reveals a golden, puffy pancake studded with deliciously tart rhubarb. Look for the recipe here on la Domestique this week.

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Ingredient of the Week: Rhubarb

Rhubarb (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

Rhubarb is a sight for sore eyes! Like an oasis in the dessert, she appears to bridge the hungry gap between citrus season and the fresh berries and stone fruits of summer. I might not notice her then, surrounded by fuzzy peaches and plump cherries. But now, the stage is all hers, and just as an understudy in the theater, she’s prepared. She’s learned the lines for every role, seamlessly transitioning from pies and tarts to jelly preserves to crisps and crumbles. Rhubarb is versatile, adding life to savory dishes such as Middle Eastern stews or chutney paired with cheese, pork, or luxurious foie gras. Left to stew in sugar and orange juice, the mouth-puckering syrup rendered infuses cocktails with her blushing pink hue and electricity, as if the energy of spring could be bottled and sold.

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Cook in the Moment: Grilled Spring Onions with Romesco Sauce

Grilled Spring Onions with Romesco Sauce (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

I’m not into celebrity chefs, per se. My favorite cookbooks are penned by self-taught home cooks with an interesting story to tell and a reverence for the craft of writing. Paula Wolfert, Nigel Slater, David Tanis, even Nigella Lawson. I want more than recipes. Give me history, culture, tradition. Let me be lost in your story and see the world through new eyes. I’m drawn to people who have a contagious enthusiasm for life. José Andrés is one of those cooks. He’s joyful and driven in his mission to share Spanish food with the world. Sure he is a celebrity, but to me, he’s not a celebrity chef. It’s substance and meaning and a new spin on traditional recipes that give his food depth. When I traveled to Washington D.C. for the first time (in April), eating at one of José Andrés’ restaurants was at the top of my list.

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10 Ways Tuesday: Spring Onions

Spring Onion, Pea, and Chive Frittata with Goat Cheese (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

I’ve got creative recipes for cooking with spring onions:

1.  Frittata

Basically a quiche without the pastry crust, the frittata is a rustic Italian baked egg dish that’s best suited to spring cooking. It’s a forgiving technique: sauté thinly sliced vegetables in a skillet, pour over beaten eggs, and sprinkle cheese on top. Start cooking the eggs on the stovetop and finish under the broiler for a browned and puffy frittata. Look for my favorite spring version: Spring Onion, Pea & Chive Frittata with Goat Cheese, on the blog this week. In the meantime, Martha Stewart’s Mushroom and Scallion Frittata would be delicious made with spring onions.

2.  Grilled

In Spain, grilled Calçots are a spring tradition. I first learned of this reading José Andrés Tapas cookbook. The Calçots, a spring onion, are cooked whole (minus the roots) over hot coals until tender and infused with smoky flavor. It’s a meal for a crowd, and a messy one at that, as the onions are meant to be eaten with your fingers, dragged through a spicy red romesco sauce and chased with plenty of wine. I’ll be preparing grilled spring onions inspired by this tradition tomorrow on the blog.

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