Monthly Archives: June 2008

Rhubarb, Repeated

It’s like I have a one-track mind in spring, and that track is laid with slender pinkish stalks and leads inevitably to the oven.  I’m talking about rhubarb, of course, and my favorite (easiest!) preparation, the oven-baked compote.  So last week at the greenmarket, I was compelled to buy yet another pound-plus of the crunchy, tart, plant.  I had all kinds of glorious plans, but by the time I got home, I only had energy to chop it and toss it with some sugar before collapsing.

When the compote was meltingly soft, about an hour later, it occurred to me that rhubarb would make a delicious, silky sorbet, what with all its pink and earthy flavor and high pectin content.  So I puréed the compote with a cup of Vigonier that had been wasting away in the fridge, and ran the resulting slush through my ice cream maker.

The sorbet was delicious.  Just sweet enough to balance the tartness of the rhubarb and the crisp wine.  Somehow the wine brought a note of spice and sophistication, and thanks to the long, slow cooking process, the rhubarb fibers melted into the gelatinous purée.  I’m already thinking of how to improve this recipe when I make it again (though there’s still a half-full quart container in my freezer).  I think I’d opt for less wine next time and maybe a few drops of rose water.  I meant to put that in this time, but forgot.  I think adding some berries to the rhubarb would also be nice, as would agave nectar instead of sugar or two tablespoons gin instead of the wine.  It’s a pity rhubarb season is so short and my freezer so small — otherwise, I’d make a variation on this sorbet at least once a week.

Rhubarb Sorbet

1 1/4 pounds rhubarb, washed, trimmed, and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces (or use a mixture of rhubarb and berries)

3/4 c sugar

1 1/2 c crisp, fruity white wine ( I used an Argentinian Vigonier, but a California Pinot Grigio or Provenςal Rosé would be nice, too)

2 tsp rose water (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350.  In a pyrex loaf pan, toss the rhubarb and sugar.  Bake about 1 hour, until the rhubarb falls apart when stirred. Cool to room temperature.

Purée the rhubarb with a food processor or immersion blender and add the wine and rose water gradually.  Chill the mixture overnight, then run through ice cream maker.

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Baked, Fruit, Recipe, Sweets

Caramel Coulant

I haven’t posted in over a week, as I’ve barely been able to cook anything more interesting than oatmeal. Yes, I have so-called reasons: I’m at work most of the day and trying to see my friends in the evening, and there was that appetite-negating heat wave. But it’s all just an elaborate excuse for not sticking to my guns. Oh, for shame!

The worst of it is, I’ve been neglecting this recipe for The Wednesday Chef‘s role-reversal project. I’ve had the Caramel Coulant recipe in hand almost a month without doing so much as buying a half-pint of cream. I finally made it a few days ago and took some pictures, and I’m glad to have at least one recipe checked off the infinite to-do list.

Thanks to Luisa for implementing this Freaky Friday-esque scheme. Swing by her site for full disclosure!

And just for posterity, here’s the recipe.

Caramel Coulant
For the caramel sauce:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1 ½ tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup milk

For the coulant:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Pinch of fleur de sel
  • ¼ cup plus 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup cake flour
  • 2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the sugar and ¼ cup water in a pot. Do not stir. Cook over medium-high heat to a dark caramel, swirling as it begins to brown to distribute the sugar. Reduce the heat to low and deglaze with the cream, standing back to avoid bubbling caramel. Add the butter and milk. (It will bubble again.) Stir until well incorporated. Let cool. (The sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated.)
2. Spray 5, 4-ounce ramekins with cooking spray; cover the inside of the ramekin with sugar and remove excess. Place on a sheet pan.
3. Make the coulant by warming 1/3 cup caramel sauce in a medium saucepan; then stir in the butter and fleur de sel. Off the heat, stir in the sugar, then flour, then eggs, adding the next just after the prior has been combined. Pour the mixture two-thirds of the way into each ramekin. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, turning the sheet pan halfway through, until the shell is cakelike but the center is flowing. Let cool. When ready to serve, rewarm the cakes in the ramekins for a few minutes. Place a serving plate over the ramekin and flip it to release the coulant. Serve with salted caramel ice cream.

Serves 5. Adapted from Nicole Kaplan at Eleven Madison Park, New York.

7 Comments

Filed under Baked, Pantry, Recipe, Sweets

Work n Roll

This evening I got out all my sushi-making supplies and made some rolls to get me through the working week. I used brown medium-grain rice (didn’t remember to get more sushi rice when out, didn’t want to go back out), and cooked it pretty much the way I cook sushi rice, but with more water and for a longer time. I filled the rolls with batons of pickled daikon, fresh cucumber, slender blanched asparagus, a sprinkling of sesame seeds and a streak of Sriracha. All my favorite sushi vegetables together in one roll, at long last.

I’ve only made sushi once before, so the first roll of this batch was a little loose. But by the time I got to the last one, I was able to turn out a compact, even roll with all the vegetables nicely centered. I’m already thinking of all the things I’d like to roll up in rice and seaweed: avocado (note to self: buy one tomorrow so it will ripen by next week), kimchi, cooked & drained tatsoi, mango, chives, carrot, all kinds of pickles, pear, mushrooms, and watercress stems. What else should I try?

Though I think these rolls turned out well, there;s one thing I’ll do differently next time. I couldn’t find a recipe for brown sushi-style rice in under two minutes, so I made one up. The top half of the rice was perfect, but the bottom half was a little soggy. So I’ll reduce the water, and I’ve noted that change in the recipe below. I cut two rolls into eight pieces each and tucked them (minus the two slices I ate for quality conrol) into the bottom of my steel lunchbox. The other two I left whole and wrapped in plastic to keep them from drying out until I get to use them.

I’m so looking forward to lunch tomorrow.

Vegetable Sushi

For the rice:

  • 1 cup brown medium grain rice (or short-grain, if you can)
  • 1 1/2 c water, plus more for rinsing
  • 1 Tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Measure the rice into a bowl and cover with water. Stir with your hands, then drain the cloudy water – a fine-mesh strainer makes this foolproof. Repeat the rinsing and draining 3 times, then put the rice and 1 1/2 cup water in a small pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 30 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes. (Don’t uncover the pot during these 40 minutes.) In the meantime, stir vinegar, sugar, and salt in a large bowl until sugar and salt dissolve. When the rice’s time is up, add it to the bowl and gently stir to coat each grain with the vinegar mixture. Spread the rice up the sides of the bowl and let cool to room temperature. Makes about 3 cups.

For the rolls:

  • 4 sheets nori
  • Sushi rice (above)
  • 4 spears asparagus, blanched (boil 1 minute, cool in ice water)
  • 4 batons pickled daikon (about 1/2-inch thick)
  • 4 batons cucumber (about 1/4-inch thich)
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • Sriracha chili sauce, optional

Lay one sheet of nori on your sushi mat, shiny side down. Cover with 1/4 of the cooled sushi rice, leaving 1/2-inch bare at the side of the nori farthest from you. Wet your hands and rice paddle to make spreading easier. Sprinkle the rice with 1/2 tsp sesame seeds. Arrange 1 of each vegetable in the center of the roll, and squeeze a thin stripe of Sriracha alongside. Using your mat, bring the side of the rice-covered nori closest to you up and over the vegetables and press. Pull the mat away from you with one hand, keep the other on the sushi lump inside the mat, and roll all in one go, thinking cylindrical thoughts all the while. Unroll your mat and inspect your sushi log. If it seems a little loose, you can tighten it a bit with your mat. Making a good roll takes practice, and you’ll improve noticeably by your fourth try.

Slice each roll into eighths, and eat with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger (all available at Asian grocery stores). Since they’re just vegetables and rice, these rolls will keep in the refrigerator 2 days when cut, and about a week uncut.

3 Comments

Filed under Main Dish, Pantry, Recipe, Side Dish, Vegetables