It was a chilly day at Green City Market yesterday, but I got there early enough to get a free coffee and the misty rain didn't seem to be dampening spirits. I was hoping for artichokes, but found none. My disappointment quickly faded as my search for rhubarb was successful at a little stand on the outskirts of the market. The table was stacked with piles of the beautiful pink stalks and tons of violet asparagus.
Having heard that raw honey grown locally can help with allergies, I picked up a cute little bear filled with the stuff from Heritage Prairie Market. My husband and I are known for sneezing through entire summer weddings, vows and all, so I was relieved when the man behind the stall confirmed his honey's health benefits.
Parents were filling their children's cups with fresh milk and everyone was tucking into samples from the various stalls. Apart from the hugely popular crepe stand, the friendly people from Sunday Dinner served a gorgeous homemade flat bread with asparagus, chives, onion, goats cheese and thick shards of prosciutto.
My bulging bag was also filled with some lovely wild garlic that I added to omelets with goats cheese for tonight's supper. Every couple of months, and normally on a chilly night, I like to make breakfast for dinner. We put our pajamas on when it's still light outside and my husband boils the kettle. We make cups of tea and eat some combination of eggs and toast.
Tonight it was the wild garlic omelet and a salad of some of the brightest radishes I have ever seen.
My family got together today to celebrate Mother's Day. I found it the perfect excuse to spend Saturday afternoon in the kitchen transforming the rhubarb into a compote for fresh fruit and tweaking my Aunt Patty's Chinese Slaw. I hope she doesn't mind!
For the rhubarb, I adapted a recipe out of Tom Kime's book Exploring Taste + Flavour for Turkish rice pudding with orange and cardamom-scented rhubarb. Instead of leaving the rhubarb whole, I let them stew completely and then combined them with the stunningly flavored syrup to make a compote. I also added rose water to the rhubarb while stewing.
Strawberries with Rhubarb Compote and Vanilla Mascarpone
Fresh berries: I like strawberries for this, but you can use any of your favorite berries.
For the Compote:
2 pounds rhubarb, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
1/2 cup of water
1 tsp rose water
1/2 cup sugar
Preheat the oven to 350F and combine rhubarb in a shallow oven proof dish with rose water, water and sugar. Cover with foil and cook for 30-40 minutes. If you want to keep the rhubarb whole you can cut the time back to 20-25 minutes and serve the syrup separately. I combined the two for the compote.
For the Syrup:
Juice of one orange
Zest of one orange
2 cardamom pods, crushed
liquid from stewed rhubarbs
Carefully drain the liquid from the stewed rhubarbs into a small sauce pan. Zest one orange with a vegetable peeler and add to the liquid along with the juice from the orange. Add the crushed cardamom pods and simmer until reduced to syrup consistency.
Combine in a food processor with the stewed rhubarb and serve over fruit. I also like this with ice cream.
For the Vanilla Mascarpone:
8 oz Mascarpone Cheese
1 vanilla pod, halved and seeds scraped out
3 tbsp icing sugar
Combine all ingredients and whip with a spoon until sugar and vanilla seeds are combined. I love serving this with all kinds of fruit combinations. I had a punnet of blackberries in my fridge and couldn't help dipping them into this. I've served this before with fresh nectarines or peaches, cut into slices and then marinated in a sprinkle of sugar and a few tablespoons of Grand Marnier.
My sister made some tasty marinated pork chops that she brined over night, grilled and covered with a sweet and savory ginger sauce. We had a minor crisis with the rice which resulted in the two of us emptying her pantry of every alternative we could find. In the end, we had a fit of giggles while sipping her Blood Orange cocktails and served only enough couscous for everyone to have no more than a tablespoon. No one seemed to mind.
Patty's Chinese Slaw
For the Slaw:
2 bags of prepared coleslaw (I like one bag regular, and one bag broccoli slaw)
1 cup of cashews
1 cup of sunflower seeds
3 pkgs. ramen noodles, uncooked (noodles only)
2 bunches of green onion, chopped
1 stalk of wild garlic, chopped (optional)
For the Dressing:
1 cup of vegetable oil
1/3 cup of rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup of light brown sugar
juice of 1 lime
1/2 inch of ginger root, grated
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp honey
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
Mix the dressing the night before & refrigerate. Mix the slaw ingredients with the dressing and serve. You can serve it immediately or mix it a few hours ahead and refrigerate.
Stacia's Blood Orange Cocktail
Fill a high ball with ice and measure 2 part blood orange sparkling juice, 1 part Tanqueray gin, 1 part grapefruit juice. Add a few torn mint leaves and a squeeze of lemon. Stir and serve. They are guaranteed to make any disaster in the kitchen seem inconsequential!