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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Winter Food Series: Today, Delicious Rhubarb CrumbCake!

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Preparing the Rhubarb Filling

Pre-baked Base Crumbs

Spreading Rhubarb on Crumbs

Readied Whipped Egg-White

Luvly Layers

A Piece for You!

Winter. Not only nature, even homosapiens go into hibernation....active hibernation. Foggy days. Icy evenings. Freezing nights. Icy roads. No, No !! Nothing will make me go out.

Germans love to eat Rhubarb .....in various ways. Their favorite is named "Rhabarberkuchen". It's a crumb cake or tart made with rhubarb (though that's neither fruit nor vegetable). Rhubarb flourish very well in my garden. Probably because it is growing right beside my compost. I harvested lots last spring and froze them. Snipe away the huge leafs (they're fairly hairly). What's left are the stalks, thick as a thumb (or a big toe, at least) and arm long. Wait till next spring, then I'll post you some nice-nice rhubarb pictures!

Sour stuff, I tell ya! Don't try to eat them raw. In the past I've used rhubarb to pep up my Tom-Yum Soups when I ran out of lemons.

To cut a long story short: you peel the skin off the stalks, cut it into 1-2 inch long pieces, and then portion them into 500 gram bags for the freezer.

Last Saturday there was no more fresh fruits nor veggies in my fridge. Been hibernating since New Year, remember ? Opened up the freezer; out fell a bag with rhubarb. Been itching to bake something anyway, so rhubarb cake it will be!

One delicious rhubarb cake

Prepare the cake filling
  • 1 kg frozen rhubarb
  • 100 gm sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp water
  • ....cook! But how?

First defrost (can do over night).

Pour the juice (there will be enough after defrosting), and only the juice into a small sauce pan.

Add sugar.

Cook juice with sugar.

Once it's boiling, mix cornstarch with 2 tbsp of water.

Remove pan from heat. Add the cornstarch-water-mix to thicken juice.

Gently add in defrosted rhubarb pieces.

Do not cook again, and do not "over-mix". We want to keep the pieces, and don't want to turn it into mush.

Set aside and let it cool down.

Why the cornstarch? It prevents the later cake filling turning out too soggy.

Make the base

  • 150 gm butter (don't use margarine)
  • 100 gm flour
  • 200 gm almond meal
  • a pinch of salt
  • 4 egg-yolks

Simply mix-mix until you get crumb-crumbs.

Butter a cake-pan. Spread-spread the crumbs evenly over the pan and bake at 180° C for about 20 minutes. (Temperature adjustments may be needed with different ovens).

While base is baking, whip 4 egg-whites with 4 tbsp of sugar plus 1 tsp of vanilla essence (Germans will use 1 pack of "Vanillezucker").

Whip until very stiff.

Bring out dish from oven. Spread out rhubarb filling on top of baked crumbs. Spread or pipe the whipped egg-whites on top of rhubarb filling.

Place dish back to oven. Bake again. Use 120° C for another 20 minutes. Bake till the top of egg-white start to take colour light brown and become "Baiser".

Eat it whenever you can't curb your lust any longer. If you like, even if cake is still warm.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Winter Food Series: Today, Savoury Healthy Muffins!


The ingredients

The batter

The baked result

The meal

It's icy cold outside... Artic temperature, wind blowing, wild horses can't drag me out today. So it's 'hibernating food' for lunch/dinner again. What do I find this time ?

A pack of frozen ham, some frozen broccoli. What else do I find in the fridge and around? Carrots, milk, eggs, a pack grated cheese... And of course, onions (always have them). Found half pack of semolina as well. And this will be my lunch.

Savoury semolina muffins

Ingredients

  • 250 ml milk
  • 50 gm Semolina
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 small stick carrot (cut into fine cubes)
  • 2 small (or 1 large) onions (chop/cut very fine)
  • 100 gm flour (sieved with ½ tsp of baking powder and ½ tsp natron)
  • 3 eggs
  • ....bake! But how?

Method

Heat up the milk. As soon as it starts to boil, turn off flame and add semolina.

Add salt and sugar, mix thoroughly and set aside to cool.

Heat up 2 tbsp cooking oil in a pan, add onions and slowly let them 'sweat' till they start to brown.

Add carrots, cook a further minute and set aside to cool as well.

Whip up the eggs till foamy.

Put the cooled ingredients (semolina and onions with carrots), ham and the grated cheese into a large bowl. Mix well.

Add in flour. If the mixture is too dry, just add milk: the batter should be like a thick pancake consistency.

Do not over mix otherwise the muffins will become chewy.

At this stage, I found the batter too pale. So I add in broccoli. Found a few bits of dried cranberries so I put them in as well. Then I decided to add 'substance' to make it real healthy -– a handful of dried Goji berries went in too.

A friend gave me a silicon muffin tray cos she didn't know what to do with it. It is not stable. Very soft and 'spineless'.

Hmmm.... what to do ?

Easy: place the silicon in a tray to bake. After baking, just remove the tray and let it cool for 10 minutes before flipping over the silicon. The muffins just fell out.

It is not too bad. It is non-stick, easy to clean. The muffins are crispy on the outside and soft and juicy inside.