National Rhubarb Day

January 23rd, 2019

I couldn’t let National Rhubarb Day pass without a recipe from Love, Laughter, and Rhubarb! This is a short recipe, although it takes a long time to be ready since it has to sit for weeks.

In fact, it will take an even longer time to be ready NOW because National Rhubarb Day falls in January, when there is no rhubarb available … unless you want to import frozen rhubarb, which I have done! (Somehow or other the rhubarb I freeze at home doesn’t seem to last through the winter.)

My source is Frank Farms in Michigan. The rhubarb costs as much to ship as it does to buy, alas, but it’s good rhubarb.

Of course, you may certainly wait until rhubarb season to make this simple cordial. It’s great in goopy desserts like a trifle. Or you may drink it as an after-dinner liqueur, what my Francophone mother used to call a “digestif.” I can’t guarantee that it will aid your digestion, but rhubarb is known for its medicinal properties.

When I become famous enough, I will work on moving National Rhubarb Day to a more appropriate time of year. Meanwhile, I assure you that the rhubarb roots are still there beneath the snow, waiting to be celebrated….

Rhubarb Cordial

Ingredients:

2 cups rhubarb
1 cup sugar
vodka as needed

Instructions:

Place the rhubarb in a 1-quart Mason jar.  Pour the sugar in over it and stir well; then fill the jar with vodka, cover it, and place it in a cool, dark place. Gently shake and/or turn the bottle twice daily until the sugar dissolves. 

At the end of 6 weeks, strain out your cordial.  This recipe makes 2 cups, more or less, depending on the juiciness of your rhubarb.

Holiday Greetings

December 23rd, 2018

Happy everything to all who read this! I hope you, like me, are surrounded by family and friends and looking forward to a positive, healthy new year.

Things are a bit hectic on my end at present; my holiday retail job is going full speed! So here is a quick recipe and not much more to help you celebrate Christmas.

I should note that the recipe—and indeed, some of the ingredients—came to me courtesy of King Arthur Flour. I have made turtles from scratch; there’s a great recipe for them in my Pudding Hollow Cookbook. I have to admit, however, that I love the idea of making them as quickly and simply as one can with this recipe.

I made them last week on Mass Appeal, along with a family favorite: my mother’s fruitcake! Here is a link to the fruitcake video, and here is the one for the turtles.

Please note that you do have to store the turtles on parchment; they stick to just about any other surface. You won’t have to store them long; they disappear quickly!

Merry Christmas to all…

Snappy Turtles

Ingredients:

16 pecan halves
1 4-ounce block of caramel, cut into 16 pieces, or 16 caramel candies
16 milk chocolate disks or small pieces of chocolate
1 pinch fleur de sel or other sea salt for each candy

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment or silicone.

Spread the pecans around the sheet, keeping them as far apart from each other as possible. Flatten each caramel piece into a round about the size of a half dollar, and place the caramel pieces on top of the pecans.

Heat the candies in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes, until the caramel starts to melt. Remove them from the oven, and press a piece of chocolate on top of each candy. Sprinkle a little of the salt on top.

Allow the candies to cool before removing them from the pan and placing them on parchment paper. Makes 16 candies.

A Thanksgiving Salad

November 21st, 2018

The older I get—and the more work I have to do on the days before and after Thanksgiving—the simpler I like to make Thanksgiving. My sister-in-law Leigh and I will experiment a bit over the weekend, once the holiday is over. She wants to play with pastry. I want to make some lovely potato buns my friend Sandy makes every year.

But on Thanksgiving itself we’ll have a simple meal and let the turkey shine. Turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, sweet potatoes, a green vegetable, perhaps a little mashed potato … and a salad.

I first encountered Brussels sprouts in a salad a few years back at the home of my cousins Alan and Jane. As I have written before here, I don’t care for boiled sprouts. They fill the house with an icky cabbage-y smell and take on a depressingly sodden texture.

When roasted or sautéed or used raw (as they are here), however, they smell fine, taste better, and have a satisfyingly crunchy texture. Lauren Zenzie on Mass Appeal scooped up what was left of the salad after we made it on the air for her lunch.

A note about vinegar: I go back and forth between cider vinegar and red-wine vinegar in this recipe. The cider version is more autumnal; the wine vinegar gives the salad dressing a bit more tang.

We also made my cranberry-apple crisp for dessert on the air. I’m having trouble uploading the videos, but you may watch them here if you wish: Brussels-Sprouts Salad and Cranberry-Apple Crisp.

Happy Thanksgiving! May all your sprouts be crunchy….

Brussels Sprouts Salad

Ingredients:

16 Brussels sprouts
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries (more if you like)
6 to 8 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
2 small apples (or 1 large apple), cored and sliced (optional but delicious)
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon raw honey
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or cider vinegar)

Instructions:

Trim the Brussels sprouts; then slice them with a knife or shred them with a food processor or a mandoline.

Combine the sprouts, the celery, the onion bits, the cranberries, and the apple pieces. Mix the remaining ingredients into a dressing, and toss half of the resulting dressing onto the salad, adding more dressing if needed. Serves 8.

The photo is a bit fuzzy, but you should get the idea!

Cider and Autumn

October 31st, 2018

I’m not much of a cider drinker in general. When cider comes fresh from a local orchard, however, I can’t resist it.

This weekend my area in western Massachusetts will once again celebrate Franklin County Cider Days. Hard cider is now very chic—but we loved it before it was chic; this festival has been going on for more than two decades.

This year’s offerings include an amateur-cider-making competition, a cider dinner (already sold out!), tastings, lectures, and cooking demonstrations. I’m not involved this year, but even without me the weekend will be full of fun and flavor.

So when I went on Mass Appeal this morning to celebrate Halloween I felt that I should make something cider related. I only spearheaded one segment myself; the cidery in my own town of Hawley, Headwater Cider, sent a representative to make some pretty snazzy cocktails with Headwater’s hard cider.

My segment was simpler but also tasty. I mulled some cider. To me, mulling cider and Halloween go together; when the door keeps opening to admit trick or treaters, it’s nice to have something warming on the stove.

Because mulling cider is such a snappy recipe, I also made some of my chock-full oatmeal cookies. They go beautifully with the cider—and they’re a great Halloween offering for any trick or treaters who can’t eat chocolate.

Happy Halloween! Happy Cider Season!

Mulled Cider

Ingredients:

1/2 gallon apple cider (use the best quality you can find, from a farm/orchard if possible)
4 cinnamon sticks
several cloves (whole)
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/4 cup brown sugar or maple syrup (optional, but useful if your cider is on the tart side; mine definitely didn’t need the additional sweetness)

Instructions:

Combine the ingredients in a heavy saucepan. If you want to avoid a mess, put the spices in a cheesecloth bag or infuser. Or just ladle around them at the end (my choice).

Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a VERY low setting and simmer, almost covered, for 20 to 30 minutes. Serves 8.

And now the videos:

Cider Cocktails from Headwater Cider

Tinky Makes Mulled Cider and Chock-Full Oatmeal Cookies

Pumpkin Season

October 15th, 2018

I don’t participate in the current craze for pumpkin-spice EVERYTHING. Still, I like to make something new every fall that involves pumpkin. This fall it was some simple cupcakes: moist and tasty, easy to share with a crowd.

I like them with cream-cheese frosting, but the icing is up to you. In fact, you may choose to eschew frosting altogether and call them pumpkin muffins.

I made them this past week on television, along with my beloved broccoli soup. The combination made a perfect simple supper the next evening.

Pumpkin Cupcakes

Ingredients:

3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1-1/2 cups flour
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup raisins

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 16 muffin tins with paper liners. (You may end up with slightly more or fewer cupcakes.)

Mix the oil and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each egg. Beat in the vanilla, followed by the baking powder, the baking soda, and the spices. Stir in the flour, followed by the pumpkin, the coconut, and the raisins.

Spoon the batter into the prepared tins. Bake until the cakes tests done, about 20 to 25 minutes. Frost with your favorite frosting (or not!). Makes about 16 cupcakes.

And now the videos:

Tinky Makes Broccoli Soup

Tinky Makes Pumpkin Cupcakes