Archive for June, 2017

Rhubarb-Bacon Compost

Monday, June 19th, 2017

As many of you know, my next cookbook will involve RHUBARB. It’s a good thing I love rhubarb because I have been testing rhubarb recipes pretty much nonstop for the past month; I would tire of almost any other food if I had to cook with it that intensely. Fortunately, I’m still enjoying the rhubarb.

I decided to use a couple of my rhubarb recipes last week on Mass Appeal. The first one is what I call a compost. (It’s really a compote, but one of my dinner-party guests misheard me say that word, and I thought “compost” would be a fun name for this appetizer. It does generate a fair amount of compost!)

This recipe is adapted from one I found on the Wisconsin Cheese website, maintained by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. I have fond memories of spending a couple of early summers in Wisconsin with my family when my father was working on his doctoral dissertation at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. In June we feasted on three of my favorite foods—rhubarb, asparagus, and cheese.

I loved visiting the university’s dairy bar and trying various flavors of ice cream. (I’m not sure whether this eatery still exists, but I hope so; all I could find online was the agriculture department’s store, which still looks pretty terrific.). I recall—whether this is an accurate recollection or not, I couldn’t say—that milk flowed from the water fountains there. Small-child heaven!

The original compote recipe included spices, but I prefer just a few fresh herbs to let the flavors of the bacon, rhubarb, and onion shine. This compote is best eaten after it has chilled completely. It makes a delightful sweet-and-savory accompaniment to cheddar or Swiss cheese on crackers or toast. When I made it, I used local bacon from a smokehouse near my home, Pekarski’s in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. The bacon flavor really dominates here so I urge you to use the best bacon you can find. You only need four slices so you won’t break the bank!

I thought a pink hat would accessorize rhubarb nicely.

The Compote

Ingredients:

4 slices bacon
2 cups sweet onion slices
2 cups finely chopped rhubarb
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon (maybe a little more!) fresh chives

Instructions:

Fry the bacon in small pieces. Add the onion, and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until the onion starts to caramelize, stirring frequently. Add the rhubarb, the vinegar, and the maple syrup. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb softens and most of the liquid evaporates. The timing on this stage will vary depending on the toughness of your rhubarb. When I made the compote, breaking down the rhubarb took about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Stir in the herbs, and refrigerate until ready to use. Serve with cheese.

Makes about 1-1/2 cups.

And now the video:

Tinky Makes Rhubarb-Bacon Compost

Saying Goodbye

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Last week I said goodbye to my friend Seth Stutman, who has been the co-host of Mass Appeal as long as I have been appearing on the show. Seth has always been a generous host, willing to make his guests look good and display their wit—and I have come to think of him as a dear friend.

“Goodbye” might be too strong a word; I hope to see Seth again in the future! I won’t be seeing him, or appearing with him, on Mass Appeal, however. He was ready for a change and has found another job in Western Massachusetts that will display his intelligence and people skills. The new folks are lucky to have him!

I will continue to appear on the show with the lively Lauren Zenzie and her new co-host, Danny New. They are very, very young—but I don’t hold that against them! I keep hoping a bit of their youth will rub off on me. I’ll miss dear Seth, however.

On his last show, three of his favorite cooks came in to prepare party food. I made the cookies below, which my friend Janice gave me when I got my Ph.D. They may look familiar; they are a version of the infamous inauthentic but delicious Neiman Marcus Chocolate-Chip Cookies.

When I noted during the segment that the recipe made complex cookies, Seth responded that I myself was a complex cookie. Really, how could one not love this boy?

After the show, the hosts, the guests, and the production people gathered to nibble and to wish Seth well. I sang him a slightly altered version of “You Made Me Love You,” because that’s how I feel about him.

I may seem a bit TOO sentimental in the video below, but I maintain that there’s nothing wrong with a little sentiment!

The Cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1-1/4 cups blended oatmeal (oatmeal pulverized into a powder in your blender)
1/2 cup pecans, also pulverized (optional but good)
1 cup chocolate chips
2 ounces milk chocolate, cut into small chunks

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cream together the butter and the sugars. Beat in the egg, followed by the baking powder and salt. Stir in the flour; then the oatmeal, pecans, and chocolate.

Shape the dough into balls—either 6 large ones or 12 medium ones. Place them on parchment- or silicone-covered cookie sheets, flatten them with your hand (they don’t really spread), and bake them until the brown nicely, at least 12 to 14 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for a couple of minutes; then remove them to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 6 to 12 cookies—or even more smaller ones!

And now the video….

Graduation Day Chocolate-Chip Cookies for Seth