Rhubarb Coffee Cake

Done

As Robert Burns once wrote … ‘The best laid schemes ‘o mice an’ men’ …

As anyone still out there may recall, this past January I took a stand against cyber stalking, pledging to not allow fright and fear of judgment curb my enthusiasm for writing.

AND THEN …

Came the snow! (Imagine that, snow in Maine …) And there was the Dear One, shoveling and shoveling and shoveling. It pained me to watch him do this all alone, so off I went to help. It pained me to watch him and then it pained me the next morning ~ SCIATICA. Crippling sciatica. Off we go to the doctor. Here’s some meds. They will help. Rest. Heat. Cold. Drugs. Repeat.

After a few days, they did help. Helped enough so I was able to get myself out of bed and go downstairs.

At our house in cold and snowy and blowy Maine, it was not easy to keep the outer door closed tight and we would offer awake to inches of snow inside the porch doorway. The solution? Put a log there.

Physically fragile and compromised me goes to walk outside and instead of bending over to move the log, I pushed it aside with the outside of my left foot. No big deal.

HA!

I opened my eyes the next morning in the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. It was blinding. I couldn’t stand or walk or sit. I had one comfortable position and one emotion ~ hysteria.

Dear One and I drive off to the doctor again, this time with me lying across the back seat in the fetal position sobbing. Different drugs. Rest. Heat. Cold. Drugs. Repeat. No better come in and we’ll start running tests.

And really crappy drugs. I needed the mother of all muscle relaxers and I truly felt this medical office was ‘not getting it’. I managed to get flexeril, but I was in pain. I needed relief. It wasn’t happening. I was just stoned out of my head. Not sleeping, just passed out. Not eating (not the worst thing in the world). Sad. Deflated.

A friend or two stepped in and suggested an osteopath. Being the skeptical gal I am, I just didn’t see that working. But at this point – three weeks of being in bed – I would have done nearly anything anyone suggested for relief.

On a ridiculously snowy day, the Dear One and I drive 40 minutes to see the osteopath. I walk in the door and there’s sitar music playing and incense burning and I’m thinking – ‘yeah, right. This ain’t gonna work. $230 down the drain.’

I lay on the table and the doctor placed his hands on my middle and lower back. Then my knee and hip. Light little fluttery touches. Nope, nope, nope, not working, not working … OH MY GOD, the muscles I pulled and twisted and tore RELAXED. No more drugs, slow pace, less bed rest, more sessions with him. And after 6 weeks, I felt like … well, at 80%.

What I didn’t realize at the time was the emotional and mental blow this took on my psyche. I was just unhappy and unmotivated. I did just the bare minimum I needed to do to get by. Quite frankly, I didn’t even realize this was happening. I wasn’t writing or cooking anything new, certainly not taking photos. I felt myself slipping away. Nothing was fun. Nothing was interesting. Get up. Shower. Eat. Work. Sleep. Repeat.

Finally, a dear friend who had been trying to reach out to me over and over again, cornered me. And we started talking … and talking … and talking … it didn’t hurt that she is an incredible neuropsychologist …

Everything had caught up to me after the injury … moving, being away from my family, my friends, being away from my darling son and his new bride, trying to find a place to fit in with the Dear One and his children, making new friends, being seriously injured, feeling isolated and alone. I don’t have those bring you chicken soup at 2:00 am friends here yet. No one who would reach out and come and visit or … It all just came crashing down on my soul at once. I was just paralyzed. My dear friend has known me for many, many years and heard the sadness and desperation creeping into my head. Her answer … let’s talk some more and let’s think about prozac.

I knew what I thought about prozac and I was VERY reluctant. The first pill I took was truly really hard to swallow. I was terrified. And I sat, patiently (well, as patient as I am capable of being) waiting for something to happen. As if there would be a TA-DA! moment. There wasn’t.

But one morning I woke up, just as dear Dr. D.T. said, and it felt as though the haze was gone. I felt happier in my head, my heart and soul felt lighter. I tried a new recipe. I giggled. I’m sleeping.

I’m getting better. I’m at the edge of the woods about to step into the sun light. Thank you, Dear one for being so patient and for dropping everything to stay home and take care of me. Thank you, D.T., I would have been able to get to this point without you. To my friends and family I’ve hidden from for the last number of months, I’m sorry, I love you all, and I’m back amongst the living.

So, while in bed I saw this recipe for Rhubarb Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping from Melissa Clark in the New York Times Cooking section. It looked like it had to be made. I had rhubarb that had to be cooked.

Tender, sweet, easy, yummy. The true testament is it being gone in a day!

Cake

  • 1 C of sugar
  • ½ C of butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 2 C flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • ½ t nutmeg (optional)
  • 2 C rhubarb, diced

 

Streusel Topping

  • ½ C sugar
  • ½ C walnuts, chopped
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 T butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a nine-by-thirteen pan. Assemble the cake, cream together the sugar and the butter, beat in the egg and buttermilk. Whisk or sift together the flour, soda, and optional nutmeg, and add it to the sugar, butter, egg, buttermilk mixture. Mix all together completely, and then fold in the rhubarb. Spread in the baking pan.

Mix the topping by combining the sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, and melted butter, and distributing it over the top of the cake batter.

Bake for forty-five to fifty minutes. Serve warm.

Makes one nine-by-thirteen cake.

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

Slice

Rhubarb, Rhubarb, everywhere! What’s a girl to do?

There’s only so much that will fit into the freezer!

Ice Cream … done …

Cake! Yes, a nice cake would be great! I looked through my cookbooks trying to find great rhubarb recipes and came across this one from Martha Stewart Cakes.

Company coming, a little showing off in the cake department would be fun.

You know, for me, the hardest thing about moving to Maine is missing my GIRLS! I am making friends here. A couple of very dear, couldn’t live without friends, but they were the Dear One’s friends first … not that that makes a tinker’s damn bit of difference at this point, but it’s all still so new and shiny …

And sometimes … I wanna go to Txikito! I wanna sit around and watch Project Runway! I wanna go to Trader Joe’s, Fariway, Whole Foods! I wanna have lunch! Go shoe shopping! RESTAURANT WEEK! Walk to the store! Chinese food at midnight! I miss my parents and my siblings (I’m a girl who has never lived more than 8 or 9 miles away from her ENTIRE family … ever!)!

Those things ain’t gonna happen in Bar Harbor, so we gather for dinner … and we laugh and we feast and we laugh and we drink and we laugh … truthfully, it’s all DAMN good and I wouldn’t trade a moment of it for anything.

If only I could have my old girls and my new girls (and boys) and my family in one place, like would be … not gonna say it!

TOPPING

  • 4 T unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • Coarse salt

CAKE

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for buttering pan
  • 1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut on a very sharp diagonal about 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 3/4 C sugar
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • Coarse salt
  • 1/2 t finely grated orange zest plus 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 C sour cream

NOTE: I doubled the amount of crumb topping. The amounts above are for the original recipe.

NOTE NOTE: I didn’t cut this on a sharp diagonal. I cut it in 1/2 inch chunks and it was WAY too much rhubarb!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Rhubarb

 

Make the topping: Stir together butter, flour, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until moist and crumbly. Set aside.

Butter a 9-inch round cake pan (2 inches deep). Dot with 4 tablespoons butter (cut into pieces). Toss rhubarb with 3/4 cup sugar; let stand for 2 minutes. Toss again, and spread in pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Beat remaining stick butter and cup sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in zest and juice. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream, until smooth. Spread evenly over rhubarb.

Crumble topping evenly over batter.

Out of oven

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and top springs back when touched, about 1 hour. Let cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake, and invert onto a wire rack. Let cool completely.

NOTE: I don’t know if it was me or the pan was too small or I over filled it, but this over flowed all over the oven. Next time less rhubarb and maybe not all the batter!

NOTE: Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan. The rhubarb will be too hot to handle safely right after baking. But if the cake sits much longer, it may stick.

Invreted

 

Rhubarb Ice Cream with a Caramel Swirl

Done 2
When I was a little girl, living in New York City, my parents say my consistent question was … WHEN ARE WE MOVING? No, REALLY, when are we moving?
We’re not. We live in New York City. The greatest city in the world. EVERYONE wants to live here.
Well, not ME!
Where do you think you’d rather be living?
MAINE!
How or why I had that answer is completely beyond me.
So, some 45+ years later, here I am living in Maine, Downeast Maine … for a girl who grew up in Manhattan, land of Chinese food at 4:00 am, taxis, shopping, WALKING to the corner store at any hour for anything you can imagine, this is rural … REALLY rural.
I live in a lovely house, with wonderful gardens … and, of course, there’s the Dear One (who makes it all worthwhile). I just need to overlook the SNAKES, and the black flies (who seem to find me rather tasty), and the ticks, (who also find me rather tasty), and the ginormous rabbits that just seem to come out of nowhere!
Rhubarb
In our garden there’s a HUGE patch of rhubarb. Once it grew enough to use, my mind started swirling with thoughts of what wonderful things I could make with this rhubarb.
There’s a LOT of rhubarb, so be prepared for many rhubarb recipes to come. I did freeze a bunch so I have it handy for my new business venture The Maine Ingredients (on FB too, head over and like my page, please.)
Sitting around with Lisa one morning and talking about recipes for rhubarb, her face lit up and she said, ‘There’s a great looking recipe for Rhubarb Ice Cream in the New York Times. It has a caramel swirl!’
Done
Truth of the matter is, I had never made anything with rhubarb, hadn’t really eaten rhubarb before, so I wasn’t so sure about rhubarb in ice cream. BUT IT HAS A CARAMEL SWIRL! How bad could it possibly be!?
Oh, it’s not bad at all. In fact, it’s freakin’ fabulous! The rhubarb is sweet and little syrupy, the ice cream itself has a nice, surprising tang from the sour cream (which I wasn’t sure about as an ice cream ingredient), and the caramel … oh, my, my, the caramel. The caramel is just decadent. Next time, it just has to be a salted caramel!
Rhubarb is now my friend. The snake, the rabbit, the tics and black flies … not so much!
  • 1 and 1/2 C whole milk
  • 1 and 3/4 C plus 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 and 1/2 C sour cream
  • 3/4 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 C heavy cream

In a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, whisk together the milk, 3/4 cup sugar, the salt, the vanilla bean seeds and its pod. Simmer gently until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and steep 30 minutes. Discard the vanilla pod and return mixture to a bare simmer.

Vanilla Bean

Place the yolks in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in hot milk mixture. Scrape the custard back into the pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Whisk in sour cream. Chill at least 3 hours or overnight.

Rhubarb and sugar

In a saucepan, combine the rhubarb with 1 cup sugar. Simmer until rhubarb is just tender and has begun releasing its juices, but has not started to fall apart, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer rhubarb to a bowl. Continue to simmer the juices until syrupy, 5 to 10 minutes more. Pour the syrup over the rhubarb. Cool completely.

In a clean, dry and preferably nonstick skillet, sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over medium heat. When it begins to melt and lightly color, sprinkle in 2 more tablespoons and start swirling pan to help evenly distribute sugar. Add the final 2 tablespoons and cook, swirling pan until all the sugar has melted. Let cook, swirling occasionally, until the sugar syrup caramelizes and turns dark brown. Pour in the heavy cream and 2 tablespoons water (stand back; it may splatter). Simmer, stirring with a heatproof rubber spatula until smooth. Cool completely.

Pour the custard base into an ice cream machine and churn. Add rhubarb compote for the last minute of churning.

Scrape a quarter of the caramel into the bottom of a freezer-proof quart container. Top with a quarter of the ice cream. Repeat layering until all of the caramel and ice cream has been used, ending with the ice cream. Freeze until firm for at least 2 hours and up to 1 week.

NOTE: ONE WEEK!? HAHAHAHA!