Thursday, May 6, 2010

Rhubarb Biscuit Cobbler

Spring hails the coming of rhubarb here in the US Northeast.

Had I even heard about rhubarb before coming to the US? Probably, in a book somewhere. But had I seen it or tasted it. Nope. It actually took me by surprise when I saw it, and it looked like red celery! I remember buying a whole bunch of it the first time, then sitting around scratching my head about what to do with it. Luckily, I had recently discovered the wonderful world of food blogs back then, so after much desperate Google-ing, I figured out how to take this rather odd, funky-smelling thing, and transform it into sweet, gooey desserts of all kinds.

Allow me to present to you one of my favorite ways to eat it ...

Rhubarb Biscuit Cobbler (adapted from Circle B Kitchen's recipe)
Serves 4-6

Click here for printable recipe

4 stalks fresh rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/2-1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
6 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 tbsp whole milk
1/2 tsp granulated sugar for sprinkling on top

1. Preheat oven to 425. Put your baking dish (preferably one with high sides) on a baking sheet.

2. Place the chopped rhubarb and strawberries in your baking dish. In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and water to create a simple syrup, and pour this over the fruit in the baking dish. Bake for 12 minutes.
Weird, giant, mutant strawberry. This is what you get when you don't buy organic, people.

3. In the meantime, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives, till you end up with some roughly pea-sized lumps. Pour in the milk and stir till dough just comes together.

4. Remove baking dish from oven, and drop the batter on top in lumps, breaking it with your fingers. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar, and pop it back in the oven for abut 20-25 mins, till the top is golden brown, and fruit is bubbling. Remove, let cool for 15 mins, then serve with cold whipped cream or ice-cream (if you know me, you know which option I go for every single time).

Verdict: Technically, rhubarb is a vegetable. You wouldn't know it though, when you eat it in this way. Pretty in pink, this one is. The baked fruit is sweet, tart and almost creamy. The biscuit dough is crunchy on top, and tender on the inside. Put 'em together and what have you got? Bippity-boppity-boo! Ooo, a Disney's Cinderella reference - fun! Ergh, no .. what am I saying?! ... my kid is barely 3 month old and I'm already watching cartoons! Okokok, I'm LYING, you got me, I watch cartoons anyway! *sigh*

... Basically, I'm trying to say that I like rhubarb. Especially like this. It's heartwarming and refreshing at the same time. Try it. And forget my cartoon confession.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ree's Magical Green Beans

See these beans, dear readers? These are magic beans.

Oh yes they are. Not the kind with the beanstalk and the giant. But definitely the kind that make you see and hear things you never thought were possible! Observe this pre-dinner conversation ...

DH: "Beans?? What are beans doing in our house?!"
Moi: "You have something against beans?"
DH: "No, but there's nothing good about them either."
Moi: "Well, this is what we're having as a side-dish with the pasta tonight. We need to add more greens to our diet since we're both trying to lose weight."
DH: "Not me! I'm not going to ruin the pasta by eating beans with them! I don't care about greens!" *additional ranting along these same lines*

Now, carefully read the post-dinner conversation.

DH: "Hey, do we have any more of these beans? These were good! I could have these often. I want more now!"

Moi: *stunned silence*

There you have it, folks. The most compelling evidence in favor of these magic beans! I rest my case.
I have to admit, growing up, beans were one of my least favorite vegetables. My mom used to make a curry with them, chopping them up and adding them to mutton or ground beef - very Pakistani style. And like most kids, I hated that! There was just something very off-putting about those beans cooked in that way. It's only in the last few years that my heart has softened towards green beans, especially when you have them simply steamed with steak or roast chicken and mashed potatoes.

So when I came across The Pioneer Woman's recipe for these beans, I knew just by looking at the ingredients that these had to be good! It's exactly what I need to be eating more of right now. This vegetable is loaded with nutrients — an excellent source of vitamin K (awesome for bone health), vitamin C, manganese, vitamin A, dietary fiber, potassium, folate, and iron. And, green beans are a good source of magnesium, thiamin, riboflavin, copper, calcium, phosphorus, protein, omega-3 fatty acids and niacin. My flabby thighs will thank me for this.

Ree's Green Beans (you can check out her fun take on this dish here)

Click here for printable recipe

1 lb green beans (ends snapped off - I cheated and got the pre-cleaned ones, packaged ones)
1 cup chopped onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper (capsicum)
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
Lots of cracked black pepper
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil

1. Heat the butter and oil in a skillet. Add the garlic, onions and red bell pepper, and saute for a few minutes.

2. Throw in the green beans and stir them around for a minute.

3. Pour in the chicken broth, along with salt and pepper.
4. Turn the heat down to low, and cover the skillet with a lid - but leave it cracked just a bit for the steam to escape. Let this cook away for 15-20 mins, until the liquid almost completely evaporates and the beans are fairly soft, but still have some bite. Serve!

Verdict: I think I've said enough about these already. Clearly, DH has as well. I'm happy to have found a healthy recipe that tastes really good and is totally satisfying. Oh, and it's pretty too - does that count for anything? I've paired these beans with all kinds of entrees, and so will you. As a matter of fact, you'll soon be looking for excuses to make this dish. And rest assured, this is still me typing. My blog has not been hijacked by some health freak. But even my deliciously calorific blog needs to unclog its arteries once in a blue moon. Never fear, I'll be back to piling on the carbs soon enough!

I'll also be submitting this recipe to the next Foodie Fans of The Pioneer Woman round-up. The deadline is still a couple of weeks away, so you guys have time to join in!