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Archive for April, 2010

If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun!”

                                                 ~Katherine Hepburn

I used to follow recipes just as they were printed. I’ve never been one to follow directions and rules, so I’m not sure why I made recipes an exception for so many years.

When I began developing recipes for my cookbook, my perspective changed. Now I consider a recipe to be a guide, and I feel free to add or eliminate ingredients to suit myself.

Rhubarb in the garden

 

Rhubarb brings back memories of my childhood. My parents grew it, and we ate lots of it. When April comes around, I crave rhubarb.

Rhubarb Growing

 

So when I came across a recipe for bread with rhubarb in my Pillsbury booklet “Brunches and Desserts”, I wanted to try it. Rhubarb, with its tart taste, color and texture, makes this bread a hit anytime or anyplace. 

 

 

 

At first I made the bread strictly following the recipe, no added ingredients or improvisation.

Toasted Pecan & Rhubarb Bread

Then one day, I thought about lavender and wondered how it would taste with rhubarb. Then I remembered this delicious bread and replaced the plain sugar with lavender sugar.

What did I discover? I now know if you always follow the recipe, you miss the fun (and the flavor, too)!

Kathy’s Toasted Pecan and Rhubarb Bread

This recipe is a variation on one I found in a Pillsbury booklet titled “Brunches and Desserts.”  I’ve added more flavor by using lavender sugar. Lavender flatters rhubarb infusing it with a hint of floral essence.

 3/4 cup lavender sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 cup buttermilk

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sliced fresh or frozen rhubarb (do not thaw)

1 tablespoon lavender sugar

 1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom only of 9×5 or 8×4-inch loaf pan or 2 smaller (7.5×3.75) loaf pans. Line parchment paper in baking pan(s).  In large bowl, combine 3/4 cup lavender sugar and butter; beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs; beat well. Add buttermilk; blend well.

2. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In small bowl, combine flour, pecans, baking powder, baking soda and salt; mix well. Add to buttermilk mixture; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in rhubarb. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar over top.

3. Bake at 350°F. for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool 1 hour or until completely cooled. Store in refrigerator.

 

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Easter Brunch

Tangerine MimosaOn Easter Sunday, my husband John and I were invited to join friends and family for a brunch and Easter egg hunt.

Kirsten, our hostess, is one of those people who makes everything look easy and elegant.

To express our appreciation, I’d created a special hostess gift for Kirsten.

 

I had filled a basket with a small lavender plant, culinary lavender buds, a Dagoba Lavender Blueberry Bar, lavender strawberry jam and a copy of my new book, “Discover Cooking with Lavender.” Now, I could hardly wait to give it to her.

Hostess Gift Basket

We gathered in her spacious kitchen and chatted while Kirsten fried small potato fritters. Kirsten’s husband Noel opened champagne and served Mimosas

Kirsten and Noel’s toddler sat on the kitchen floor playing with her collection of toy Easter eggs. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee, along with the savory fragrance of eggs and ham sent my appetite into action. Fruit salad, walnut coffee cake and pecan-rhubarb tea bread beckoned from the kitchen counter top.  

Easter Brunch

 

 

 

 

 

Peeking into the dining room, I admired the colorful table, the stunning yellow tulips and pastel Easter eggs – all set with 10 place settings. “How beautiful everything looks.” I commented.

. Easter Table for Ten

 

I knew this would be a memorable occasion with fabulous food, however I was surprised when Kirsten smiled and said, “I have a special gift for you!”

Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream - French LavnderOpening the freezer compartment of her refrigerator, Kirsten pulled out a carton of Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream. “Have you tried this? It’s French Lavender and it’s heavenly.”

 

 

 

 

At home later that evening, I tasted my special Easter treat. Words can not describe the sweet delicate taste of this ice cream. The smooth and creamy texture made me want more. The subtle flavor gave just hint of lavender.

Ice Cream in Pink Dish

Kirsten’s gift will be gone in a few days. The memory of her gracious hospitality will linger for a long time.

 

 

 

 

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Rhubarb grew in my mother’s garden. In early spring, I remember my mother cutting the pink slender stalks and making stewed rhubarb. She served this to us at breakfast and sometimes as dessert after supper. I loved the sweet and sour contrast that comes with eating rhubarb. Sometimes, I would take a raw piece, dip it in sugar and suck on the fruit enjoying the taste.

After reading Molly Wizenberg’s recent blog post  “A lot of rhubarb”, I realized I’d been rhubarb-deprived for too long.  Since I don’t have a rhubarb patch, I had to settle for buying  local rhubarb at the grocery store.

My mother didn’t’t use a recipe. Her stewed rhubarb was made by combining rhubarb (cut into 1 inch slices) with sugar, water and vanilla, and then cooking it on the stove top until it was soft and mushy.

Playing around with flavors, I decided to add lavender sugar and use Novelty Hill Chardonnay in place of the water. Lavender adds a slightly floral taste to the rhubarb. I combine the mixture in a dutch oven and cooked it in the oven for 30 minutes.

While the poached rhubarb was still slightly warm, I served myself a small bowl and time-traveled back to my childhood when rhubarb ruled!

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