Rhubarb agua fresca

I had originally wanted to make a fun rhubarb cocktail for this post, but since I have a half marathon coming up this weekend I needed all the hydration I could get! And aren’t mocktails the new cocktails anyway…? So here is a delightful rhubarb agua fresca with muddled strawberry & a splash of lime. Early summer in a glass!

For one drink you will need:

2 oz rhubarb simple syrup (recipe below)
6 oz seltzer
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1 strawberry

Smash the strawberry in the bottom of your glass with a muddler or a spoon, add the lime juice and rhubarb simple syrup and top off with some seltzer. Done!

To make the rhubarb simple syrup combine 1 large stalk of rhubarb, sliced into 1/2 inch slices (about 1 cup), 1 cup sugar, and 1 1/2 cups water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer over medium heat until the rhubarb is falling apart. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve, cool, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator!

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Rhubarb Coffee Cake

I love rhubarb – it’s so pretty and the taste – so unexpected! My mind immediately went to the gobs of butter in my freezer just begging to be made into pie dough but then I quickly remembered that a. I made a pie for rhubarb week last time and, b. it’s not nearly strawberry season! (and I really adore the two together, don’t you?)

It’s been such a wet and dreary week.  Down pours almost every day!  Wednesday especially. I awoke early to torrential rain and wanted nothing more than to stay in bed all day.  Once I realized that wasn’t going to happen I figured I was already up, I could at least bake something comforting for the office!  This moist rhubarb coffee cake I found on smitten kitchen would do just the trick.

As I poured myself a cup of coffee I reminded myself – I used to do this all the time!  So with a wink and a nod to my days at Baked I plugged in the stand mixer and preheated the oven.

For a delicious coffee cake to brighten any day…

Rhubarb filling:
1 lb. of rhubarb, cleaned and trimmed to ¼” pieces.
½ cup sugar
4 t cornstarch
1 t ground ginger

The crumb:
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
2 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
¼ t salt
2 sticks of butter, melted
3 cups flour (more or less)

For the cake:
2/3 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 T vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour (feel free to use AP flour if that’s all you have on hand)
1 cup sugar
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
½ t salt
1 ½ sticks of butter, room temp. – cut into pieces

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a 9×13” pan with plenty of butter.  In a medium bowl place the rhubarb with the sugar, cornstarch and ginger – mix well and set aside.
DSC_0008For the crumbs, the heavenly heavenly crumbs, whisk together the sugars, spices and salt in a large bowl.  Whisk in the melted butter until smooth.  Switching to a wooden spoon, add the flour, little by little, until it almost becomes the consistency of wet sand or a loose dough.  Leave it in one piece in the bowl and set aside.

For the cake – join together in a small bowl the eggs, egg yolks, sour cream and vanilla.  Gently mix to combine.  In the bowl of the standing mixer whisk together the flour, leveners, sugar, and salt.  Add the butter and ¼ cup of the sour cream mixture and beat on medium until it starts to combine.  Add the rest of the sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition.  (Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl and get all of that goodness in there!)

Layer about half of the cake batter in the bottom of the prepared pan.  Top it with the rhubarb (your rhubarb may have given off a lot of juice – don’t include that in the cake) – lightly strain it with your fingers as you layer it over the batter.DSC_0017Next, top the rhubarb layer with the rest of the batter – even it out as best as you can so that the rhubarb is covered.  Finally, break up the crumb mixture with your fingers and place all of it on top of the batter.
DSC_0025Place the cake in the preheated oven and bake for about 45-55 minutes or until a fork comes out clean (just be aware that the crumbs may look under-done but it’s probably just the gooey rhubarb filling!).  Let it cool for a good long while before you top it with powdered sugar and serve.  It’s just the thing for a rainy day…or a Mother’s Day brunch?!DSC_0039

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Rhubarb

Rhubarb’s pretty pink stalks are popping up all over the place at this time of year! We’ve already made a tasty strawberry rhubarb compote and a delicious strawberry rhubarb pie, so check back later this week for some more rhubarb recipes!

 

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Italian sandwich……from Potbelly.

Since I was so good all week and brought my lunch… I decided to reward myself with a day off today! I had my heart set on some delicious noodles from Xi’an Famous Foods’ new midtown outpost (check out our recreation of their tasty cumin lamb noodles here), but the line was a block long and I was famished! So I went across the street to Potbelly and got myself a delicious italian sandwich and some chips. TGIF!

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Quinoa Tabbouleh

I love tabboulleh. Love love love.  Partly because it’s so refreshingly delicious and partly because it reminds me of my hometown.  There’s a great deli on the West side of Cleveland called Joe’s.  Just down the road from where my grandma lived for many years, any trip over to the west side was not complete without a stop.  Theirs is bright and vinegar-y.  I tried my best to mimic it…

Still working on a 5lb. bag of quinoa I bought back in February – I decided to make a batch of quinoa tabbouleh – packed with a little hummus and pita, it’d be the perfect take a long lunch!photoAnd…it’s so easy to prepare – simply mix prepared quinoa with LOTS of freshly chopped Italian parsley, a chopped onion, 2 cloves of minced garlic, freshly diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, lemon juice and red wine vinegar to your liking.

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Quinoa, black bean & sweet potato salad with avocado

The work week is finally halfway over, hooray! And what better way to start off a new month than with a little health kick! I made a tasty quinoa salad for lunch today and enjoyed it along with a maple yogurt. Yum!

Here’s how to make it: combine about 1 cup cooked red or white quinoa (1/4 cup dry), 1/2 a sweet potato, diced & roasted, 1/4 avocado, cubed and 1/4 can black beans, rinsed & drained. Dress with the juice of one lime, salt & pepper and you’re good to go! All of these components keep for at least a few days, so I made 4 servings and topped with the avocado/lime juice in the morning so it doesn’t brown. Enjoy!

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Steak Sandwich

Like Hillary mentioned – sometimes, despite our best efforts, we don’t get everything on our weekend to-do lists accomplished – in fact most of the time I’m lucky if I get two items crossed off the list.  BUT every once in a great while lighting strikes and I actually manage to be productive.  A midst a weekend-long move (ughk, isn’t moving the worst!) I found my way to Fairway to grocery shop for the week (the only way to avoid paying midtown Manhattan lunch prices!). 

Last night I made my first real dinner in my new home – a simple salad with seared steak (with a touch of ramp butter!) and Gorgonzola.   I’m so happy in the new place but the real treat… leftover steak for lunch today! I layered the steak on an onion roll with a little lettuce, orange segments, Gorgonzola and leftover vinaigrette and rounded out the meal with an apple (the ‘ol brown bag staple).  Perfect take along lunch to sit and enjoy on a sunny afternoon.

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PS – how cute are these reusable sandwich bags!? My attempt at being green…baby steps.

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A Ploughman’s Lunch

This week we are cooking up some great take-to-work lunch ideas! Check back daily this week for lunchtime inspiration.

If you’re like us and sometimes don’t have a particularly productive Sunday, and don’t end up cooking anything at all that you could take to lunch on Monday, we’ve got you covered with a super simple almost no-cook meal!

Here we have a ploughman’s lunch — a traditional UK meal of meat, cheese, and typically a beer (but we wouldn’t want our workday productivity to drop, would we?). So grab a piece of fruit, some cheese, cured meat, bread or crackers, and a not quite hard boiled egg (bring water/egg to a boil, turn off heat and cook 4-5 minutes) and get down to lunchtime business!

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Asparagus with Citrus and Pancetta

I love when I find that I’m totally addicted to something that’s actually good for me.  Too often that is so not the case.  Every Spring and Summer I eat asparagus as much as I possibly can until I can’t bear the thought of eating another stalk.  And so it begins…

I found this recipe while perusing Food52 – such a beautiful site with wonderful, seasonal recipes!  The flavor combination in this dish is incredible.  The buttery leeks, the creamy pine nuts, the oh-so-springiness of the green asparagus, the salty bite from the pancetta and the super fresh zing of all the lemon and orange zest.  Amazing.  I threw the mixture over some seasoned quinoa – perfect for a simple mid-week dinner.

What you’ll need:
1 cup of quinoa (prepared per package instructions – I always try to make mine with chicken or vegetable stock to add a little flavor – I highly suggest you do the same)
1 large bundle of asparagus, woody ends trimmed off, cut into 1.5” pieces
4 oz. pancetta, cut into small slices
1 leek – the white and light green part – cleaned well!
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lemons – zest and juice
1 orange – zested
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
S&P, butter & olive oil
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Prepare the quinoa and season with salt, pepper, and a little of both the lemon and orange zest – set aside.  In a large non-stick pan sauté the pancetta until crispy.  Add the thinly sliced leek along with a tablespoon of butter and olive oil.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add the asparagus and cook uncovered until the pieces are cooked through but still bright green (you don’t want mushy asparagus!).  Take the asparagus mixture off the heat and add loads of orange and lemon zest, toasted pine nuts, fresh parsley and a good squeeze of lemon juice.  Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Load the mixture on top of the quinoa and enjoy!

ars 117This makes quite a bit (4 heaping servings in total, I’d say) so mix the remainder of the quinoa and asparagus mixture with some baby kale, and a little more zest, salt and pepper and eat it for lunch the next day!

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Asparagus pizza

Ahh asparagus, so delicious in so many ways. Roasted with parm, wrapped with prosciutto… the list goes on. But this week I was inspired to make this yummy asparagus pizza by an old smitten kitchen post — sometimes vegetables are best when surrounded by carbs and cheese.

For two personal sized pizzas you will need:

recipe pizza dough (or 1lb store bought pizza dough)
1/2 lb asparagus
Juice from 1 lemon
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Shredded mozz
Grated parm
2 eggs (optional)

Preheat your oven to 450.

Shave the asparagus into ribbons with a mandoline or vegetable peeler. Toss them in a bowl with the lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, and s+p. Set aside. It turns out raw asparagus is actually quite tasty!

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Divide the dough in half and roll into nice pizza-sized circles. Sprinkle some cornmeal on a greased sheet pan and arrange your dough on top.

Brush each pizza with olive oil, top with a handful of mozz, some shredded parm, and then half of the asparagus.

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Bake the pizzas for about 10-15 minutes, or until brown and bubbly. If you want, you can crack an egg on top when the pizza has about 5 minutes to go — bake until the white is just set!

Enjoy!

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