Saturday, June 12, 2010

Rhubarb Crisp

Crisp is one of my favorite American desserts. I learned how to make it during my time working at Chez Panisse. I love the combination of textures between the soft fruit filling and the crispy topping. I also like how simple it is to put together with almost any kind fruit. The only secret to make it perfect is to use local fruits that are fresh and in season. This is my adaptation of a recipe by Lindsey Remolif Shere (former chez Panisse's pastry chef). I added orange zests, orange juice and brandy because I like how those flavors pair with rhubarb and intensify its flavor. I also substitute some of the sugar of the topping with brown sugar for a softer texture. I hope you enjoy it!

Rhubarb Crisp

- 2 pounds rhubarb
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons flour
- zest anf juice of one orange
- 1 tablespoon brandy
- pinch salt


- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Trim rhubarb and cut into 1/2" pieces. Place in a large mixing bowl and stir in sugar and flour. Add the orange juce, zests, brandy and salt and mix everything together. Let stand while you make the topping.

Spread the walnuts out on a baking tray and toast in the oven for about 10 minutes. Let them cool, and chop finely. In a mixing bowl, combine nuts, flour, sugars, cinnamon and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces, and work it with your fingers into the dry ingredients until the mixture is uniformly crumbly.

Pour the rhubarb mixture into a deep baking pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle with the topping.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Mostarda di Sedano (Celery Preserve)

You have probably already had celery in appetizers, soups, pasta sauces and other savory dishes. But I think this is the way you are going to enjoy the most. It has a delicate herb-honey flavor and a crunchy texture that pairs lovely with fresh cheeses. I specially love it with mozzarella di bufala or with fresh ricotta, but you can combine it with any kind of cheese. It is also delicious on ice cream or with a creamy Greek yogurt as a lighter dessert. It keeps well in the refrigerator for months so you can make a big batch and enjoy it in all those different ways.

Mostarda di Sedano

• 2 pounds firm celery stalks, medium size
• 1 cup sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2 oranges)
• 1 tablespoon orange zest
• 1 tablespoon brandy

Rinse, dry, cut in cubes and process the celery stalks in a food processor.

Put the cup of sugar and the salt in the saucepan, pour the orange juice, orange zests on top and then all the celery.

Set the pot over medium-low heat and stir as the sugar dissolves and the celery heats and starts releasing its juices. Bring the syrup to a gentle simmer, stirring frequently. Cover the pot and adjust the heat to simmer. Cook for about 25 minutes more, stirring frequently. Uncover the pot and add the brandy, stirring occasionally, until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed or evaporated, about 25 minutes or more. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mostarda cool completely before using. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It will keep for months.

Yield: Makes about 2 cups