Tag Archives: strawberries


It’s actually a little late in the season for rhubarb, but I saw some in the market. It looked so good, that I bought it along with a quart of strawberries. To my way of thinking, rhubarb and strawberries make a perfect combination – in a sauce, a cake, or a tasty pie.

I have great memories of eating raw rhubarb straight out of my grandmother’s garden. I pulled off the leaves, peeled the skin from the flat side of the stalk, shook on some salt, and ate the whole thing, shaking on more salt as I went. My grandmother cautioned me not to eat the leaves as they were poisonous. That was good advice because rhubarb leaves are rich in oxalic acid (along with greens like sorrel) and oxalic acid can precipitate in the kidneys causing kidney failure. The stalks have oxalic acid, too, but not so much to be dangerous. That was good for me as a child. I was never poisoned, but I often had a belly ache.

The recipe I used is based on one from that great baking book, The Fanny Farmer’s Baking Book by Marion Cunningham (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1984)


Rhubarb Strawberry Pie


  • 4 large stalks rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 3/8 inch dice
  • 1 quart strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pie dough for a two-crust pie, rolled into two circles for a 9-inch pie (commercial prepared pie crust is perfect)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • turbinado sugar


  1. In a large bowl, combine the diced rhubarb and slice strawberries and set aside.
  2. In another large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, salt, and vanilla extract. Stir in the rhubarb and strawberries, mixing gently until the fruit is well coated (I know – rhubarb is technically not a fruit)
  3. Line a 9-inch pie pan with one of the circles of dough. Distribute the filling mixture evenly.
  4. Cut the butter into 16 pieces and dot the top of the filling.
  5. Cover with the second circle of dough. Seal and crimp the edges. Cut several vents in top crust.
  6. Mix thoroughly the egg and milk. Using a pastry brush, paint the mixture on the crust and then sprinkle with turbinado sugar
  7. Bake in the middle of an oven preheated to 450°F for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 35 minutes. Anticipate spillovers by placing the pie pan on a cookie sheet.
  8. When the crust is golden brown, remove from the oven and cool on a baking rack.
  9. Serve warm, preferably with a scoop of ice cream.


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There are two days of the year when we never go to a restaurant: Mothers’ Day and Valentine’s Day. There are several reasons, and they are all very simple. First and most important, everyone else goes out to eat on those days. The effects of that are that one absolutely must have a reservation; even with a reservation it is guaranteed that you will have to wait – sometimes for hours; the menu is usually limited and often with nothing that is appealing; even in the best of restaurants the rush impacts the quality of service and the execution of the meal – to suggest that it may taste like cafeteria food is probably an overstatement, but not much; and finally, none of the staff really wants to be there – they would rather be at their own table – and you can sense that in their lack of smile and even civility.

That’s a long-winded way to say that we always cook dinner at home on Valentine’s Day. This year it was pan-sautéed beef filet, french fries,  asparagus with aioli, hard rolls, and dessert.

Dessert was coeur â la crème made in a beautiful French ceramic mold that we have had for as long as we have been married. The Americanized version of the dish uses cottage cheese, sour cream, yogurt, and whipped cream. Since that didn’t seem like enough calories, I topped it with a fresh strawberry coulis, and fresh strawberries. The heart-shaped mold was a perfect ending to a quiet Valentine’s Day dinner at home.


Coeur à la Crème


  • 1 cup small-curd cottage cheese
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • ½ cup heavy cream


  1. Place the cottage cheese, sour cream, and yogurt in the beaker of a food processor
  2. Blend thoroughly until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Pour into a medium bowl
  4. Whip the heavy cream and then stir into the mixture.
  5. Line a porous mold with three layers of moistened cheese cloth.
  6. Pour the mixture into the mold. Cover with the ends of the cheese cloth and place the mold in a rimmed plate.
  7. Refrigerate overnight.
  8. Unmold on a plate. Top with strawberry coulis. Garnish with fresh strawberries. Serve.

Strawberry Coulis


  • 1 pint fresh strawberries + more for garnish
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice


  1. Place all of the ingredients in the beaker of a food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to three days until ready to use.




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It’s beginning to be the season for fresh strawberries in California, but not here in New Mexico where we still anticipate at least one more hard freeze. Even though the grocery store versions of strawberries lack the sweetness and flavor of those at San Francisco’s Ferry Building, they have the advantage of being available year around. That is good, because this beautiful dessert is worth the effort any time of year. If you prefer, you can substitute your choice of other berries or any combination of berries.

Although I have tweaked it a bit, the original recipe comes from one of Deborah Madison’s excellent cookbooks: Seasonal Fruit Desserts From Orchard, Farm, and Market (Broadway Books, New York, 2010, p. 119). Deborah Madison now lives in Santa Fe and is viewed as the doyenne of the local food-writing community  even though she is not nearly old enough for such a title. She began her cooking career in the Bay Area, working at Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse and then eventually serving as the founding chef of what has been called the first high-end vegetarian restaurant, Greens. The restaurant is still popular and definitely worth a visit at its beautiful site on the edge of San Francisco Bay. Since then her cookbooks, including Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, have won many awards including the James Beard Foundation Book Award.

This dessert fulfills that well-earned reputation.

Just a few minute last-minute pointers: Resist the temptation to overfill the galette with fresh fruit. Make certain that the edges of the dough are well-sealed. Otherwise, it may leak, and you could face a major oven cleanup.


Pastry for Galette


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup pastry flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut in pieces
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 5-6 tablespoons ice water


  1. In a bowl large enough that you will be able to mix the dough with your hands, mix together the flours, salt and sugar.
  2. With a pastry blender, cut in the chilled butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. The crust will be flakier if some larger pieces of fat are left unblended.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk, lemon juice, and 4 tablespoons ice water. Pour over the dough mixture and work in with your hands.
  4. Add remaining ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together. It should not be sticky. Knead lightly; divide into two equal balls. Pat into discs about an inch thick, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Strawberry Galette


  • 4 cups strawberries, washed, hulled, and halved
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ pastry recipe (above)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon cream
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar


  1. In a large bowl, combine the halved strawberries, maple syrup, lemon juice, cornstarch, and vanilla extract.
  2. On a well-floured work surface, roll out one of the chilled discs of dough into a circle at least 13 inches in diameter.
  3. Arrange the rolled-out crust on a rimmed 13 x 18 inch baking pan lined with parchment. Top the crust with the strawberry mixture, leaving a 2-inch margin around the filling.
  4. Fold the edge of the crust over the filling so that it drapes over the filling and any folds are sealed.
  5. Sprinkle the melted butter over the filling.
  6. Brush the crust with cream and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  7. Bake in the middle of an oven preheated to 425°F for 35 minutes or until the crust is golden.
  8. Serve warm or cold with heavy cream, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream.


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We just returned from a week in the San Francisco Bay area. Our trip was primarily a baby-sitting junket, but we wound up experiencing a non-stop rush of food events. The main reason for our trip was so that our daughter and son-in-law could go to New York City to cook in a charity event in Rockefeller Center for CityMeals on Wheels, but we wound up baby-sitting while they cooked at their restaurant, Rich Table, for visiting chefs attending the Chipotle Cultivate Festival in Golden Gate Park. Then there was the NYC event itself, and while the offspring were out of town, we helped my son and his family with their annual crawfish boil in Silicon Valley, and then cooked a birthday dinner for my son.  In between all of this we had a spectacular all-holds-barred dinner at Rich Table and a late lunch at the Presidio Social Club, a lovely little place on the Presidio grounds. Finally we attended the awards ceremony for San Francisco’s Rising Star Chefs held in the Giants’ AT&T Park. Sarah and Evan cooked again, and the reception was a real food blowout.

Now we have to work on losing the weight we gained during this food extravaganza.

My first report from the week is about the Chipotle Cultivate Festival, sponsored by the Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant chain. This started out as an event in Chicago’s Lincoln Park three years ago, spread to Denver’s City Park last year, and now this year moved to include San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The event was held in Hellman Hollow with nearby Lloyd Lake. The festival was free with lots of live music, so there were big crowds. Chipotle had food stands around the grounds with some of their specialties for sale. There were lots of other food vendors, but one of the highlights was a series of cooking demonstrations by well-known chefs. Amanda Freitag, perhaps best known as one of the judges on the Food Network’s Chopped, travelled from New York City. So did Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff, co-owners of Big Gay Ice Cream Trucks, wildly popular in NYC. Ludo Lefebvre, Jon Shook, and Vinny Dotolo came up from Los Angeles. Michael Charello of Bottega in Napa Valley, Richard Blais from Atlanta, corporate chefs from Chipotle, and San Francisco chefs Minh Tsai, Evan Bloom, Led Beckerman, and Sarah and Evan rounded out the list of chefs who did cooking demonstrations throughout the day.

Sarah and Evan chose to prepare Sarah’s popular dessert, caramelized olive oil cake with fresh strawberry sauce and cream cheese ice cream. Oil cakes have been around for years, but recipes in cookbooks are often hard to find. Oil is used as a substitute for butter or shortening. Its liquid state at room temperature makes a moist cake, but that also means it will not support cake loft as much as solid fats. For that reason, the cake is more dependent upon incorporated air in other ingredients so it is important to beat those ingredients enough to give the cake lightness. Olive oil has only recently become a popular ingredient. The 1975 edition of the Joy of Cooking has three recipes for oil cakes but also strong advice to avoid olive oil because of its strong flavor. These days, that strong flavor has made olive oil cakes popular.

An additional step that makes Sarah’s cake special is caramelization. As she says, you can caramelize the top, the top and bottom,or all sides, depending how much time you want to spend. One way to caramelize the cake is to sprinkle it with sugar and use a salamander or torch as you might for a crême brulée, but that may be too tricky, so you can accomplish the same thing in a very hot skillet or griddle. The caramelization step can only be done when you are ready to serve the cake.

The second part of the demonstration dish was a strawberry sauce made from fresh strawberries. California strawberries fresh from the farm are totally unlike the flavorless, cardboardy kinds you get in the supermarket. The farm varieties are red, juicy, sweet, tender, and filled with the strawberry flavor of long ago. Adriana Silva, the owner of   Tomatero Farms near Watsonville and the strawberry purveyor, also participated in the demonstration. She has gone from 2 to 200 acres under cultivation in just a few years, and she raises six different varieties of strawberries which come in at different times during the season. The variety used for the demonstration was “Seascape”, a red, sweet beauty.

The final part of the dish for the demonstration was a generous topping of cream cheese ice cream, churned at Rich Table that morning. It is like eating a bite of cold New York cheesecake except that it melts in your mouth.


Olive Oil Cake


  • 8 large eggs
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ lemons, zested
  • 1 1/8 cups whole milk
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 1/3 cups almond flour
  • ¼ cup baking powder
  • 1½ cups extra virgin olive oil + more to grease the cake pan
  • granulated sugar to caramelize the top


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixture, combine the eggs and sugar. With the mixer set on medium speed, cream the eggs and sugar together for at least five minutes to incorporate as much air into the mixture as possible. It should form a smooth, shining ribbon.
  2. Turn the mixer to low and add the salt and lemon zest
  3. Slowly drizzle in the mil with the mixer still running.
  4. While the eggs and sugar are mixing, sift together the flours and baking powder.
  5. Add the sifted flours to the mixture, continuing to beat on low.
  6. Drizzle in the olive oil very slowly as you would making mayonnaise.
  7. Prepare a half sheet cake pan ( 16 x 12 x 3 inches) by oiling liberally with the extra olive oil
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Use a spatula to make sure the batter fills the corners of the pan.
  9. Bake in the middle of an oven pre-heated to 325°F for 25 minutes or until the cake springs back to the touch and/or tests clean with a toothpick
  10. Remove from the oven. Cool on a baking rack for five minutes. Then invert onto a flat surface. Gently transfer the cake. You may need to use your fingers or a thin spatula get the cake out in one piece.
  11. When ready to serve, cut the cake into serving-size pieces, sprinkle with sugar, and place sugared-side down on a clean hot griddle or skillet. When the sugar is caramelized (2-3 minutes) serve caramelized side up with sauce, whipped cream, or ice cream.


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A few weeks ago, that great blog, Baking with Sibella,  http://bakingwithsibella.wordpress.com/ featured a beautiful rhubarb and strawberry galette. More recently, Sibella has shown us how to make a rhubarb and strawberry sauce. Such inspiration!

I remember days in my grandmother’s back yard in the spring. She had three very old and very large rhubarb plants growing under a huge cottonwood tree. The leaves of the rhubarb were enormous – and of course inedible – but the children would pick a stalk, pull off the outer rind, sprinkle a little salt, and then pucker up our mouths from the sour-salt taste. That was fun while we waited for the sweet rhubarb pie.

Rhubarb has been a feature of our local farmers market for several weeks, and strawberries are just now becoming available. It’s the beginning of summer, and I think of rhubarb as a harbinger of spring. Never mind that my seasons are messed up, rhubarb and strawberry pie seems like the perfect thing to bake right now, so here goes:


Pie Crust


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/3 cup ice water


  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Then cut in the shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles fine crumbs
  • Stir in the ice water using a fork to combine. Pull together any loose crumbs, and pat the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Pie crust mix after cutting in the vegetable shortening

Rhubarb and Strawberry Filling

Stalks of rhubarb

Diced rhubarb


  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups rhubarb (6 to 10 stalks, depending on siz), cut crosswise in ½ inch pieces
  • 1 quart strawberries, washed and hulled

Fresh strawberries

Sliced strawberries


  • In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, salt, and vanilla extract.
  • Add the rhubarb and strawberries. Mix well

Final Assembly


  • pie dough and filling from above
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 egg white mixed with 1 tablespoon water
  • 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Baked pie on the cooling rack


  • Preheat oven to 450°
  • Remove the prepared pie dough from the refrigerator. Divide in half.
  • Roll out one half of the dough into a circle large enough to line a 9 inch pie pan
  • Roll out the remaining half of the dough for the top crust.
  • Transfer the rhubarb and strawberry mixture to the empty pie shell.
  • Dot the top of the filling with the butter and cover with the top crust. Crimp the edges of the pie and cut off any extra dough.
  • Cut several vents in the top crust. Paint the top lightly with the egg white mixture using a pastry brush. Then sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.
  • Bake at 450° for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350° for 40 minutes longer or until done. Be sure to have a pan on a lower shelf of the oven to catch any drips. If the edge of the crust gets too dark before the pie is baked, shield it with a ring of aluminum foil.
  • Cool on a baking rack.

Ready to eat


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