Rhubarb Crisp

When using rhubarb in my cooking classes, I am always surprised at how few people have tried much less cooked with rhubarb. I always enjoy the tart crisp freshness of rhubarb in a pie, cobbler, or jam. I have also pureed it and added to brownies and ice cream. Try it this Spring!

Rhubarb is a thick, celerylike stalk that can grow up to 2 feet long.Though rhubarb
is generally eaten as a fruit, it’s botanically a vegetable.Rhubarb is an
extremely tart food with cherry red stalks and green leaves. The peak season for rhubarb is from April to June. Choose crisp stalks
that are brightly hued. The leaves should be fresh-looking and blemish-free. Highly
perishable, fresh rhubarb should be refrigerated, tightly wrapped in a plastic bag,
for up to 3 days. Because it is extremely tart,rhubarb is usually combined with a considerable amount of sugar. It
makes delicious sauces, jams and desserts. A traditional flavor combination is rhubarb and strawberries.

The recipe below uses rhubarb only but you could certainly substitute strawberries or raspberries for a portion of the rhubarb.

Serves 6 to 8

6 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 1/2 to 3 pounds rhubarb, tough strings removed, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (@ 5 to 6 cups)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon orange or lemon juice
1 teaspoon orange or lemon zest
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup pecans

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Grease an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish with a little butter
Toss rhubarb with sugar, orange or lemon juice and zest, and spread in a baking dish.

Put the 6 tablespoons butter in a food processor along with the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Pulse for 20 to 30 seconds ~ just until it looks like small peas and begins to clump together.
Add the oats and pecans and pulse a few times to combine.

Crumble the topping over rhubarb and bake until golden and beginning to brown ~ 45 to 50 minutes.

Homemade Mayonnaise, Garden Fresh Pesto and Italian Salsa Verde

Today in class we created six sauces~ 3 of which were from the classic “mother sauces”.
We made a delicious foolproof vinaigrette and 2 garden fresh pureed sauces.

We dined on pasta with 2 sauces ~ pesto and mornay~ , asparagus with hollandaise, and spring mixed greens with a tasty vinaigrette.

Following is a recipe for our pesto ~ we added a tad less oil than the classic recipe calls for~ it’s all a matter of personal preference…

Classic Pesto
The classic Italian sauce native to Genoa tastes delicious on everything from pasta to pizza to grilled fish. It’s excellent stirred into salads or slathered on sandwich bread. Although store-made pesto is widely available, it’s easy to make. Pesto is simply an uncooked paste consisting of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. It can be made with a mortar and pestle or in a food processor. Once you have mastered the basic recipe, you can get creative with other herb, nut, and cheese combinations.

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1/2 to 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
In a blender or food processor, pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until finely chopped.

With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil until the mixture forms a smooth and thick consistency. Add the Parmesan and pulse until combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Brined Pork Chops stuffed with walnuts and blue cheese and served with spiced apples


Brining pork 6 to 8 hours prior to cooking makes lean chops more flavorful. This also helps them retain their moisture during high heat cooking. While brining is not necessary, this simple treatment makes a succulent difference in what can sometimes be a dry and tough pork chop.

I stuffed mine with blue cheese and walnuts, panfried in a touch of oil, and finished it off with a pan sauce made with apples, balsamic vinegar, cinnamon and allspice.

Brined and Stuffed Pork Chops with Spiced Apples













5 cups water

1/2 cup kosher salt

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1cup apple cider

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons freshly cracked black pepper.


Stir together the water, salt, and sugar until the salt is completely dissolved. Add the remaining brine ingredients and mix well. Pour over the chops, making sure that they are completely submerged in the brining liquid. Refrigerate fro 6 to 8 hours.


Prior to cooking, make sure you pat the chops dry with a paper towel.


Soft Tacos with Spicy Lime Chicken

Put some spice in your weeknight dinner with this flavorful dish!

Serves 4

1 ¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

4 large flour tortillas

16 ounce can of refried beans or mashed black beans

juice if 1 lime

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese


freshly ground black pepper

shredded carrots and cabbage

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

½ teaspoon scumin

2 tomaotes,diced

1 avocado, sliced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


Boil the chicken in a large saucepan of boiling water for 10 minutes. It should register @165 degrees on a meat thermometer. Alternately, you may roast the chicken or use left over rotisserie chicken.

Shred the chicken into pieces with 2 forks. Return it to the pan it cooked in.

In a medium saucepan, heat refried bean, lime juice, garlic powder, hot sauce and cheese. Stir until the mixture is hot and the cheese has melted.

Season with salt and pepper.

Mix together the mayonnaise and cumin.

Season with pepper.

Add the shredded carrots and cabbage and mix well.

Add the refried bean mixture to the shredded chicken and toss well. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Serve the tacos with the coleslaw, chicken, diced tomatoes, avocado and cilantro.


Irish Potato Soup

Looking for an easy recipe to celebrate St Paddy’s Day? Try this delicious and filling soup! Top the soup off with croutons made from shamrock cookie cutters.

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 leeks, sliced
3 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3 (14 1/2-ounce) cans chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Toppings: shredded Cheddar cheese, crumbled cooked bacon, chopped fresh chives

Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat; stir in onion and leek. Cover and cook 20 minutes. Stir in potato; cover and cook 15 minutes. Stir in broth, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until potato is tender. Remove from heat, and cool slightly.

Process soup in batches in a blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides; return to saucepan, and cook over medium heat until thoroughly heated. Serve with desired toppings.

Yield:  11 cups

Hearty Beef Stew


In last week’s Fundamentals class, we made a delicious beef stew from a chuck roast that we trimmed and cut. The recipe has two very unusual additions ~ anchovies and gelatin. Curious? One adds flavor, the other adds a gelatinous texture to the stew.


Tips for Beef Stew

Purchase a roast, steaks, or chops and cut your own stew meat. Don’t use packaged stew meat.

  • The best cuts of meat for stews come from the shoulder.

•Trim away hard fat and silver skin.

•Cut meat into evenly shaped chunks.

•Heat oil in Dutch oven until just smoking.

•Blot the meat dry and season before searing.

•Brown the meat in batches to develop flavor.

•Sauté the aromatic vegetables to enhance their flavor.

•Add flour to the sautéed aromatic vegetables.

•Deglaze the pot with cooking liquid.

•Add browned meat and accumulated juices back to pot.

•Add vegetables according to their cooking times.

•Simmer stew in a 300-degree oven.








Vegetable Stir Fried Rice

This is a fabulous meal to throw together in one of those nights where time is short and everyone is starving! I make a huge batch of rice at the beginning of the week and use it for soups, salads, black beans and rice in my kid’s lunch boxes, and the for the one of our favorite quickies: vegetable fried rice. Use whatever veggies you have in your frig ~ just modify the cooking time depending upon their size and texture.











Serves 4

¼ cup canola oil

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger

1 cup finely diced peeled carrots (2 to3)

1 cup thinly sliced sugar snap peas (3-4 ounces)

6 to 7 scallions, trimmed, white and green parts thinly sliced

5 cups cold cooked rice

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup frozen peas

3 tablespoons soy sauce

Salt and freshly ground pepper


In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 minute. Add the carrots, sugar snap peas, scallions and rice and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until the rice is hot.


Add the eggs and peas and cook, stirring continuously, just until the eggs are set. Add the soy sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Buttermilk Baked Panko Chicken Tenders

Panko Chicken Tenders


8 slices bread  or 1 ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs

1 cup of buttermilk

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper

¾ cup grated parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon dried thyme or 3 teaspoons fresh thyme

1 pound Chicken breast tenders


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Generously rub a baking sheet with oil. In a food processor, pulse the bread until it turns to coarse crumbs.

In a large bowl, stir together the buttermilk, hot-pepper sauce, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper.

In a separate bowl, mix the breadcrumbs or panko, parmesan, thyme and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

Place the chicken in the buttermilk mixture, turning to coat evenly. Working with one piece at a time, remove the chicken from the liquid, letting the excess drip back into the bowl; dredge in the breadcrumb or panko mixture, turning to coat evenly. Place the coated chicken pieces on the prepared baking sheet. Leave enough space between the chicken pieces so that they crisp evenly all the way around.

Bake until golden – about 30 minutes.

Homemade Pancake Mix

I make a double batch of this dry mix  and keep it in my pantry. Healthier, cheaper, tastier and just as easy as a box mix!








4 cups flour

3 tablespoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar


To make the batter:  For each 1 cup of pancake mix, add and whisk together:

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 egg

1 cup milk


Ladle batter onto a hot griddle. When bubbles appear on the surface, flip them over. Cook @ 1 minute per side.

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