Rhubarb Cheesecake

Rhubarb Cheesecake_txt

It’s springtime!  Which means rhubarb!   Which means #YARROSF (Yet another rhubarb recipe on The Domestic Front).  Do you think I can get that trending?  If you’ve been reading my blog for the past five years, you know I am a rhubarb apologist.  It’s not too tart, it’s not too weird, and no, I don’t want to mix it with strawberries.  I love the flavor of rhubarb and every spring around this time I want to get into the kitchen with those rosy stalks.

This spring I’ve been trying to cut a lot of carbs out of my diet (more on that later, if you’re interested), and so after thinking about some new ways to use rhubarb, I hit on rhubarb cheesecake.  Pairing rhubarb with creamy custard is classic, and the almond crust plays a nice crunchy counterpoint to the creamy filling.  What I especially love about this recipe is that it’s so versatile for this time of year – the rhubarb cheesecake would be a beautiful addition to your Easter table, or, given that it’s gluten- and grain-free,  a great Passover treat.  I’ve provided both the low-sugar version (I used a sugar substitute) and the full-sugar versions below.

The cake is great on its own, but serving it with the remaining rhubarb compote really punches up the springtime flavor.  Both of my kids were fans, and repeated words that were music to this rhubarb-loving mama’s ears:  “More rhubarb, please!”

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Speculoos-Dipped Strawberries

Biscoff Strawberries TXT

Valentine’s Day is around the corner.  Some of us dismiss it as a cheesy Hallmark holiday.  Some of us revel in the traditional chocolate and champagne.  Some are happy to celebrate their loved ones, some are unbearably lonely, and some are just plain angry.  Love does that to us.

I’m no expert, but as I get closer to middle age than youth, I can tell you this about love:  love is surprising.  Sometimes the beginning of love is surprising – it can come when you don’t expect it to.  And sometimes the end of love is (sadly) surprising.  But there are a lot of surprises in the middle, too.

The surprises can be good – a grand romantic gesture you never expected from your significant other – or great – the way your heart fills to bursting when a child enters your family, and then fills even more when another child comes along.  They can be bad – discovering that your spouse has been behaving in a way that you never would expect, that shocks and hurts you – or just sad – realizing your relationship isn’t where you thought it would be.

Don’t mean to go all Richard Curtis on you all – I can get a bit maudlin this time of year – but I hope you can celebrate Valentine’s Day with people you love – your spouse, your girlfriends, your children, your family, or your dog (because is there any purer love?  I don’t think so.)  And treat them to something a little surprising.

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Slice and Bake Buckwheat Chocolate Shortbread

BUckwheat cookies

I love the holiday season – I really do.   I keep a nested to do list on my phone to keep track of Christmas presents.  I drive out of my way to find houses with the best light displays.  And I bake a lot of cookies.   But there’s a point in the season (and this year, it’s right about … now) when the merrymaking starts to feel a little forced.   I consult my calendar, and it reads something like “Holiday Performance (school):  10 am.  Holiday Performance (after school program): 2 pm.  Coworker’s Party:  4 pm.  Family Movie Night:  7 pm. ”  It should be followed by “Mom falls asleep on the couch: 7:30 pm.  Kids get into Christmas candy dish and smear chocolate on said couch:  7:34 pm.”  I’m a little burnt out, and when every single event on that calendar asks that you bring “a homemade dessert to share!” I start to consider putting my head under a pillow until January.

Fortunately, there are Christmas cookies that come to the rescue.  These are not the decorated, iced, hand painted, seven layered sugar swirled confections that usually constitute Christmas cookies.  These are a little more … austere, when austerity provides a welcome counterpoint to the mad festivity.  (And don’t  suggest just forgoing cookies altogether, BLASPHEMER.  It is Christmas and there will be cookies.)  These are easy to make – the dough comes together seamlessly, the ingredients aren’t too difficult to track down, and the log sits happily in your refrigerator (or freezer), ready to be sliced and baked whenever the calendar demands it.
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Roasted Green Beans with Herbs and Scallions

Thanskgiving Side String Beans with Herbs

I think of Thanksgiving dinner as existing in tiers of  necessity.  First, there must be a turkey.  That’s non-negotiable (unless you’re a vegetarian, of course, but we’re talking Norman Rockwell here).  Turkey is a core necessity.  Next tier:  gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pie.  Some variation is allowed there, giving allowance to individual preference (I MUST have sage stuffing, my husband MUST have pumpkin pie.)  After that some green vegetable (probably green beans or brussels sprouts), some orange vegetable (probably sweet potatoes).  Preparation can vary widely.  And finally, other assorted side dishes, where the variety is unlimited and depends on your family tradition – tomato aspic, cottage cheese jello “salad”, braised endives, parsnip gratin … the list is endless.

Our family is big enough that we get lots of variation in Thanksgiving dinner.  After the first couple tiers, we tend to go a little crazy with trying new recipes, and throwing weird vegetables into the mix.  Last year my mom brought this roasted green bean dish, and it was one of my favorite things on the table.  With all the richness on the Thanksgiving table – stuffings and gravies and gratins – a lighter, simpler vegetable dish can be a real relief.
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