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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!”

Rhubarb Cheesecake Slice Continue reading Rhubarb Cheesecake

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.

Continue reading Speculoos-Dipped Strawberries

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.
Continue reading Slice and Bake Buckwheat Chocolate Shortbread

Roasted Green Beans with Herbs and Scallions

Roasted Green Beans

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.
Continue reading Roasted Green Beans with Herbs and Scallions

Fresh Cranberry Pie with Marzipan and How to Make Pie Crust

Cranberry Pie Whole
You guys!  I made this pie because I was looking for a double crust pie so I could revisit my pie crust tutorial (a few things have changed in my go-to technique since the last one I posted), and most of my fruit pie fruits are not in season, but now I’m kind of obsessed.  Fresh cranberries!  In pie!  Why is this not a thing?  Cranberries might be the perfect pie fruit — they’re tart and juicy, but have a pretty high pectin content, so your pie filling doesn’t run all over the place.   The flavor is a lot like fresh sour cherry pie, but fresh sour cherries are only available one week of the year, in very small parts of the US, and cranberries can be gotten EVERYWHERE for at least two months when most pie fruits are out of commission.    And just LOOK at the color:

Cranberry Pie Slice

It’s great, is all I’m saying.

Now on to pie crust. I like to walk my readers through making pie crust, because I feel like so many people are like “Pie crust?  Who has the time for that!  It’s too hard!” and I want to pat your head and say, “No, it’s OK – you can do it.”  You don’t have to own a walk in freezer or live in the arctic to make your pie dough (though it is a bit tougher on a warm day.)  You don’t have to source special kinds of lard or NOT TOUCH IT OR IT WILL BE OVERWORKED.  Pie crust is pretty forgiving.  If it cracks? Patch it.  If you can’t roll it out in a perfect circle?  Nobody cares.  At the end of the day you will have pie, and people will love you.  This is the way I’ve been making my pie crusts, and it works pretty darn well.

Continue reading Fresh Cranberry Pie with Marzipan and How to Make Pie Crust

Sourdough Stuffing with Caramelized Onions and Chard

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Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that can be hidebound by tradition.  Even the most adventurous eater has certain holiday rules that make Thanksgiving dinner more than just a lot of food.  For some, jellied canned cranberry sauce is required.  For others, they have to have grandma’s sweet potato casserole.   My husband has to have pumpkin pie.  My parents once shared Thanksgiving dinner with otherwise reasonable people who insisted on green bean casserole with condensed cream of mushroom soup and canned fried onions (I actually love the stuff, but it’s not part of our family’s Thanksgiving tradition.  Which mostly involves making everything from scratch.)

I consider myself pretty open minded with regards to Thanksgiving.  Obviously – turkey.  And cranberry sauce in some form.  Some vegetables are nice. Some form of pie.  I don’t even need rolls.   There is one dish, however, without which Thanksgiving is just not worth celebrating – and that’s my dad’s old-fashioned fresh sage stuffing  (Coincidentally, today is my dad’s birthday. Happy birthday, dad. I miss you).  This is not that.
Chard Stuffing Ingredients
Continue reading Sourdough Stuffing with Caramelized Onions and Chard

Fourth of July Summer Recipe Round Up

Even more perfect -- Pounders beach

Happy summertime!  It has been hot hot hot here – too hot to do much of anything besides lie around on the couch complaining about the heat.  I decided we needed to get the kids out of the house Saturday, so we made a trip to the library and then discovered a local ice cream parlor that  makes its own fresh fruit frozen yogurt.  I also discovered the joys of raspados – shaved ice layered with fresh fruits and condensed milk – SO refreshing on a hot day!  It’s fortunately cooling down going into the fourth of July, so we’ll be able to get our celebration on!  If you’re planning for parties this week or next weekend, here are some of my favorite summer recipes to share!

Continue reading Fourth of July Summer Recipe Round Up

Crockpot Mexican Pork Carnitas

Carnitas Tacos 2

I must have missed out on the “party planning gene” that every other person in the world seems to have, or at least other moms. I look at Pinterest, with the decorations and the tablescapes and the elaborate menus – and break out into a cold sweat. The theme for my kids’ birthday parties is “birthday party.” Or really, “Come to our house and eat some cake.”

But I LOVE to have people over. My idea of the perfect summer evening is sitting on our back deck with some good friends while our kids run wild in the back yard, chatting over a glass of wine or a margarita and eating yummy food. The key is relaxing and having fun, not throwing a fit over a menu. So I’m always looking for low-key, low-stress recipes to feed a crowd. Things that I can make that don’t require a lot of last minute preparation (to allow for appropriate amounts of yapping and wine-drinking) but that are delicious enough that people want to come back and hang out some more.
Continue reading Crockpot Mexican Pork Carnitas

Garlic Butter Glazed Carrots with Mint

Glazed Carrots

When I was a kid, we mostly ate salads.  My dad was not a vegetable-lover, and with a few notable exceptions (artichokes and asparagus) we primarily consumed our vegetables raw.  As a result, I held a deep-seated prejudice against most forms of cooked vegetables.  I rejected red peppers. I scoffed at spinach.  I pooh-poohed parsnips.  But the worst offender in my young mind was cooked carrots. (Possibly because this is one of those kid-friendly foods people were always trying to serve to me.)  I despised and loathed cooked carrots.  They were anathema, and not a morsel of the reviled substance passed my lips.

Fast forward several years to New York City, circa 2002.  I was browsing the shelves of my favorite used bookstore in Soho (Housing Works.  Wooden bookshelves, leather chairs, a little cafe in the back, a library ladder …) when I stumbled on a copy of the classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Child, Bertholle and Beck.  Then, as now, I was lazy (let’s call it “time-pressed” – I was, after all, in law school) so I skipped through the eight-page cassoulet recipe or the 36-hour Boeuf Bourguignon, and lit upon the vegetables.  Carrots, braised in butter.  Six ingredients, two sentences.  I was sold.

I cut up my carrots, added my butter, my water, my salt, my sugar, and what resulted was a revelation.  Not nasty.  Not watery.  Not insipid.  Carrots expressing everything glorious about carrots except the crunch. I was hooked.  And that recipe, that first start, got me cooking more vegetables. which has brought me to my year of living vegetally.  Because here’s the secret about vegetables.  They are good for you.  They are full of vitamins and nutrients.  They have fiber and antioxidants, and you can feel morally superior when you eat them.  But if we prepare them correctly and season them well, they are DELICIOUS. My husband and I were fighting over this particular batch.

Rainbow Carrots
Continue reading Garlic Butter Glazed Carrots with Mint

Eggnog Rum Balls

Eggnog Rum Balls

Advent season is here! For those of you unfamiliar with the Christian tradition, advent is the start of the liturgical calendar, the time of preparation for Christmas, the beginning of it ALL. There is a trend I see towards a minimalist Christmas. Cut the hassle, forget the tree, count calories, draw names in a gift exchange. I understand the pull for simplicity – aren’t our lives full enough? Do we need more complication, more stuff? But when I think about advent, and the Christmas season, and the kind of memories I have from childhood, and the kind of memories I want my children to have – I am not drawn towards austerity. The word I want for Christmas is abundance.

We are lucky to have the blessings and the resources we have – the blessings of family, of income, of time together – and in the Christmas season I want to celebrate those blessings. Trimming the tree, visiting Santa, decorating the house, sending cards to friends far and wide, entertaining the neighbors, choosing gifts for our loved ones and those less fortunate than we are, spending time by the fireplace, sipping hot chocolate, baking cookies, opening presents, feasting, laughing, giving — I want ALL of these to feature strongly in my children’s memories of the season.

Christmas is, after all, a season of celebration. The “reason for the season” is not malls and office parties and eight million renditions of “Do You Hear What I Hear?”, the second most awful Christmas song of all time (the first being, of course, “Christmas Shoes.”) But it is giving, and it is celebrating, and it is singing. Whatever your tradition, we are all celebrating this time of year. The miracle of light, the return of the sun, a baby being born into the world. All are the return of hope in in a time of adversity. What’s not to celebrate about that?
Continue reading Eggnog Rum Balls