Rhubarb, the ubiquitous elephant leafed perennial vegetable, often seems the intrepid gardener’s bane or blessing. Other than the annual strawberry and rhubarb pie there seems little else one can do with this fibrous, long-stemmed and tart flavored plant. In many neighborhoods, non-gardening neighbors fear to spring rituals: The driveway delivery of 10 yards aged compost, and the neighborhood gardener bearing a bundle of rhubarb spears. Yet, the much-maligned rhubarb offers itself to many a tasty treat, or unctuous libation.
Reduced to a smooth purée Rhubarb makes an unforgettable sparkling wine cocktail. If you have to harvest and clean rhubarb from your garden, the process takes about 20 minutes: purchase rhubarb from the grocer and the process takes 15 minutes.
4 quart pot
¼ cup measure
¾ lb cleaned rhubarb spears thinly sliced
¼ cup baker’s sugar (finely ground and dissolves quickly)
¼ cup water (just to get things going)
One or two bottles of Treveri Cellars sparkling Riesling www.trevericellars.com
NOTE: As the rhubarb mixture cooks, all of the liquid will evaporate
- Chill the sparkling wine.
- Place pot over medium heat and add all of the ingredients.
- Every few minutes give the rhubarb a good stir to break up the pieces. This helps great the smooth, jam like texture you’re looking for.
- Once the water and rhubarb juice has evaporated, the sauce is ready. You’ll notice a few clumps in the sauce, if you want a smoother rhubarb sauce simply pour the sauce into a blender and give it a few whirls until smooth.
- Pour the sauce into the storage container and refrigerate.
- In a champagne glass pour two tablespoons of the rhubarb sauce, then fill the glass with chilled sparkling Riesling.
Repeat as needed
This is not the bright yellow condiment in your refrigerator –this is a welcome accompaniment to many of the dishes on your table.
Whole grain mustard
* This recipe must rest for 24 hours
¼ cup yellow mustard seeds
¼ cup brown mustard seeds
½ cup white wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
Combine mustard seeds, vinegar and bay leaf in a non reactive bowl. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours.
Pulse in a food processor, adding honey, oil and salt until pasty.
Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
* This recipe rests for 24 hours
4 dried figs
½ cup dried apricots
½ cup dried apples
½ cup dried cherries
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ cups dry red wine
½ cup prepared mustard
¼ cup mustard seeds
Dice dried fruit and place in a bowl. Bring wine to a boil, add sugar and stir to dissolve.
Remove wine from heat add fruits, mustard and seeds. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours. Serve with charcuterie.
Recipe and story about Salt - so important yet still taken for granted - check this out...
Roasted Shrimp on Salt with a Garlic Butter Sauce
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
For the sauce:
Boil 1/3 cup dry white wine,2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and 2 minced garlic cloves in a saucepan until reduced to about 2 tablespoons.
Remove from heat and whisk in a few pieces of the chilled, diced 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter. Continue adding butter a few pieces at a time whisking until smooth.
Top with a few sprigs of chopped Italian parsley.
Pour into a dipping bowl, salt and pepper to taste.
Pour 1 4-pound box rock salt mixed with the zest from 1 lemon and 2 sprigs of
rosemary in a roasting pan. Nestle 16 uncooked unpeeled large shrimp in the salt
mixture and roast until shells are pink.
Serve with sauce.
Here is a fascinating story of salt from Zacchoreli Frescobaldi - Grimaldi
Winston Churchill noted, quite accurately: “History is written by the victors.” Such is the history of salt that ubiquitous mineral that mammalians have relied upon for thousands upon thousands of years: Long before popcorn was invented by the movie industry! Bygone historians would like us to believe that Romans discovered salt. Yet conquering Romans, with the exception of a production stint in 640 B.C., merely administered production rather than manufactured salt. In the Western World much of what we know about salt comes from this ancient Roman tradition of exploiting the vanquished.
The ancient Etruscans and Celts, two cultures that succumbed to the Roman war machine, produced salt long before the illegitimate offspring of Mars (war god not candy bar) and Rhea Silvia suckled at the she-wolf’s teat along the shores of the Tiber River. Indeed Egyptian’s manufactured salt for any number of uses, including mummification, long before baby Moses’ reed basket was discovered cruising the Nile by the Pharaoh’s nameless daughter. The empirical fact is that long before Roman, Egyptian and Chinese cultures were even organized homo sapiens sought salty resources necessary for their very survival.
As early as 6,000 B.C., near Lake Yuncheng the arid and dry regions inhabitants established a thriving salt works. Author Mark Kurlansky’s, novel: Salt, A World History, describes China’s contribution to salt’s culinary rise. Salt-based sauces and pastes extended the use of salt thus it could be used to inexpensively flavor a wide variety of foods. Flavoring food was but one tasty Chinese invention; they also excelled at salt-pickling preserving a wide variety of fish, meats and produce for year-round use. Long ensconced in China’s culinary tradition, pickled foods remain a popular salty condiment.
Even the Torah references the mineral’s culinary distinction. In Lev. ii 13 “salt of the covenant” suggests that salt was a culinary necessity thus using salt at a sacrifice was not a sacrifice of salt, but rather that god appreciated a little salt with his meal. In Genesis, Lot and his small family flee Sodom just before angels destroy the city on the plains. Led from the city they were warned by the kind angels, “Go to the mountains and do not look back!” Lot’s wife, her name lost to the ages, just had to get one last glimpse of the city and was instantly turned into a giant salt lick. No doubt enjoyed by many mammals for years to come. From Asia and the Mediterranean we have fish sauces made from fermented fish bits in brine. Fishing cultures gave us dried fish cod and squid: inexpensive in the days of yore, but quite expensive today as these items are considered delicacies. Communities in arid regions introduced salt cured dried meats. Our delicatessens would be less lively sans delicious dried meats and salted cheeses. Whatever the natural or source and cultural origin of salt, this little mineral’s influence on history is certainly colorful.
Although a little late for this St Patty’s Day – here is the whole story… history provided by research king Zacchoreli Frescobaldi- Grimaldi. Recipe by yours truly.
In a nutshell the etymology of corned beef is rather cut and dry. The reference “corned” emerges from the Proto-German, kuram, or little seed, which was applied to just about any little grain. Thus when granules of salt were used to preserve meat the product was identified as corned. Corned beef entered the Middle English lexicon around 1500 as the English and Irish pickled beef in brine for export to colonies around the globe. With Eastern European and Celtic origins corned beef eventually to develop into an association with the American celebration of St. Patrick’s Day as ubiquitous as leprechauns, shamrocks and green beer.
Few home food preservation methods could be easier. Simply brine the meat according to directions, rinse excess salt and cook with the requisite cabbage, carrots and onions. Serve with green beer. There is, however, a noticeable difference between home cured and commercially prepared corned beef. Commercial products use pink curing salts that contain an artificial dye that gives store-bought corned beef its healthy red hue. Those who make their own corned beef could use this same curing salt, but without it the end result resembles a fresh roast beef and just as delicious. It is worth some consideration that the red dye used in commercial products must quite hefty to dye the brisket through and through.
Here is the recipe for goodness, not much work but patience is necessary
4 pound beef brisket or bottom round
4 quarts water
1 cup kosher salt
½ cup brown sugar
12 black peppercorns
12 cloves garlic
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
8 allspice berries
12 juniper berries
2 bay leaves
Large zip lock bag
Place water in a large stockpot over high heat and add all ingredients Stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Place roast into a large zip lock bag, pour in cool brine mixture. Lay the bag flat in the refrigerator and turn daily for 10 days.
I think I would like to celebrate St Patrick’s Day by having my corned beef and cabbage in the form of a Rueben sandwich!
Photo courtesy of
Newer types of kale are now becoming available in the green grocers, the latest one I tried this week was “ Lacinto” an italian soft leaf kale - cavolo nero - sometimes callled dinosaur kale, because of it knobbly leaves,which gives the dressing lovely knooks to cling to.
Kale Caesar (somewhat)
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 oil packed anchovy fillets, minced
Zest of ½ lemon
Juice of 1 lemon = 2 tablepsoons
1 cup Verde Olive Oil
2 bunches lacinoto kale, center stems removed, leaves torn
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
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