Saturday, June 27, 2015

Rhubarb BBQ Sauce and Bonus Rhubarb Applesauce

Rhubarb BBQ sauce is a savory use for rhubarb this season.  Its tartness lends itself really well to grilled pork and chicken.  Use Rhubarb BBQ sauce on burgers as a thick ketchup too.  Just in time for the nation's birthday.

If rhubarb is already out of season in your area, you can use frozen rhubarb for this recipe. 

Rhubarb recipes often use a lot of sugar.  To cut the amount of sugar back, I first made a Rhubarb Applesauce using 4 cups of chopped rhubarb and 2 peeled and diced apples.  Most rhubarb sauces use 1 cup of sugar for 4 cups rhubarb.  With two apples, use only 1/2 cup sugar.

Place the three ingredients into a heavy bottomed pot in which the fruit will cook down over medium-low heat.  Add a splash of water (about an ounce) to get the mixture going without scorching the fruit.  Cover the pot, check it and stir occasionally.  The sauce should be broken down within 20 minutes.  Use a masher to break down the last chunks of apple.

Now you have about 2 cups of Rhubarb Applesauce, a tart and refreshing twist on applesauce.  Set aside half to enjoy as a snack.  Eat as is or enhance with a few drops of vanilla or almond extract and a shake of cinnamon.

Use the remaining cup to make Rhubarb BBQ sauce.

Rhubarb BBQ Sauce
Yields about 2 cups

1 cup Rhubarb Applesauce (see above)
1 14-ounce can low sodium tomatoes, un-drained
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon dill weed
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon celery seed
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  1. Combine Rhubarb Applesauce with tomatoes, vinegar and molasses in a heavy bottomed pot.  Cook on medium-low heat while you mix the spice blend.
  2. In  a small bowl, mix together the next ten ingredients, ground mustard through red pepper flakes.  
  3. Add spice-salt blend to rhubarb mixture.  Lower heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Use an immersion blender to puree the sauce. Use warm or cold.  Store in a covered cotnaciner it the refrigerator.  use within three days.
Another great use for Rhubarb BBQ Sauce is to make quick barbequed beans.  Stir some sauce into some canned (drained) white beans and cook to heat through.  Instant barbeques beans, vegetarian friendly.  You can also make these in a small quantity slow cooker-- on low for 2 hours- to really soak in the flavor. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Mushroom Goat Cheese Quesadillas

Have you noticed?  The Pure Foods Project is focusing on mushrooms for the past few weeks.  This time of year is wonderful for mushroom hunting.  Find someone knowledgeable to help you forage or take advantage of the abundance that finds its way to farmers markets.

This week, mushrooms sauteed with lemon and parsley create a vegetarian base for several easy meal ideas.  Top a pizza, flavor a quiche, serve as an appetizer rolled into some puff pastry or create a French-fusion dish, Mushroom Goat Cheese Quesadillas.

These can be made ahead and frozen.  To reheat, defrost for a half a minute in the microwave (or defrost in the refrigerator before you head off to work).  Then reheat in a toaster oven or skillet.  Mushroom Goat Cheese Quesadillas are also nice to have around for a last minute appetizer.  Defrost, reheat and cut into wedges to serve guests.

The secret ingredient is mashed white beans.  A lot like Mexican refried beans, mashed white beans provide substance and sustenance here.

Mushroom Goat Cheese Quesadillas
Yield: 8 quesadillas

10 ounces mushrooms
1 tablespoon oil
salt, pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
juice of 1/4 lemon
1 12-ounce can white beans (low sodium), drained
2 ounces soft goat cheese
8 flour tortillas (plain or whole wheat)
1/2 cup shredded Gouda (smoked or plain)

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F.
  2. In a wide skillet, saute mushrooms in oil over medium high heat.  Salt and pepper mushroom as they cook down.
  3. Once mushrooms are tender, add parsley and lemon juice.
  4. While mushrooms cook, place beans and goat cheese in a a food processor and process until beans are broken down but not completely pureed.  You will have a thick mixture.  
  5. Place bean mixture in a bowl.  Fold in cooked mushrooms.  
  6. Lay tortillas on a lightly oiled baking sheet.  Scatter about a tablespoon of shreded Gouda cheese on each.  
  7. Equally divide the bean-mushroom mixture among the eight tortillas, spooning it over one half of each tortilla.  
  8. Fold tortillas over to form half circles.  Rub the top of each with a little vegetable oil and bake 12-15 minutes, turning once, until tortillas are lightly browned.
Enjoy immediately or cool and freeze for future use.  

Friday, June 12, 2015

Easy Mushroom Steak Sauce

This is a simple sauce for grilled or roasted beef that combines the best of mushroom sauces and classic steak sauces.  Dribble any extra over potatoes or rice.  It can be made well ahead of the grilling task, even a day ahead if you'd like to put your feet up while others do the grilling.

Easy Mushroom Steak Sauce
Yield: about 1 1/2 cups

10 ounces Bella mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
squeeze of lemon juice or splash of sherry vinegar
8-10 ounces beef or chicken broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
2 ounces cold water

  1. Clean and slice mushrooms. 
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add olive oil and mushrooms.  Add salt and pepper and saute until mushrooms a almost cooked through.
  3. Add lemon juice or sherry vinegar and allow to cook down.  
  4. Add broth, Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard.  Lower heat to simmer and cook mixture 2-3 minutes.
  5. In a small cup, stir corn starch into cold water.  Pour into sauce while stirring.  Keep stirring while cornstarch slurry is absorbed and sauce thickens,  Add more water or broth if too thick for your tastes.  Sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  
  6. Remove from heat.  Serve immediately or cover and store in refrigerator.  Use within two days.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Summer Crock Pot Poached Chicken and Mushrooms

Chicken cooked low and slow in a crock pot (aka slow cooker) comes out tender and keeps the kitchen cool.  The slow cooker is a great option on nights when it is too hot to turn on the oven. 

The 'secret' to the rich yet light suace is dried mushrooms. They reconstitute alongside the cooking chicken. 

If you do not have time to make this meal for tonight's dinner, make it alongside a quick to prepare one and enjoy a pre-cooked meal tomorrow night or take poached chicken to work the following day.

For this recipe, select skinless chicken breasts with the bone-in.  Once the chicken is cooked, remove and cool for a few minutes before pulling away the bone. Slice and return to the vegetables and broth to serve over rice.  If you are using boneless chicken breasts expect the dish to be ready about 20 minutes sooner.

Summer Crock Pot Poached Chicken and Mushrooms
Serves 4


6 carrots
4 ribs celery
1 medium zucchini
1/2 ounce dried Porcini mushrooms2 large* skinless chicken breasts, bone in preferred
1/4 teaspoon each dried thyme and basil
Salt and pepper
1 cup chicken broth
 optional: 1 cup green beans

*if using smaller breasts on boneless ones, cut back the cooking time but about 20 minutes.  

  1. Peel carrots and cut in half crosswise.  If very large, split down the middle to create large pieces that are of uniform size.  Place in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Cut celery and zucchini into large chunks. Add to the carrots in the pot.
  3. Scatter dried mushrooms over vegetables.
  4. Place chicken breasts on top of vegetables.  Cover with salt and pepper.
  5. Pour chicken broth over chicken and vegetables. 
  6. Turn slow cooker on high for 2 1/2 -3 hours.  Check chicken at the 2 hour mark.  If it has reached 165˚F degrees, remove and leave vegetables to finish cooking.  Vegetables are ready when you can cut a carrot with a fork.
Serve over brown rice or egg noodles.