I can’t seem to get enough rhubarb this year. Their bright red stalks call to me at the market each week and I can’t resist bringing home an arm load. I have been mainly roasting it or turning it into compote and having it on oatmeal or with yogurt. I love the combination of the rhubarb with honey, vanilla and a little orange juice and maybe a few strawberries thrown in.
Sometimes the occasion calls for something a little more special. We had a friend for dinner last week and I decided to make dessert at the last minute. Shortcake popped into my head. It just so happened I had some local buttermilk and rhubarb in the fridge.
I played around with a shortcake recipe that has been in the family ever since I can remember. We often had it for dessert after Sunday dinner when the first of the local strawberries made an appearance. It was always a favourite. What is not to love about strawberries, cake and soft whipped cream.
This shortcake is made with buttermilk. I love the tang and crumb that it gives to the cake. I swapped out some of the all purpose flour for almond meal and oat flour, used unrefined cane sugar and added a little lemon zest.
The cake is lovely served with roasted rhubarb and strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream with thick yogurt folded in, sweetened with a touch of maple syrup.
A delicious, rustic cake that works perfectly with whatever fruit is in season. Fresh berries, roasted plums, fresh peaches. I don’t think you can go wrong.
Spring seems particularly beautiful and dramatic this year. Once again I am totally smitten with all of the blossoms.
Spring also means the return of another favourite, rhubarb.
I was delighted, a little giddy even, to see the first rhubarb at the farmers market this weekend. I have seen it coming up in gardens around the city and when poking around my Grandma and Aunt’s garden on Gabriola Island over Easter. But alas I do not have the space to grow my own so I rely on the kindness of others to supply me with this Spring delight. If I visit at the right time my parents or Grandma will send me home with some which is always a treat.
Thankfully Yolanda and Brian grow beautiful rhubarb at Shalefield Farm and brought the first picking to the market on Saturday. I asked if they knew which variety it was but they were unsure. What Brian did know is that he got the rootstock from a Mr Reinhart in 1973 from his backyard. I love it. I find rhubarb often has a story like this. It is handed down by friends, neighbours or family for generations. A friend of mine has a rhubarb plant that has been in her family for over 100 years. So special.
The first rhubarb of the season usually gets a simple treatment in my kitchen. Often a compote of some kind or crumble.
This year I thought I would try roasting it instead and it was really lovely. I liked the way it held its shape and colour. I wanted to let the flavour of the rhubarb shine so I kept things simple. I added a little fresh orange juice, some local wildflower honey, a vanilla bean and inspired by a tart that Aran at Canelle et Vanille was making a splash of orange blossom water for a twist. You could certainly add in a few strawberries too.
The aroma coming from the oven was sweet and heavenly.
The roasted rhubarb can be used as you would a compote. It would be very pretty served on top of pavlova or shortcake.
Last night we enjoyed it with some thick plain yogurt, lightly toasted pistachios and with a drizzle of the pink syrup on top. Simply delicious.
Happy Spring cooking!
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Spring has officially arrived. Hard to believe that the growing season is starting anew. I love Spring. It is a season of hope. A time of looking outward, of renewed energy and renewed inspiration. A new beginning as we come out of darkness into the light.
The sweet smells of blossoms and fresh cut grass.
What better way to spend the first day of Spring than at Cropthorne Farm, visiting with friends and talking about plans for the upcoming season.
There were signs of Spring on the farm. The sun was shining. The birds were singing. The propagation house was full of little baby veggies of all kinds, fuzzy chicks were keeping cozy in their house and a few bees were buzzing around the hive.
Even the winter crops of greens were putting out new life with fresh shoots and pretty flowers.
Rachel and Lydia sent me home with a beautiful bouquet of greens to munch on. Lucky me.
Spring also brings new animals. Oh the chicks! The cutest little gals I have ever seen. Each one individually named by Rachel’s daughter. I could have stayed in their little house all day, so cozy and cute.
I look forward to seeing them roaming outdoors in early summer and perhaps collecting an egg or two.
Thank you Lydia, Rachel and your lovely family for a perfect start to the Spring season. I look forward to all the beautiful vegetables this season and to capturing more of it on film.
Here’s to new life, new growth and a warm and sunny Spring!
Kaua’i stole my heart and my tummy. 10 days on the Garden Isle in the middle of February was 10 days of utter paradise. Just what the doctor ordered. What is not to love about welcoming and friendly locals, lush landscapes and warm fragrant air. The beauty of the island is breathtaking and wild.
We were greeted at the airport with warm hugs from family and arrived to a house filled local delights. Each day we indulged in loads of tropical fruit, fresh veggies and fish. As much as I love apples and squash, it was such a treat to have this variety of local produce to choose from in the middle of winter and loved ones to share it with.
Our days were filled with sunshine, rain showers followed by rainbows, walks on the beach, stunning hikes, swims in the ocean, farmers markets, ping pong and plenty of laughs.
Most mornings we were awoken by beautiful song birds and a wild chicken laying an egg.
As with all trips I take, food is my number one way to experience the local community and culture. Kaua’i certainly delivered on the food front. For such a small island, there is a strong local food movement and good availability of local produce and products made on Kaua’i. Even the local burger joint uses 100% Kaua’i grassfed beef.
We stayed in Hanalei, a small town on the North side of the island surrounded by breathtaking mountains. It has a limited number of restaurants, lots of surfers, great beaches, local organic produce and a friendly and very relaxed atmosphere. We fell into the lifestyle easily and happily.
Big daily decisions included whether to make lunch, go into town or eat tacos at the taco truck across the street.
The twice weekly farmers market kept us well stocked. Just a sampling of things we found include: arugula, kale, chard, green onions, carrots, beets, radishes, tomatoes, beans, eggplant, lettuce and other salad greens, avocados, basil, cilantro, all varieties of citrus, pineapples, star fruit, young ginger, fresh turmeric, bananas, and papayas.
Beautiful taro fields just outside Hanalei on a misty morning.
Fresh cold coconuts ready for drinking.
We ate many fruits we had never tried before like loquats, mulberries and a bunch of which I can’t remember their names. Some certainly better than others.
A walk into town (or drive to Kapa’a) often involved a stop at local coffee shop Java Kai for a pick me up in the form of an iced coffee or fresh fruit smoothie.
Beautiful citrus. We even had a lime and tangelo tree in the yard where we stayed. Such a novelty for this Canadian gal.
Some edible favourites that really stood out were the avocados, so rich and buttery. The pineapples for sure, particularly the white pineapples which are unbelievably sweet and juicy.
Oh and the limes. So many different varieties but all incredibly juicy and flavourful. When you touched them the oils would just rub off on your hands they were so fresh and fragrant.
A daily drink creation involved mango or pineapple juice, fresh squeezed lime juice, young ginger and sparkling water. Yum.
And then there were the bananas. These are apple bananas and Cuban reds I believe. I can take or leave a banana most days but not these ones. Just the perfect size, texture and sweetness. Everything tastes better when it is picked and eaten fresh.
This is just a taste of what Kaua’i has to offer. I want to share some of our finds should you find yourself on Kaua’i and in search of good food.
Lots of information on local farms and products at Kauai Grown
A great list of farmers markets and all kinds of info at Edible Hawaiian Islands
Places to eat and drink in Hanalei: Java Kai, Pat’s Taqueria (taco truck), Hanalei Taro and Juice Co, Bubba’s Burgers, Tahiti Nui for an afternoon or evening Mai Tai, and The Dolphin for a great meal or to buy fresh fish. We heard lots of good things about Bar Acuda but we didn’t make it there this time.
Kunana Dairy has yummy goat cheese and beautiful organic produce.
Gelato from Papalani Gelato.
Raw honey from Shagnasty Honey. Love the name!
You know when you have an idea of what a place will be like and then you arrive and it far exceeds any expection? That was Kaua’i for me.
Words are failing to describe the beauty and joy I experience while on Kaua’i. Hopefully the images help where words have failed.
It was certainly hard to leave this all behind. Vancouver welcomed me back properly with its dark, cold and rainy skies. All I could do to cope after getting home from the airport was to hide under my flannel sheets and dream of warmer days.
But I am left with a heart, soul and belly that are well nourished and a feeling of hope that spring is not too far around the corner.
Mahalo Kaua’i. Until we meet again.
I have noticed a salad theme sweeping across many food blogs and websites in the past few weeks. It is no surprise that most of us are craving something fresh and light after all the indulgences of the holidays. This winter citrus salad looks particularly delicious over at Canelle et Vanille.
I think we have had a salad nearly every day since the new year began. I make a point of getting to the farmers market near opening on Saturday mornings as the salad greens are gone in a flash this time of year. The greens in the grocery store just don’t compare.
This salad mix from Cropthorne Farm is so lovely with baby beet greens, different kinds of mustards, arugula and baby lettuces. Most days these greens just get a gentle toss with a little balsamic and olive oil and a few veggies thrown in. Kohlrabi and fennel have been regulars these days.
This warm chevre and roasted apple salad is perfect for fall or winter. It is fresh and tasty but quite satisfying with the goat cheese and roasted apples. The salad works well as a first course or as an accompaniment to a warming bowl of soup and hunk of crusty bread.
It is still all about apples around here. In terms of fresh local fruit we are down to apples and pears, end of story. Thankfully I love apples and there are so many varieties to taste and play around with. I went with Ambrosia for this recipe as you want an apple that is on the firm and crisp side so that the apples hold their shape and texture during cooking. I am sure Gala, Braeburn, Fuji or Pink Lady would work as well.
I suppose it is time I got into the kitchen myself. It is miso salmon for us with lots of stir-fried veggies. I think tonight’s salad will have some citrus, radish and lots of fresh greens.
I hope the year is off to a good start for you. What kinds of foods are finding their way into your kitchen these days?