This scrumptious rhubarb buttermilk cake is the perfect finish to our rhubarb series. It seems like the type of dessert my grandmother would have served me, accompanied by tea in one of her prized china cups. It’s comforting and old fashioned, but certainly worthy of guests.
The crunchy crunchy almond and oatmeal brown sugar crust tops a moist and tender interior. With four cups of rhubarb, to two cups of rhubarb, it is not shy on rhubarb flavour. With time the rhubarb flavour becomes more pronounced, and the cake also becomes more moist, almost like a custard. You could serve it with ice cream or whipped cream, but I like it best with the cheesecake yogurt, which also make me feel less guilty about eating a big honking slide of it for breakfast.
If you are a fan of rhubarb, here are a few other recipes you might enjoy:
Rhubarb Buttermilk Coffee Cake
This seasonal rhubarb coffee cake, with the crunchy brown sugar, almond and oatmeal topping, is so moist, and just gets better with a few days. The creamy cheesecake yogurt tastes indulgent without the fat and calories of ice cream.
If I said to you “You and me are having a bit of a rhubarb” you’d probably think I had made a grammatical error, but actually it’s perfectly correct. Although not commonly used, rhubarb also means a heated dispute or controversy.
As I write this it’s 5am – the light is just beginning to creep up behind the houses. Maybe too early to be thinking about arguments… Is it also too early to be thinking about cocktails? Nah… Especially rhubarb based ones.
This rhubarb syrup is quick to whip up, doesn’t require any fancy juicing equipment and is a great addition to spritzers, mojitos, margaritas… I could go on. In fact, rhubarb makes a great substitute for cranberries – so go ahead and try this syrup in your favourite cranberry based cocktails. You can add a bit of ginger when boiling the rhubarb to give it some heat – and which mixes very nicely with sake based cocktails.
It keeps in the fridge for about a week – which frankly is just not long enough for me, so I freeze it in ice cube trays so that I can enjoy it throughout the summer.
If you love rhubarb, here are a few other recipes you might enjoy:
This week we’re celebrating the arrival of rhubarb season and sharing some favourite recipes. Today’s recipe is healthy enough for breakfast and decadent enough for dessert. It layers chia pudding, with rhubarb compote, cheese cake yogurt and crunchy granola. Bonus that it is sweetened with natural maple syrup and all the components can be made in advance and just assembled in the morning (note – the chia pudding layer must be made the night before so that it has time to thicken up).
The chia pudding, is a slight variation on Angela Luddon’s chia pudding (just slightly less almond milk). The rhubarb compote is juicy and still slightly tart, with a touch of ginger and cinnamon, and the cheesecake layer is simply plain yogurt blended with some softened cream cheese and maple syrup. You can use any granola for the crunchy topping – I make mine in huge batches a few times a year and keep it in the freezer, all ready to go.
Note: This is a week three breakfast item in my monthly meal plan and grocery shop. Yogurt and cream cheese will keep for three weeks if unopened (always check your best before dates). The rhubarb compote can be made in advance and frozen.
Rhubarb Cheesecake Chia Breakfast Parfait
Healthy enough for breakfast, decadent enough for dessert.
The return of the rhubarb is one of my favourite things about spring. Rhubarb is one of the few edible items in my small back yard garden, and it is so satisfying to pick a few stalks, lop off the heavy leaves with a sharp knife, and be able to use it immediately.
I add rhubarb to cakes, pies, relish, and cocktails. But my favourite way to enjoy it, is pretty much the simplest way – in a rhubarb compote. My grandmother had many, many rhubarb plants, and she used to bring us 4 litre ice cream containers full of her rhubarb compote, several times each season. To get through it all, we’d have it three times a day – over oatmeal or buttered toast in the morning, in our yogurt at lunch, and then over ice cream for dessert. Sometimes we’d simply have a big bowl of it, topped with crumbled meringues and whipped cream.
Rhubarb is very difficult to find out of season. So last year, when a neighbour shared some of her extra rhubarb I tried slicing and then freezing. And guess what? The rhubarb compote made with that frozen rhubarb was perfect! Now I’ll be freezing rhubarb every year.
This rhubarb compote is spiced up with a bit of ginger and cinnamon and is a little more tart than most compotes. If it’s too tart for your liking add a little extra maple syrup at the end. The raspberries are optional – they will deepen the colour, but also add some flavour. I find the raspberries complement the rhubarb, but if you aren’t a fan of raspberries, a slice of beet will also brighten the colour, just remove it after you have simmered the stalks.
Rhubarb Ginger Compote
This rhubarb compote is flavoured with ginger and cinnamon, and coloured with raspberries. It's delicious over ice cream, yogurt, cake, and oatmeal and freezes perfectly.
This leek and potato soup was my grandmother’s recipe and knowing I loved it, she would often make it for me when I went to visit.
Shortly after she passed away I saw leek and potato soup on a menu and ordered it in memory of her. Although it was tasty, the blended concoction was nothing like the chunky, buttery leek and potato soup my grandmother made. I’d have to make my own.
This recipe is based on her original, which thankfully my mother had. I’ve taken a few liberties adding the sweet potato and parsley, but overall it is true to the original.
I’ve made this soup for ski weekends, to comfort friends who have lost a loved one or are battling illness, and to nurse a cranky husband. It’s warming and comforting.
I hope you enjoy.
Leek and Potato Soup
Many leek and potato soups are blended to a cream. This one is still creamy and buttery, but left chunky and attractively coloured with the green of the leek and parsley and orange of the sweet potato.
Trim the rooted end off the leek. Then slice the white part in half lengthwise and then across into semi circles about 1/4 inch thick. Remove the tough outer edges from the green part and slice the more tender inner leaves into 1/4 inch rounds. Rinse carefully in a colander to remove all dirt.
Melt the butter in a medium size sauce pan over medium-low heat. The pot should be just hot enough to melt the butter - it should not sizzle or brown.
Add the diced onion, chopped leek and parsley stems to the melted butter. Stir to coat and then cover the pot with a lid to let the vegetables sweat and soften. Make sure the heat is low enough that the vegetables will not brown.
After 10 minutes stir and then add the 2 cups of stock and sweet and white potato cubes. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, until the potato has softened.
Add the 2 cups of milk and warm over medium-low heat, just until the soup is heated. Add the salt, ground pepper and 1/2 the chopped parsley leaves. Serve immediately garnished with the remaining parsley. Note: if you let the milk over heat or if you don't serve it right away it may develop an unattractive layer on top, but it can be stirred in and it will still taste delicious. Alternatively, prepare the soup up to where the potatoes are cooked and then add and heat the milk just before serving.
One year for Christmas, my father received a cook book titled “His Turn to Cook”.
There was a not so subtle message in that gift, and Dad must have embraced it to some extent, because many of the meals I remember him cooking were from that book and became family staples.
One of these was this chilli, which was often served after coasting parties, alongside my mother’s home made bread and a variety of salads. I always thought of it as a man’s chilli, with all the big hunks of meat, but it’s balanced out by the variety of beans – I especially love the addition of chickpeas.
My favourite thing about any chilli is all the different types of accompaniments. Top it with avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream, cilantro, or fresh tomato salsa. Offer sides of corn chips or corn bread, or serve it over rice, or a crunchy green salad.
You can start this recipe on your stove top and then once the meat is browned, finish it in your slow cooker. It’s better after it sits for a day, or after freezing.
Devil's Delight Chilli adapted from His Turn to Cook
A twist on the typical chilli this one is spicy and very meaty with bacon, browned sausage, and cubed beef, and uses high fibre chickpeas and pinto beans along with the typical kidney beans. This recipe can easily be made in large batches and frozen for make ahead meals.
I arrived in Morocco without a plan or any real knowledge of the country. Immediately, I fell into its splendour and mystery. Compared to Canada, it’s not a large country, but it holds mountains, desert and coastal landscapes. Within its ancient cities are the maze-like souks, each corner offering a path to a new treasure – hand knotted rugs, an array of colourful spices artfully tapered to a tall point, brightly dyed cloth, delicate glass tea cups. The medieval architecture has provided the backdrop for productions like Gladiator and Game of Thrones and in the air there is music that at times is joyful, sorrowful, rising and nostalgic, and unlike any music you would on the streets in North America.
Even the food offers combinations of flavours that are unusual and surprising. Spices of cinnamon, cloves and cardamon are more likely to flavour a tagine than a dessert. Dig into a meaty stew only to pull up an apricot or prune. A pastry covered in cinnamon sugar, holds a steaming pigeon pie.
The landscapes and souks I had to leave behind in Morocco, but with a few cookbooks, the internet and the limited but growing number of Moroccan restaurants here in North America my Moroccan food journey continues.
This vegan Moroccan Sweet Potato Chickpea Bowl gets a quick start with my favourite, versatile and freezable curried chickpea filling. A small handful of dried fruit, plumped in hot water is added to the chickpea mixture. A sweet potato is tossed with a combination of cumin, cinnamon, tumeric and honey and then roasted. These are served over a bed of whole wheat couscous and then the whole bowl is topped with a crunchy pistachios. Add some greens on the side and you have a healthy, filling and satisfying meal. If you are following our monthly grocery shop, this is a great meal for weeks 3 or 4 when fresh produce may be getting low.
Moroccan Curried Chickpea Bowl (Vegan)
Spicy chickpeas studded with plumped raisins, roasted honeyed sweet potato, served on a mound of couscous and topped with crunchy pistachios.
Cover the sultanas/raisins/dried apricot in 1/2 cup of very hot (just boiled) water. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Combine the cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne and salt with the honey and olive oil. Mix with the sweet potato chunks. Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake in hot oven for 20 minutes, or until tender, flipping half way.
Boil 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Add the salt and olive oil, then the couscous. Stir to combine, then cover the pot with the lid, remove from heat, and let sit for 5 minutes.
If using pistachios crush with a rolling pin or pestle and mortar. If using almonds toast lightly in a dry pan over medium heat, removing from the pan as soon as you start to see a light brown colour.
Add the soaked sultanas/raisins/dried apricot to the chickpea filling. Heat to desired temperature in the microwave, on the stove or in a small ovenproof dish alongside the potatoes.
To assemble: Mound the couscous in the bottom of the bowl. Surround with the sweet potatoes on one side, and the curried chickpea mixture on the other. Sprinkle with the nuts and cilantro if using.
Spring is just around the corner here. The temperature is starting to linger above zero, birds are singing, patches of grass are visible through gaps in the snow and best of all – the light remains for a few hours after the work day ends. Soon, dinner will be followed by bike rides and walks and gardening. Or dinner itself might just happen outside.
Which brings me to the next recipe in this series using my favourite vegan, versatile and freezable curried chickpea filling. It is transportable, super quick to pull together and satisfying, and I love the juxtaposition of the warm softness of the chickpeas against the cold crunch of the cucumber.
Warm Curried Chickpea and Tahini Power Wrap
Spicy chickpeas, with crunchy cucumber and creamy tahini, all rolled up in your favourite wrap.
For the Tahini Dressing: Add all the ingredients for the tahini dressing to a small dish and mix with a whisk or small hand blender until throughly combined. If the dressing is too thick add a little more water.
Place the spinach and cucumber in a line down the centre of the wrap, leaving about an inch at one end of the wrap.
Mix the tahini dressing with the quinoa and spoon over the spinach and cucumber.
Warm the curried chickpea filling in the microwave or on the stove (or have it at room temperature) and add it alongside the quinoa.
Fold up the space you left empty end of the wrap over the filling ingredients, and then roll from one side, tucking the ingredients in tightly.
There is a little Vietnamese pho restaurant here in Ottawa that makes these greasy fried spring rolls that I dream about. The shell is paper thin, fried to crispness, encasing a mix of shrimp, veggies, and noodles. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed these bundles of naughty deliciousness more times than I can count. I always discarded the lettuce they are served upon, assuming it was garnish. But recently I learned it is intended to hold and transport the roll, dripping with oil and dipping sauce, cleanly from the plate to mouth. An added bonus – when the rolls are encased in something green, it’s easy to imagine they are much healthier than the reality.
Well, the lettuce wraps I’m going to share with you today, actually are very healthy, and offer a satisfying mix of textures and flavours: spicy chickpeas, a dente brown rice, creamy avocado and a drizzle of lemony yogurt pulled together in a crunchy lettuce leaf.
It uses my favourite versatile and freezer friendly vegetarian filling – curried chickpeas. If you have some on hand, and also keep some brown rice ready to go in your freezer, these can be on the table in under 10 minutes.
Because the chickpea filling is just as delicious at room temperature, they would also be great to bring to a picnic and assemble on the spot.
For a vegan version trying replacing the yogurt with tahini or cashew cream
Vegetarian Curried Chickpea Lettuce Wraps
Spicy chickpeas, a dente rice, creamy avocado, and lemony sumac yogurt all encased in a crunchy lettuce leaf.
10minutes (if chickpeas and rice prepared in advance)
To make the sumac and yogurt sauce: Mix the first four ingredients together. Taste and then add additional sumac, lemon juice and salt and pepper as desired.
To assemble: Lay out your leaves. Put a few spoonfuls of brown rice along the length. Spoon over 1/4 cup of the chickpeas mixture, add a slice of the avocado alongside and then top with a generous drizzle of the sumac and yogurt sauce.
This curried chickpea filling is my answer to quick, satisfying and freezer friendly vegetarian meals. It is warming, with varying textures of mashed and whole chickpeas interspersed with veggies, and seasoned with spices that are interesting, but not overpowering.
And it is just so versatile. You can whip up a big batch, freeze it in 1 cup portions, and then user it in so many ways – without a lot of flavour repeats. Try spooning it into a lettuce wrap, topping a plate of soba noodles, filling a sandwich, spreading between a tostado and poached eggs, or adding some raisins for this moroccan sweet potato and couscous bowl. It’s great at room temperature so an tasty addition to packed lunches and picnics.
It comes from the acclaimed Toronto vegetarian restaurant Fresh. When we lived in Toronto we dined at Fresh weekly, often enjoying this filling in their Indian Dosas and Energy Bowl. Now that Fresh is a five hour drive away from us, I’m grateful for my Juice for Life cookbook by Fresh Founder Ruth Tal Brown that contains the recipe for the curried chickpea filling (adapted slightly), as well as many other menu staples.
Here are some of the quick, delicious and healthy meals you can make using this filling:
Vegan Curried Chickpea Filling
This curried chickpea filling is satisfying, freezer friendly and so versatile - use it to fill sandwiches, as a salad or noodle bowl topped, for breakfast with poached eggs... the possibilities are endless.