Every year about this time, rhubarb rolls back into our consciousness and the urge to enjoy that tart, earthy flavor before it fades seizes me. Rhubarb begins to pop up on seasonal menus; Sunset starts to feature it heavily; and recipes pop up on Foodgawker every other minute with enough pies, cakes, and compotes to make a girl swoon. Usually appearing in your store or local market in early spring, the powerfully tart stalks range in appearance from pale green to a lovely crimson. I don’t notice a strong difference in flavor between shades along this gradient (and the internet will back me up on that, so it’s not just my weird palate); however, the two can be linked when it’s a question of separate varieties (whether you’ve gotten your hands on picturesque Sunset, romantic Timperley Early, blunt Redstick, etc.). In the case that you’re trying to impress someone, go ahead and hunt down the reddest stalks you can find. If flavor is all that matters, take your rhubarb as it comes. (more…)
Themed parties are an opportunity to gather all your favorite like-minded friends to your bosom; themed potlucks allow you to sample from the culinary skills and creativity of these charming people. As an added bonus, the latter requires even less effort on the part of the host, who then has time to turn her considerable decorating abilities to crafting, say, a magical feast. These events also provide an excuse to throw a morning’s effort into an extravagant recipe, something with a little bang but scalable for a large crowd. When we began planning a contribution for April’s Harry Potter Book Club meeting (Prisoner of Azkaban, my personal favorite, for all of you Potter aficionados out there) we decided it was time to pull out all the stops and go sugary. (more…)
Every trip to Berkeley Bowl starts with a grocery list and ends with a shopping cart full of unexpected treats. Wandering the aisles aimlessly gets you thinking of the next meal you’re going to make, and the one after that, and the one after that, and suddenly you’re buying rhubarb and strawberries and running home to make this heavenly dessert.
As we face the slow march through the end of winter or, perhaps more appropriately, the long stretch of Lent, we need something substantial to fortify us until the dawning of spring (or the arrival of Easter). Although the religious origins of Mardi Gras – or Shrove Tuesday, as it is known to the more devout among us – are often overlooked in our progressive enclave, the urge to indulge ahead of the privations of Lent can still be understood and appreciated by those who live for good food and general merriment. Mardi Gras is related to the raucous festivities of Carnival: a final send-off to the more pleasurable and potentially sinful pursuits before a time of denial and repentance. (more…)