26 May 2015

Rhubarb Tarte Tatin

Much to my joy, one of the rhubarbs in the garden is blossoming once more. I've managed to give away a few more of the plants and am now down to five, which are still way more than Lundulph and I can manage in a year. Which is why I only harvest them every other year, meaning they get a full season to recover. I also don't force them to sprout earlier than they want to. This year I had several particularly thick and long stalks, so I decided to try out an idea I had last year - rhubarb tarte tatin, but where I'd create woven decoration from the rhubarbs themselves.


The recipe I used is Mary Berry's from the Great British Bake Off Season 3. I've done it before, because I've marked it as such. Shockingly I've managed to miss blogging about this at the time. I remember making it, as we took it as a gift to a friend's party and I'd been very successful with the caramel. That time I used apples, but this time it would be rhubarbs. Also I'm using a baking dish which is almost 30 cm in diameter.


200 g plain flour
50 g frozen butter
25 g frozen lard
5 tbsp cold water

175 g granulated sugar
6 tbsp water

10 thick rhubarb stalks at least as long as the diameter of the baking dish

75 g caster sugar
5 tbsp water or juices from the tarte tatin


  1. Measure up the flour in a bowl, then grate the frozen butter and lard and using a knife stir together to coat the fat.
  2. Add the water and carefully mix together to a stiff dough.
  3. Roll out to a rectangle, then fold the top third onto the middle and then fold the bottom third over that.
  4. Turn 90 ° and roll out again to a rectangle, then fold like before. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to chill for 20 - 30 minutes.
  5. Repeat the rolling and chilling once or twice more, depending on how much time you have.
  6. Trim and wash the rhubarbs, then using a potato peeler or a mandolin slicer, cut strips from the rhubarb, starting with the two narrow sides, then the two wider ones. Set the remaining core to one side.
  7. On a piece of baking paper or cling film, place half of the strips alongside each other with the cut side down.
  8. Using the remaining strips one at a time and keeping it cut side down, weave into the lined up strips.
  9. Continue until the woven area is large enough to fit in the bottom of the baking tin.
  10. Dice the left-over rhubarb cores.
  11. Pre-heat the oven to 220 °C (not fan assisted!)
  12. Now heat up the granulated sugar and water in a thick-bottomed pan on medium heat. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved completely, then remove the spoon, turn up the heat to high and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat once the caramel starts turning golden and pour into the baking dish, making sure the bottom is covered completely. If the sugar starts browning unevenly, shake the pan a little to make the sugar move around and brown more evenly, but do not stir.
  13. Carefully flip over the woven rhubarbs over the caramel and press down. Trim the edges if they are sticking up around the sides.
  14. Now add the diced rhubarb and also dice and add the trimmings.
  15. Roll out the dough to a circular shape, slightly larger than the baking dish. Transfer over the rhubarbs and tuck in the edges all around.
  16. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the crust goes golden and looks crispy.
  17. When the tarte tatin comes out of the oven, carefully drain the juices into another saucepan. If there are no juices, use water instead.
  18. Add the caster sugar and stir together over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid starts bubbling. Remove from the heat.
  19. Carefully flip out the tarte tatin onto a serving plate and the woven rhubarb pattern should be revealed. Brush with the sugar syrup, or even drizzle over the pie.
  20. Serve warm.

Even though my rhubarbs aren't very tart, the overall result of the tarte tatin required more sugar, so the syrup was enough for two servings Lundulph and I had earlier today. Perhaps next time I should squeeze in some golden syrup or the like before covering with the pastry.


Still, it worked out splendidly and very much like I'd imagined it. My only worry was that the woven strips would go mushy like rhubarb tends to sometimes, but using the outer parts of the stalks with the skin more or less intact seems to have allowed them to keep their shape.


We also had other plans yesterday, and I got a late start to the baking, which is why I only did 2+2 folds with one chilling in between. And I also had to interrupt the baking about half-way through as we had to leave for our appointments and I didn't want to leave the oven on. I finished baking when I came back and this worked fine - I'd left the pie in the oven and just switched it on, so I guess it got a bit longer bake than 40 minutes, but this didn't have any negative effect at all. I also didn't flip it out after baking, but only this morning. This meant that the pie had got stuck to the baking dish and I had to heat the bottom up on the hob for a few minutes to loosen it up a bit. It flipped out rather nicely onto the plate.

7 May 2015

Szechuan Asparagus

Finally it's May and asparagus season has started. I went to my local PYO armed with my mushroom knife and a silly smile on my face. Apparently I wasn't the only one, there were quite a few other enthusiasts already there, but there was plenty to go round and I picked enough to last us a week or so.
And I had another recipe lined up from my YouTube sessions - Szechuan Green Beans. Watching the video made me think that the recipe would work just as well with asparagus. However, I forgot to get salad onions required for this recipe and I had no onion in the house, so I skipped it. It still turned out quite nice.


1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water
285 g thin green asparagus, trimmed and washed
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp chilli sauce
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp granulated sugar
3 tbsp soy sauce
chilli flakes (optional)


  1. Heat up a pan and briefly toast the sesame seeds, stirring constantly, until they start popping, then remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Stir the corn starch into the water and set aside.
  3. Then heat up the grapeseed oil and fry the asparagus until it caramelises here and there, about 15 minutes. Remove to a side dish.
  4. In the same pan, heat up the toasted sesame oil and add the ginger and garlic and fry for a minute or so, stirring vigorously.
  5. Add the chilli sauce, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce and chilli flakes and stir through, then give the dissolved cornstarch a quick stir and pour into the pan, then return the asparagus and stir to get it well coated.
  6. Serve warm.

Now the recipe was for a pound of green beans, i. e. about half a kilo. My asparagus was just over half of that and the result was quite a lot of sauce to go round, so next time I'll definitely aim for the half a kilo mark. It'll also probably make the asparagus look more attractive.

I was also suprised that the sauce first appeared to be so thick - of course the cornstarch did do this, but I expected it to be a bit runnier.

Finally, I wasn't quite sure what sort of chilli sauce to use - in the YouTube video it appeared to be the sweet chilli sauce, but that has no heat at all almost and I thought it can't be right as sugar is added as well. So I used the Korean chilli paste/thick sauce I bought for my dolsot bibimbap recipes. And I added some really hot chilli flakes just to be on the safe side.

Overall I'm very pleased with the result and Lundulph and I gobbled them up pretty quickly. However, for the remaining asparagus, we'll go back to boiling them, as it's possibly a bit healthier...

5 May 2015


After Easter, I've realised that my clothes have gotten a bit tight and so I've decided to reduce my calorie intake. Of course this doesn't ring well with my previous two posts on ice cream and Rice Krispie treats. In fact, I have a nasty feeling that it's an unconscious reaction to dieting - I go into an overdrive of baking...

But I had a gander at the itrim website. This is a Swedish company who have been very successful in helping people lose weight and change habits for the better and they also have some of their recipes online. I thought this one seemed particularly appealing. I've put their cookbooks on my wishlist for the Swedish side of the family.

Fröknäcke translates to seed crispbread and the cooking instructions weren't quite correct, below what worked for me.


60 g golden linseed
65 g pumpkin seeds
30 g sesame seeds
50 g porridge oats
25 g chia seeds
¼ tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 ½ dl water


  1. Stir together all the ingredients and place in the fridge to soak overnight.

  2. Pre-heat the oven to 130 ° C fan and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  3. Divide up the "dough" into two and place each half on a tray, then gently spread it as thinly as possible.
  4. Bake for 1 h, then remove from the oven and carefully cut it into pieces, then return to the oven, turn it off and leave the crispbread to dry out further as the oven cools down further.
  5. Store in an air-tight container.

The original instruction stated either chia seeds or poppy seeds. Now I've done chia seed dessert and I know that chia seeds do swell quite a bit and release some sort of gelatine-like substance around them. I haven't soaked poppy seeds, but I have a suspicion that they don't behave in the same way and as there was very little in the ingredients list to provide "binding", I opted for the chia seeds.

The other thing I completely missed was that I needed rolled buckwheat. Annoying as I took Lundulph to the health food shop to show him around and didn't get this ingredient, so instead I used some of the porridge oats I normally use for my müsli.

The last thing that I had to change was the baking time - the original recipe stated 15 minutes, at which point my bake was pretty moist still, so I have it another 15 minutes, and then another and then another. And because I very rarely utilise the residual heat of the oven, I completely forgot the two trays in there until it was almost bed time.

Lundulph's comment was that it was a bit on the salty side and I agree, so I've halved the amount in the ingredients list above.

4 May 2015

Rice Krispies Treats

I have come to realised that YouTube is a lot more "dangerous" than Wikipedia, when it comes to clicking around and losing several hours by watching fascinating videos. Following on from the ice cream discovery the other day, I came across a very talented lady from Canada, who has so many inspiring videos, it's hard to decide what to try first and I've once again ended up with loads of browser tabs open, so that I don't forget the wonderful creations she does. The easiest one was watermelon shaped Rice Krispies treats, they were so pretty and seemed so simple to do, I decided to try them first. Besides I had marshmallows in the larder already, originally intended for popcorn balls. I translated the amounts to metric. I'm beginning to think that my Sister Bip did the right thing in buying herself a set of American measures, to make it easier to do recipes she finds on American websites. Perhaps I should get a set? But it just doesn't feel right, having grown up in a metric environment. I'll try to hold off for a little longer. Besides, in converting the amounts, I noticed that an American cup is not the same as a Canadian cup and it's a good thing read the "about me" section and used the Canadian cup measure.

I was also not able to find Kool-Aid powder in my neighbourhood, so instead I purchased Robinsons Squashd instead, it seemed to be along the right lines.

I strongly recommend watching the video before doing the recipe here.


510 g marshmallows
16 dl Rice Krispies
106 g unsalted butter
Robinsons Squashd Citrus
Robinsons Squashd Summer Fruit
green food colouring paste
red food colouring paste
tiny chocolate buttons
butter for greasing pan, fingers and spatulas


  1. Grease a round springform cake pan, about 23 cm in diameter (9 inches).
  2. Weigh up 141 g of marshmallows and place in a large glass bowl, then add 28 g of butter.

  3. Place in the microwave and whizz on high for 1 - 1.5 minutes, depending on how powerful your microwave oven is. Watch the marshmallows as they balloon and stop once they have all puffed up and the butter has melted, then remove from them microwave oven.

  4. Add 1 - 2 short squirts of the citrus flavouring and some green food colouring paste to the melted marshmallow mixture and stir through until well combined and you're happy with the colour.
  5. Now add 4.5 dl of Rice Krispies to the mixture and stir until all are well coated in the green goo. It will get very sticky, so be careful.
  6. Once all is coated, transfer to the greased cake pan, making sure to arrange it along the sides.
  7. Now grease up your hands with butter and carefully and gently push the green mixture against the walls of the pan, making sure that it's level thickness and height all around.
  8. Next wash out the glass bowl and the utensils well and dry them.
  9. Measure up 85 g of marshmallows and place in the glass bowl together with 21 g of butter.
  10. Whiz in the microwave as before, it should require slightly shorter time.
  11. Stir together and then add the Rice Krispies and stir them in to get them coated.
  12. Grease up your hands with butter, then transfer the white mixture into the pan, along the green mixture and again press it into the green.

  13. Now add the final 284 g of marshmallows to the glass bowl along with 57 g butter and melt in the microwave.
  14. Once puffed up, add 6 - 7 short squirts of the summer fruit flavouring and some red food colouring paste and stir through until well combined and you're happy with the colour.
  15. Add the remaining 8 dl of Rice Krispies and stir in to coat them completely, then transfer some of it to the pan and using a greased spatula or your greased fingers press down firmly. Repeat in a couple of more steps, to ensure that there are no air pockets anywhere. Make sure the pink/red part is on the same level as the other two.
  16. Now press in a few chocolate buttons in the pink/red part randomly - these will be the watermelon seeds.
  17. Allow to cool completely, then place in the fridge overnight to firm up.

  18. The next day, remove from the pan and cut into wedges and push a lollipop stick through the wide part of each wedge.

As I said, the melted marshmallows form a very sticky substance and I had to constantly grease my fingers to work it. I ended up cutting off a small piece of butter and using it as if it were soap. And as I kept getting bits stuck to my fingers, I ended up eating some of it and boy was it tasty! What was surprising was that it didn't go completely solid, even after a night in the fridge, but the surface dried and it stopped being sticky.

However, the proportions between green, white and pink/red were still not quite good, the white needs to be reduced and the green increased. And I did end up with some spare of the pink/red mixture which I formed into a patty and cut into squares once it had set. I also didn't have the right sized cake pan, so I used my extendible cake ring, which isn't as solid as might be useful for this particular use. I placed it onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and only greased the cake ring. So I ended up with some strips of green where it had landed before I pushed it all to the sides.

Finally the pieces ended up a bit bigger than I expected them, not that it stopped me and Lundulph from eating a whole piece each. We could probably have had seconds. But I think it would work better as bite-sized cubes for day-to-day purposes.

Lundulph's comment was that they were very nice and that basically anything that will stick Rice Krispies together is a good thing. The ballooning of the marshmallows was quite interesting to watch, it might well be worth microwaving a few just to watch that and they are quite edible afterwards too.