Rhubarb isn’t for everyone. In fact, it seems that people either like it, or they don’t. There’s no middle ground. It is one of my favourite flavours in a dessert. We have a large patch of the hardy [some call it weed-like and impossible to kill, so-you-might-as-well-make-the-best-of-it] vegetable growing in our yard. Paired with a rich, creamy cheesecake, on a shortbread crust, the rhubarb adds a sweet, tart freshness that’s hard to achieve with any other filling. And, if you are a lover [or one of those waste-not-want-not-types-who-can’t-take-for-granted-the-stuff-growing-for-the-taking-on-your-property] of rhubarb, this is a must try, easy recipe.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 cups chopped rhubarb
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a bowl, combine 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup butter. Mix until crumbly and pat into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.
Mix together the rhubarb, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon flour. Pour onto crust. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a bowl, beat the cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time until combined and smooth. Pour over hot rhubarb in the pan.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven and set aside.
Combine sour cream, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix well and spread on top of cake while still hot.
Cool until room temperature, then chill before serving.
Individual Beef Wellingtons
The origin of the Beef Wellington is unclear. So as not to perpetuate any unsubstantiated theories, I will only impart from whence the idea was first introduced to me personally; by Chef Gordon Ramsay on Food Network Television. One thing that is clear, though this is a French recipe, Filet de Bœuf en Croûte, it seems to have been officially adopted [stolen and renamed] by the English. So, it makes sense that an English Chef [who did train in France for a few years, um hmm] features this traditional fare on more than a few of his many television series’ and episodes. Anyway, wherever it came from, I am a sucker for tender, rare beef. Wrapping anything in rich, buttery puff pastry can only serve to improve it’s contents in my opinion, let alone encapsulating a good cut of well seasoned meat. I broke from tradition and modified the ingredients to better suit my taste, forgoing pate and horseradish, and made individual wellingtons with tenderloin filets instead of a whole tenderloin roast. Despite the various steps and lavish finished appearance, they are quite simple to make. Beef Wellington is a perfect Fall [and Winter] dish; comfort food epitomized. The following is my version of Individual Beef Wellingtons and serves four. I paired mine with roasted garden yukon gold potatoes and maple candied carrots. You can serve horseradish on the side (traditionally, the meat is rubbed with it during assembly before baking). You could skip sides altogether, as I have never been able to finish a whole individual Wellington. It really could stand up as its own meal-in-one dish.
4 – 1.5” filet mignon steaks (adjust accordingly if making 2 or another quantity)
½ pound button mushrooms, cleaned and finely chopped, for duxelles (yep, that’s French)
1 to 2 clove(s) garlic, depending on your taste, crushed
1 package (or at least 8 sheets) prosciutto
Thyme (fresh chopped is preferred, but dried will suffice)
¼ cup good red wine (optional)
Puff Pastry Dough (home made or store bought (defrosted)
1 egg, beaten with splash of water
Bring steaks to room temperature. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and 2 tablespoons of butter together in a skillet until butter is melted. For the duxelles, add finely chopped mushrooms and cook over medium heat for approx. 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add crushed garlic, 1 teaspoon of thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cook for approx. 5 more minutes. Add red wine, stir, remove from heat and let cool. Drizzle steaks with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Rub the meat so it is evenly coated. Heat skillet over high heat. Add steaks to very hot pan and cook for 2 minutes each side (to sear/caramelize). Use tongs and sear the sides of each steak. If you like your meat rare, don’t cook for too long, but if you like it more well done, cook it for a few more minutes. If you cook it too long though, it will become too tough to slice the wellingtons nicely when packaged in delicate puff pastry. Once seared, remove from heat. Roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface until approx. 1/8” thickness. You will need approx. 6” x 6” rectangle for each steak. Once rolled out and sectioned, place 2 to 3 sheets of prosciutto so that they overlap, but don’t meet the edges of the puff pastry, in the center of the rectangle. Divide the duxelles (mushroom mixture) evenly so that you have an equal amount for each wellington. Spread this on the prosciutto so that it doesn’t quite meet the edges of the prosciutto. Place a filet mignon in that centre and pull the dough up and over the meat so it is wrapped tightly (be careful not to pull it too hard or it will tear). Tuck the ends together to seal it.
Turn the sealed end over (the bottom) and place it on a parchment lined backing pan. Repeat until all wellingtons are wrapped. Cut a small crisscross on the top of each for venting. Brush each wellington with egg wash.
Bake for approximately 15 to 25 minutes, or until puff pastry is fluffed and golden. Mine took just over 20 minutes, but ovens vary. Keep a close eye on them after the 10 minute mark and check frequently. When the puff pastry looks ready, remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with or without your desired side(s) and condiment(s).
Harvest Pear with Walnut and Honey Cream Cheese Tart
Try saying that five times fast. I couldn’t think of a shorter title that would capture the true essence of this sweet, luscious, perfect-for-fall [great for calorie loading in preparation for winter hibernation] cheesecake-y dessert recipe. If it wasn’t such a long title already, I would also add ‘easy’, as this recipe is extremely quick and simple. Unless, like me, you are a sucker for punishment and make the puff pastry, instead of buying it, the preparation and cooking time combined is only 40 minutes. In my opinion, if you can find a good quality frozen puff pastry, it will save you time and won’t compromise on taste. What ever pastry-path you take, the resulting tart is equally as good for dessert (add a small scoop of ice-cream or whipped cream, and maybe a drizzle of chocolate or caramel sauce) as it is for breakfast. [If you aren’t a pear lover, you could substitute apple and add a pinch of cinnamon and/or nutmeg.]
8 oz.cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
3 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 sheet puff pastry, cold
1 large egg
2 medium ripe pears
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tbsp liquid honey (I used a local, wildflower honey)
Preheat the oven to 400ºF and line baking sheet with parchment.
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, 2 tsp lemon juice and vanilla to the bowl, continuing to beat until smooth. Set aside.
Roll out puff pastry on a floured work surface until it is just slightly smaller than the border of your baking sheet. Place the puff pastry on the parchment lining of your baking sheet. Score the edges of the puff pastry to make a 1/2-inch border on all sides.
In a bowl, whisk together the egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the puff pastry all over with the egg wash. Spread the cream cheese mixture in the centre of the puff pastry.
Wash pears, slice tops and bottoms off, quarter them and slice off the core corners. Leave the skin on and thinly slice your quarters (approximately 1/8″ to 1/16″ thickness). Add pear slices to a bowl. Toss in chopped walnuts, 1 tsp lemon juice, one pinch of sea salt and honey. Toss until all is mixed and well coated. Array the pear slices as desired over the cream cheese, then sprinkle the walnuts and remaining liquid evenly over top.
Bake the tart for approximately 20 minutes, or until the cream cheese is golden and puffed. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Cut as desired and serve.
Beet, Pear & Walnut Salad
Salads are really easy to make. You can pretty much combine anything you like. Within reason of course. I don’t share this is a ‘recipe’ because I don’t think you can figure out how to incorporate the ingredients listed on your own. I share this as I have made salads using this combination of ingredients several times and have found that this is the best tasting method of preparation; in my opinion. You may in fact have an even better version. If so, please do share. In any case, the following directions are shown if you would like to try out my version. This salad can be made as a side dish, as it is shown here, accompanied by maple grilled wild salmon and pesto spiral pasta, but can very easily hold up on its own as a meal.
Ingredients (makes 4 side salads or 2 meal sized salads)
1 cup of sliced red beets, peeled and already cooked tender
1 pear, quartered, cored and each quarter cut into 4 slices (you end up 16 equal sized slices)
1/2 cup unsalted walnut pieces
3-4 cups of salad greens (I used a baby spinach and rocket – arugula – mixture)
1/4 cup of crumbled goat cheese
2 tsps. butter
1 tsp. maple syrup
salt & pepper to taste
vinaigrette dressing of choice (I used a simple balsamic)
Melt 1 tsp. butter in a small saucepan. Add walnuts and stir until coated. Toast lightly for a few minutes at medium heat. Be careful not to burn the nuts. Add pear slices and stir until coated with butter. Keep stirring while cooking until the pears are slightly tender, but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
Add the remaining 1 tsp. butter to the same pan and melt. Add sliced beets, maple syrup, salt and pepper to taste. Saute until slight caramelization of beets occurs, approximately 5 minutes at medium heat. Transfer to a separate bowl to cool (otherwise, the pears and walnuts will turn pink, which is fine too, if that’s the look you are going for).
When the beets, pears and walnuts have cooled to room temperature, which only takes 5-10 minutes, assemble your salad. Loosely stack your greens on a plate or in a bowl. Divide your warm ingredients equally, on top of the greens. Sprinkle the crumbled goat cheese on top.
Drizzle with your vinaigrette of choice.