Comforting Home Food…Rhubarb Crisp

Dessert pudding wasn’t an every day affair in our house growing up, but when it made an appearance, it was usually something to celebrate.  Mum might make her famous “Hurry-Up Chocolate Cake”, lemon freeze, five-star peach pie, or a fruit crisp.  Mum has a serious arsenal of delicious desserts she can pull out and put together like it was nothing.  I aspire to get to that kind of culinary organization one day!

Fruit crisps are probably my favourite dessert.  They’re simple, warm and right now, remind me of home!  They can be made with whatever fruit you have on hand and instantly fill your kitchen with the delicious smell of cinnamon, fruit and sugar.  Apples, strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, plums, apricots…they can all go in to create a flavourful dessert.

Rhubarb is, for me, the first sign of spring.  Living in Toronto I had a small patch of rhubarb in our garden, but this was nothing compared to the patch my parents had at the farm.  It was huge.  It would start to peek through the ground in March or April and as soon as it was ready to be picked, it would find its way into a rhubarb crisp.  Rhubarb is the first of many fruits (technically rhubarb is a vegetable) to come in the Spring and Summer.  Rhubarb is just good news.

There was rhubarb at the market this week and given the cold (6-9 degrees with rain) weather, I had to snatch it up and turn it into a rhubarb crisp.

Rhubarb at home is typically green...this rhubarb is red!

No need to arrange the apples like this...I was just practicing

Look at all that Rhubarb Goodness

This is a half batch of the topping...Also, I had no oatmeal and used muesli instead...hence the raisins

Ready for dessert

Rhubarb (or any other fruit) Crisp – based on my mum’s recipe

fruit – enough to fill a desired container

Topping
1 c Whole Wheat Flour
1 c Brown Sugar
1 c Oatmeal
1/4 c butter

Combine the flour, sugar, and oatmeal.  Using a pastry cutter (or a food processor) cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse oatmeal.   Fill the desired container with fruit.  Top with the topping.  Take a couple of table spoons of butter, break it up and drop it over the topping (this is in addition to the 1/4 c of butter above).  Bake for 30-45 minutes in an oven preheated to 325 until the fruit is soft and the topping brown.

Enjoy hot with ice cream!

Note – the topping can be increased or decreased based on the size of your container.  I don’t add sugar to the fruit as I like the flavour without.  You can also add cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger or just about any other flavour to the topping to spice things up a little!

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Chamonix

Last week we got back from our first (but not last) ski trip in Europe.

We went to Chamonix in eastern France – home of Mont Blanc (tallest mountain in Europe) and the first Olympic winter games.  Our pictures are brilliant; the resort was great; the food was good; the beer expensive; and the hotel merely OK.

Lighter Fare

After four days of serious French food (bread, cheese, pastry, repeat) I decided that we needed to take a bit of a break and try something a little lighter.  Ottolenghi it is.  Yotam Ottolenghi is the patron and chef of Ottolenghi, a fabulous restaurant in our neighbourhood.  The desserts in the windows are amazing.  They make a great takeaway treat to be enjoyed at home after a nice dinner out…or long day at work…or…well, I can think of any number of reasons.  They make a delicious passionfruit tart which regularly makes an appearance at our table.  We’ve also gone there for breakfast a couple of times and will likely go again.

At our last breakfast we (mr416expat) had scrambled eggs and salmon and (mrs416expat) sweet corn pancakes with guacamole and bacon.  It was a great meal that I’ve since recreated at home.  Delicious!

Delicious!

Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Eggs

Sweet Corn and Green Onion Pancakes with Guacamole and Bacon

Yotam Ottolenghi also writes a column in the Guardian, a Left-Wing equivalent of the Globe and Mail.  Week after week he serves up unique recipes but they are consistently good.  His columns are my go-to-source for healthier recipes with serious flavour.  This week’s column was no exception, spiced chickpeas with a fresh vegetable salad. This recipe is a great opportunity to practice your knife skills!   There’s a lot of dicing required and that makes for good practice.

Fresh vegetables diced

Add herbs and dressing

Quickly cook up some seasoned chickpeas

 

And serve

 

Spiced Chickpeas with a Fresh Vegetable Salad – adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe in the Guardian

1 can chickpeas
2 cucumbers
2 tomatoes
1 small red onion, peeled
240 g radishes
2 red peppers, seeds and pith removed
20 g coriander leaves and stems
15 g flat-leaf parsley
120ml olive oil
2 lemons, zest grated, juiced
30 ml red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
1 tsp coriander seeds, ground
1 tsp cumin seeds, ground
1 tsp cinnamon

In a sealable container, mix together 75ml olive oil, lemon juice, zest, vinegar, smashed garlic clove, sugar, salt and pepper.  Shake to combine and set aside to allow the flavours to blend.

Chop the cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, radishes, and red pepper into a 1cm dice.  Combine in a bowl.  Chop the coriander and parsley, adding them to the vegetables.  Shake the dressing again, and lightly dress the vegetables to taste.

Combine the coriander, cumin and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl.  Drain and rinse the chickpeas.  Toss the chickpeas in the spice mix.  Heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat lightly frying the chickpeas for two to three minutes, stirring frequently.

Divide the salad amongst the plates and serve with the warmed chickpeas on top.

Headed to the Alps

Food Options in Chamonix, France

Mr 416expat and I have just gotten back from a really awesome ski vacation in the French Alps.  I never actually ever thought I would say that!  Regardless, it was an amazing trip and Mr 416expat will be posting lots of pictures soon.

While in Chamonix, we had the opportunity to try out a couple of different restaurants. I can honestly say we really lucked out.  The restaurants were all really good, but for wildly different reasons.

L’Impossible was our first stop and my favourite.  The restaurant itself was in a restored farmhouse.  It was really cosy inside!  We ate dinner there on Sunday night and each had really interesting meals.  The restaurant itself was in a restored farmhouse.  It was really cosy inside!  They started us with a delicious appetizer of warmed hummus with olive oil and tiny bread balls.  The bread balls were about the size of a small marble and seasoned with sea salt.  They were delicious!  This was followed by a roast pumpkin and apple soup and an interesting salad of broccoli, onion, and ricotta cheese.  I think I’ll work on recreating this one!  For our mains we enjoyed an oxtail ragu with an in house pasta as well as rabbit.  This was my first time trying rabbit and it was good.  I found it very hard to get past the cute bunny factor though.  Our dessert was a chocolate mousse that we shared (and devoured before a picture could be taken).  The meal ended with tea and coffee and an assortment of tasty cookies.  Definitely an excellent evening out!

Roast pumpkin and apple soup

Broccoli, Onion, and Ricotta Cheese Salad

Bacon-wrapped Rabbit with Polenta and Root Vegetables

Ox-Tail Ragu with Homemade Pasta

Chocolate Mousse - Or what's left of Chocolate Mouse

Treats to accompany our tea and coffee

The service at L’Impossible was amazing.  Our wine glass was never empty and we were left to enjoy our meal together.  I would recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for a quiet and intimate restaurant with amazing food.  Yum!