Buttermilk Fried Endives with Gremolata


I am anxious about deep frying. More specifically, I am anxious about scalding myself with hot oil. I have never done it. Well, not to a staggering degree anyways, but I do fret about it whenever more than a splash of oil goes into a pan. It seems to be inviting injury or other kitchen disasters like, you know, fire. So I am usually happy to just leave the frying to the professionals. I’ll saute, I’ll roast, I’ll braise, I’ll grill like a mofo, but I’d rather not deep fry.

But then I see something like the recipe for Alice Waters’ Buttermilk Fried Endives and I know that if I go to my corner burger place, they aren’t going to make those for me. If I want to try those (and ho boy did I want to try those), I’m going to have to suck it up and make them myself. I found some pretty endives at the store and took the plunge.

Luckily, this recipe couldn’t be simpler. Cut the endives into wedges, season with salt and pepper, dip them in buttermilk and then dredge them in flour. Fry them up and eat.

So, hang on, I am basically talking about deep frying lettuce here? Yes. Yes, I am. If Alice Waters says you can do it, then you can do it. It sounds a little weird, but there is something about the eating of them that is super satisfying. They taste incredibly light for a fried thing. You almost believe you are eating something healthy. Almost. I find that they pair nicely with fish, like simple roasted tilapia or grilled sole.

You can serve them simply with some lemon wedges and just squeeze lemon juice on them or sprinkle some fresh herbs over them (which is how they are pictured above) but they also pair really well with Gremolata, which is something you should add to your recipe index even if you have no interest in the fried endives. Gremolata is a bunch of herbs and two different fruit zests (lemon and orange) combined with olive oil and left to sit for at least half an hour. You can use it accent dishes but my most common use for it is to use it to coat root vegetables (potatoes, cauliflower, parnsips, etc.) and then roast them. You get the most flavorful and succulent vegetables this way.

Buttermilk Fried Endives with Gremolata
(adapted from Alice Waters)

4 Belgian endives, cut into wedges
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups flour
Oil for frying
Lemon wedges or Gremolata (see recipe below)

Set buttermilk in one bowl and flour in another.

Season the endives with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil to 350 degrees in a heavy bottomed pot. (If you don’t have a thermometer to gauge the temperature, I know a great trick here. Put a single kernel of popcorn in the oil. When it pops, your oil is at the right temperature. Use a slotted spoon to retrieve the popcorn kernel, eat it and start your frying!)

Dredge the endives in the buttermilk and drain. Then dredge in the flour and shake off any excess.

Fry the wedges in the oil until golden brown, two to three minutes. Set on paper towels to drain. If using gremolata, drizzle it over the wedges just before serving.


1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Whisk together all ingredients in a bowl and let sit for at least 30 minutes. (I usually do it in a pyrex measuring cup because it makes pouring it onto stuff easier.)

Lamb Kofta


I have been working on this recipe for a few weeks, which has meant that I have had outstanding leftovers in my fridge all the time. This lamb keeps so well. It tastes great cold from the fridge with nothing at all, but my neighborhood grocery store (shoutout to Morse Market in Rogers Park!) sells package of naan (Indian style flatbread) and my favorite way to eat this lamb is to take a piece of naan spreading some pesto and caramelized onion on it and then crumbling some of this lamb around and sticking it under the broiler for a few minutes. When it comes out, I sprinkle some pomegranate seeds and fresh parsley on top. (That’s how I take my leftovers. Seriously.)

There is not just one kind of Lamb Kofta. Kofta is a dish that can be found in a multitude of middle eastern and asian cuisines so you can go a lot of different ways with it. I myself have settled on two separate spice profiles, one that tilts toward South Asian and one more towards Turkish, both of which is mighty tasty and very different. I am giving you the first one. The second one is going to stay a secret. (And since it is more Turkish leaning, I think that one should be called Kofte and not Kofta. Why that one letter difference? I don’t know. If anyone does know, please educate me.)

This technique comes from The Guardian, a British publication with a really solid food section. Ottolenghi publishes a regular recipe column with them and the specific article with this recipe references his version of this dish. The basic technique here skips breadcrumbs and focuses on onion to bind the meat together. However, the onion is essentially ground to mush and then has all the water pressed out of it in a sieve to cut down on the onion flavor in the finished dish. You add a few fresh herbs and a few jarred spices as well as some ground pine nuts. Everything gets mixed together and rests in the fridge. I like to rest it overnight, but an hour is enough time to meld all the flavors.

There are three ways to cook the meatballs — you can grill them (the best way), you can pan fry them (very tasty but messy and never a fun activity in the summer), or you can stick them under the broiler for ten minutes (which works fine though you never get the even brown crust on the meat). When I grill or pan fry, I shape them into little logs. If I am sticking them under the broiler, I form small round balls.

If you cannot find ground lamb or just prefer to grind your own, you should use the shoulder cut of the lamb. And if you are grinding your own lamb, we should be friends.

Lamb Kofta
(Adapted from The Guardian)

3/4 pound of ground lamb
1 small white onion or half of a large onion, grated or processed
2 tablespoons pine nuts, ground or finely chopped
1 tablespoon parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon mint leaves, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper

Make the onion and spice mixture and then add the lamb.

There are two ways to do the onion — if you have a food processor, use that to grind the onion into a mashy pulp. (I have a small one and I use it first to grind the pine nuts then I do the onion.) If you do not have a food processor, get out your box grater and use the large grates for the same result. Then put the onion into a fine mesh strainer. (If you do not have a fine mesh one, use a normal strainer lined with a little cheesecloth.) Press on the onion until all the water is squeezed out. (Then press it one more time. There is more water in there than you think there is.) Put the onion in a bowl and add the pine nuts, herbs and spices. Mix them together until the onion is evenly coated with spices. Then add the lamb and mix it all together. When dealing with meat, the less that the meat is touched by hands the better so mix it with a spoon. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour and up to 8 hours.

Take the meat out of the fridge. Form the meat into small logs or balls. Here are the three cooking techniques.

Grilling: Lightly oil either the grate or the meat. (I never have much luck with oiling the grate so I lightly oil the meat.) Grill the meat over high heat for six to eight minutes depending on size, turning halfway through cooking so that the meat evenly browns. You want the meat to reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees for medium rare.

Pan fry: Heat two tablespoons of oil (canola or olive oil) in a frying pan. Cook the meat three to four minutes on each side until nicely browned. (Though I always end up rolling them around at the end to get more even browning.) Set on paper towels to drain.

Broiler: Pre-heat the broiler on high and line the meatballs up in a pyrex dish. Cook for ten to twelve minutes, turning halfway through cooking.


Conchiglie with Yogurt, Peas and Pine Nuts


Summer can be challenging for a cook. There are lots of light and refreshing salads to make but when you want a more substantial meal, you also want to find a way to make it without turning your oven on if at all possible. I discovered this recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook and thought it sounded sort of disgusting. Pasta with a lukewarm yogurt sauce? Um, maybe? I should know by now to just trust Ottolenghi.

The pasta used here is conchiglie. Conchiglie is shell pasta. (I could have just called the recipe Shell Pasta with etc. but I learned to both spell and pronounce conchiglie so we’re sticking with that.) Conchiglie is a great pasta to pair with peas and pine nuts because they are small enough to snuggle into the pasta. Ever try eating spaghetti with peas? You are basically alternating mouthfuls of pasta and peas because you cannot get them on the same fork. No such problem here.

The sauce is incredibly easy to make. You combine yogurt, olive oil, peas and garlic in a food processor and blend until smooth. You cook your pasta, throwing the peas in during the last minute to cook them. While the pasta is going, you heat olive oil in a saucepan and add chile pepper of choice with the pine nuts to toast and spice them up. Then you slowly add your cooked pasta and peas to the yogurt sauce. The spicy pine nuts get added at the end along with some fresh dill and crumbed feta. That’s it. Ottolenghi used fresh basil. I did not have any and I quite like the pairing of peas and dill so I swapped that out. He said to use any Turkish or Syrian chile flakes and I chose aleppo flakes.

Also, this is a great recipe for people who are supposed to watch their salt. Other than salting the pasta water, there is no salt added to this dish. Skip the feta at the end to lower the overall salt even more.

The sauce is creamy and delicious, plus you get a little bit of kick from the pine nuts. Perfect for a hot day. As usual, I have modified the recipe to make a single person serving, exactly one bowl of pasta. You can multiply the recipe to feed more people.

Conchiglie with Yogurt, Peas and Pine Nuts
(Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem)

1 cup of conchiglie pasta shells
1/3 cup of fresh or frozen green peas plus one tablespoon, separated
2 tablespoons olive oil, separated
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon aleppo chile flakes (depending on heat preference)
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1/2 clove of garlic (or 1/4 teaspoon jarred minced garlic)
1 tablespoon fresh dill
1 tablespoon crumbled feta

Cook the pasta in well salted boiling water.

While the pasta is cooking, heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a small saucepan. When it is shimmering*, add the pine nuts and chile flakes and cook over medium heat until the nuts have browned and the oil is a deep red. Then set aside to cool.

In a food processor, combine remaining tablespoon of olive oil, one tablespoon of peas, and garlic. Puree until smooth and nicely green in color. (You may have a few chunks of pea in there. It will not hurt anything.)

Pour the sauce into a bowl and wait for the pasta to finish cooking. When the pasta has about one minute of cooking time left, add the rest of the peas to the pot. Strain the cooked pasta and peas. Add them SLOWLY to the bowl with the sauce. Too quickly and you add too much heat to fast and the sauce will separate. Mix it all together. Add the dill and feta and then sprinkle the pine nuts on top. (For even more heat, drizzle the oil from the pine nut saucepan too.)


* Instructions always say to wait until the oil shimmers. I find this instruction to be a bit difficult to follow depending on the lighting in the kitchen. Rather than “shimmers”, I would suggest “slithers”. Room temperature oil moves at a slow slide, but once oil has been heated, it moves much quicker. If you pick up the pan and tilt it back and forth, you can see how the oil moves around. When it starts snaking, you’re home.

Braised Eggs with Leeks and Spinach


This recipe is the primary reason that I started keeping preserved lemons and za’atar stocked in my kitchen at all times. Both ingredients get used for other things, but the discovery of this is what made them permanent fixtures of the household.

I found this recipe on The Guardian website, where Ottolenghi regularly publishes a column devoted to a single ingredient. This was an eggs column. (And I am still itching to try the Eggs with Chickpeas, Tomato, and Pernod from that column. I just need to get my hands on some Pernod.)

Now, I have made a few tweaks here and there and cut down on the size of the recipe. You can crack two eggs into it instead of one and feed two people (or one really hungry person). It comes together pretty quickly. Like many Ottolenghi recipes, there are steps that seem overly fussy on the first read. Do I really need to toast and crush my own cumin seeds? Is that really worth it? Yes. Yes, it is. Is there really a difference between preserved lemon and just a regular lemon? Good grief, yes, yes there is. Does it have to be za’atar? YES.

Preserved lemon seems like a weird thing to have in your kitchen until you have it in your kitchen and then you will always find dishes to throw it in. I have heard them described elsewhere as “lemon umami” and I think its the best definition for them. It dulls the bitter edge of the lemon without sacrificing any of the lemonness. Plus, you aren’t just squeezing some juice out of it. You are chopping up the flesh and the rind. You are getting every bit of that lemon. Preserved lemon is available in stores and it isn’t too pricey, but it is also wicked easy to make yourself. You really just need organic lemons, kosher salt and a jar. Different recipes add other variables. Some throw in a little sugar. Some add black peppercorns and bay leaves. The ones that I buy from the store (when I get too lazy to make them) have a chili pepper floating in there. There is no one way to do it, but for the first outing, buy some to see what I am talking about. You will never go back.

Za’atar is a middle eastern spice that can be used in a ton of different ways. It dazzles on flatbread with some caramelized onions. It works with chicken and fish. Add it to some tahini and oil for a great dressing. In this recipe, it is whisked with a little olive oil and drizzled over the top of the finished eggs. When you see it in stores, you might see both green and red varieties. The basic za’atar is green and is comprised of thyme, sumac, sesame seeds and salt. You might also see marjoram and oregano thrown in. Some people add cumin and that gives it the red color. However, if you are going to a store that stocks sumac, then odds are that it stocks za’atar. I made my own za’atar once. There was absolutely no improvement over the storebought blend.

The easiest shortcut in this recipe is to skip toasting and crushing the cumin seeds and just use ground cumin but I think the toasted cumin really sings here. I also love the excuse to use my mortar and pestle, which I really struggle to find uses for sometimes.

Also, can I just take a moment to wonder exactly how leeks are the single dirtiest vegetable ever. When you slice into them, almost every inner ring has dirt in it. All other vegetables are made to look supermarket pretty when we see them at stores, but not leeks. Leeks hold fast and firm, demanding that you see the earth that they came from. They will not be made pretty for you. (Okay, I may have gone a little around the bend with that thought. Let’s go back to the recipe.)

Ottolenghi recommends sauteing the leeks in butter and olive oil and I choose to omit the butter. He also does not use aleppo chile pepper but I always have that next to the stove so it tends to find its way into a lot of dishes that did not call for its presence. I like the flavor and I like the color it adds.

For the stock, you can easily substitute vegetable stock. And if you have no stock on hand, a half cup of water with a good chug of white wine vinegar will get the job done, but you will lose some flavor.

You want to have some good bread to eat this with. I ate this sitting in my backyard, which I include a picture of just because my backyard is really pretty. (I can claim no credit for that. Its a shared deck and my neighbor does all the pretty things. But boy do I enjoy the benefits of her labor.) Also, this photo highlights the mysterious speed bump on my back deck. Why are you there, speed bump?


Braised Eggs with Leeks and Spinach
(adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Guardian column)

1/4 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and crushed (or a 1/4 tsp ground cumin)
2 tbsp olive oil, separated (plus more as needed)
1 large leek (or 2-4 smaller leeks), trimmed and sliced
1/4 preserved lemon, seeds discarded, skin and flesh finely chopped
1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 egg
1 tbsp crumbled feta
1/4 tsp aleppo chile pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp za’atar

In a small pan, toast the cumin seeds over medium heat until they are lightly browned, about three to five minutes. Then grind the toasted seeds in a mortar and pestle until they are finely ground. Set aside.

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the leaks and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks have softened, about five minutes. Then add the chopped lemon (juice, flesh and rind) and ground cumin and stir for a minute. Add the stock and simmer for five minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated.


Add the spinach and fold it in until the spinach has just wilted. Then make a hole in the center of the mixture (or two holes if doing two eggs) and crack your egg into the hole. (I usually add a splash of stock to the pan, around the edge of my pile of greens, just to keep them from sticking to the pan.) Sprinkle feta and aleppo over the top and cover. Cook for four to five minutes.

While the egg is cooking, take a small bowl and whisk together the za’atar and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil until well blended.


Remove the lid and look at the beautiful thing you have made. Scoop into a bowl (spatula is a handy tool for doing this without jeopardizing the integrity of the yolk) and then drizzle with the za’atar oil. Eat immediately with toasted bread.

Arugula Baked Eggs with Yogurt and Crispy Sage Leaves


As a single person, one of the things that I find constantly aggravating about recipes is that they are all built for at least two but usually four people. Which means that if I am going to make a one-person version of a dish, then there is math involved and math just infuriates me because I am bad at it. So I really appreciate a dish that is flexible in portion size. You can make a little or a lot without a whole lot of adding or subtracting or, horror of horror, dividing of fractions.

The first time that I made the Baked Eggs with Yogurt and Chile from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty cookbook, I made the full portion size and it was definitely more food than I needed for breakfast that day, but the basic concept seemed easy enough to modify and scale up and down, which is what I have done here. I am laying out how much of each thing you need to cook a single egg with this preparation. You can multiple the items for multiple eggs, or just make yourself a nice light breakfast.

The basic idea is to use some lightly sauteed arugula as a bed for a slow baked egg and then top that with a dollop of yogurt and some spicy fried sage leaves. It all gets mixed together and you have the bitterness of the arugula with the richness of the egg and the tart yogurt to balance out the spiced up sage. I eat it with some whole wheat toast. I actually use my toast as the spoon.

I made a couple of small changes to Ottolenghi’s recipe. First, he suggests that you cook the arugula in olive oil and butter. I substitute in some coconut oil because I wanted to take the overall butter content down in this dish. There is butter to finish it off so I never miss it. Second, he adds garlic to his yogurt topper. This is a lovely addition that I always think I am going to do but then it is time to mince garlic and I always say screw it. I don’t miss it. Third, he uses Kirmizi Biber as the spice with his sage and butter. Its not something that I keep in my kitchen and my local spice shop does not carry it so I substitute in Aleppo Chile Pepper here (which is a fantastic addition to any spice rack and I highly recommend adding it if you do not have it).

I do the arugula sauteing and sage leaf frying in a small saucepan, but I bake the egg in a ramekin. If you don’t have a ramekin and are thinking that means that you don’t have any single serving size vessel that can go into the oven, check your coffee mugs. Many mugs are oven safe and can totally do the job here, especially since we aren’t cooking at a very high temperature. Check the bottoms of your mugs to see if you have one that is oven safe.


Arugula Baked Eggs with Yogurt and Crispy Sage Leaves
(Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi)

Coconut oil (or olive oil) to taste
2 cups of arugula
1 large egg
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon chile pepper (kirmizi biber, aleppo flakes, or crushed red pepper with a pinch of sweet paprika)
3 fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon yogurt
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: feta cheese, garlic, whole wheat toast

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.

In a small pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat until just warm and add the arugula with a little salt and pepper, stirring until the arugula wilts and releases its water. (This will take about five minutes and you can always press down on the arugula with your spoon to heat it release the water.) Pile the arugula into a small oven safe dish (ramekin is ideal) and make a hole in the center of the pile. Crack your egg into the center. Sprinkle a little salt on top. (You can also sprinkle a little feta and some of your chosen chile pepper on top if you feel that way inclined.) Place on the center shelf of the oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the egg white is  set.

While the egg is cooking, wipe out the small pan and heat the butter. Once it is melted, add the chile pepper and cook for two to three minutes until the butter takes on a nice red color. Add the sage leaves and fry for one to two minutes until crispy. Set aside.

Optional: You can mince a clove of fresh garlic and add to the yogurt with a pinch of salt.

When the egg is finished cooking, add the yogurt and sage leaves. You can eat as it is or with toast.

FOLLOW UP QUESTION: How am I supposed to eat this?

I am astounded by the number of times that I follow a recipe to the letter, sit down to a beautiful finished dish and I am left wondering, um, how exactly should I be eating this? Do I eat it with a fork? With a spoon? Do I eat one thing at a time or lump it all together?  Why aren’t there eating instructions? I was faced with this very dilemma the first time that I made this dish. It looked lovely, but I spent several minutes poking it with my fork before I ventured in. What I have discovered after making this several times is that you take a fork and mash it all together so that you have something like this:


Then, you take some toast and pile the arugula on the toast and eat it. You can eat it without the toast, but I find that the texture of the toast rounds the dish off nicely and helps turn a single ramekin into a nice full meal.

Rhubarb Pie


Hey there. Its been awhile. I sort of fell out of love with this blog for a bit. Or maybe I just reached my cake threshold. Read back and you will see that there was an appalling amount of cake just before the blog went on extended hiatus. (Oh, you think there is no such thing as too much cake?  Trust me, there is.)

But yesterday was the first grilling day of the year and I am inspired to post a little about this pie that I made because it is a thing of beauty. I served it with two kinds of homemade ice cream (honey and caramel) and several people commented that they wished they had skipped the ice cream but it was interfering with the pie. This pie stands on its own.

The recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart. It features an all butter crust and a simple crumble. Martha’s recipe (and yes, I call her Martha, because she and I go back) differs in execution from mine in one dramatic way. When you make the rhubarb filling for the pie, she instructs you to use a cup of sugar along with two tablespoons of corn starch, toss and then “pour” into the pie plate. I don’t pour. I lift the rhubarb out a handful at a time. This results in a mixing bowl with most of that cup of sugar still sitting in the bottom of the bowl. GOOD. Leave it there. What you have done is given your rhubarb a dusting of sugar. Rhubarb is not a wet fruit so only a bit of the sugar will be accounted for in the final product. (Though the crumble has some sugar in it, so you still get a bit of sweet.) But the result here is that the rhubarb stays tart. It retains its rhubarb-ness.

I think I am going to try to do a post a week this summer, but I’ll be focusing more on vegetables and exploring more of Yotam Ottlenghi’s cookbooks. (He has been my obsession lately. For next week’s post, I may revisit a cauliflower salad of his that I made yesterday.) So, happy summer. Come here to see what I’m cooking.

Rhubarb Pie
(Adapted from Martha Stewart)

Pie Dough

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup ice water

Combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Begin adding the water a tablespoon at a time until the dough can be loosely packed together.

ONE CRUST OR TWO: You can go one of two ways here. Divide the dough into two balls and use one of them for the crust or make one giant ball for an extra thick crust. I chose the latter option and I highly recommend it. Rhubarb is a heavy fruit. Even the thick crust has trouble standing up to it.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, up to 2 days.

When you are ready to bake your pie, roll the dough out to a 14 inch diameter and spread over the pie plate. Using kitchen shears, trim so you have one inch of dough hanging over the sides of the plate. (If you are like me and cannot get pie dough to form a circle for the life of you and so always have one little spot where no overhang is happening, you can use the trimmings and sort of tack it on.) Crimp the edges and refrigerate the plated crust for one hour.

CRIMPING: It has taken me many pies to get the crimping thing down and I am sure that my technique can be further improved upon. At present, I take my overhang of dough and fold it up so that I have a thick layer of dough around the edges. Then I use my pointer and middle finger, with a little space between, and press to form two little indents. I then move the fingers one over, so the pointer rests where the ring finger was and repeat. I do this all the way around. The result is pictured above.


3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

While the pie crust is chilling, make your crumble.

Combine the dry ingredients and stir well. Use your hands to work the butter in. Press the butter between your fingers to smash it all together. Once it is well combined, cover and chill until ready to bake.

Pie Filling

1 3/4 pounds of rhubarb (about six stalks)
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Flour for dusting

When you are ready to bake your pie, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Trim the ends off of the rhubarb and cut the stalks into even pieces. (Pieces should be 1/2 inch to 1 inch, depending on the thickness of the stalk. I had a mix of very thick stalks and thinner stalks, so the thicker stalks were cut into 1/2 inch pieces and the thinner stalks were closer to an inch.) You should have about six cups of rhubarb. (I used my digital scale to confirm that I was still right around 1 3/4 pounds instead of using a measuring cup. I have kitchen anxiety if I ever have to measure out more than five cups of anything. I am convinced that I am going to get distracted and lose count and have to start over.)

Toss the rhubarb with sugar and cornstarch.

NOTE: Do you need the whole cup of sugar for the tossing? I think so. You want enough for the even dusting. Almost the entire cup will get thrown out. Its a bit wasteful. You can experiment with using less sugar and see how it goes. I did not.

Remove your pie crust from the fridge. Take handful of the rhubarb and dump into the crust. (Remember, there will be sugar left in the bowl. Maybe a lot of sugar. Leave it there.) When all the rhubarb is in, sprinkle the crumble over the top. It will fall into the crevices here and there. Place the pie plate on a foil lined baking sheet and put into your pre-heated oven. Immediately turn the temperature down to 375 degrees.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours. (Check periodically to make sure that the crust and crumble are not browning too quickly. If they look pretty brown at the one hour mark, you should tent with foil for the remainder of the cooking period.)

Cool pie completely before serving (with or without ice cream).

Apple Tart Cake


This is a perfect cake for this time of year. As August draws to a close, the markets start to flood with apples. Apple cakes have a tendency to be dense, saturated with butter or caramel, too heavy for the weather. Not this cake. This cake is light as a feather.

You make a very basic tart-like dough in the food processor. It gets pressed into a springform pan but not tightly. Press it too tightly and you will have a nice crispy exterior with very little cake within it. Pressed lightly and the outside develops a nice crust while the inside has a nice thin layer of fluffy cake.

Then the apples. The apples are where the work comes in to this cake. First, the apples are peeled, halved, cored and sliced as thin as you can get them. Then they are set standing atop the dough in a circular pattern. I tend to vary my patterns a little bit, but on this occasion I started by gathering five or six apple slices and setting them at regular intervals around the pan.


I then started adding more sliced apples to fill in the gaps. Once all the gaps were filled, I took the remaining slices and cut those in half to more easily squeeze every last one into the pan. You want to fill every nook and cranny.


The majority of the baking is done with just the dough and apples. This allows the dough to seal before any liquid is added and it allows the apples to retain their structure. After 45 minutes of baking, the cake is taken out and a simple butter, sugar, cinnamon and egg mixture is spooned over the top. It cooks for another 20 minutes until the topping is just set. It takes a while to cool and it greatly benefits from being made a day in advance so the flavors can all settle.

The end result is just lovely. Every element separate and distinct but all in harmony. It takes a little bit of work to make it happen, but it is totally worth it.

Apple Tart Cake
(Adapted from Orangette)

For cake:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
5 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into a few pieces
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 large tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced very thinly

For topping:
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour an 8-inch springform pan.

In a small bowl, beat the egg and add the vanilla to it. Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and baking powder and pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse until no large lumps remain. Add the egg-vanilla mixture and blend until well combined. Take the dough and lightly press it into the bottom of the springform pan, letting it creep up the sides an inch or so. (Do not tightly compact the dough.)

Now arrange the apples in a circular pattern atop the dough. Squeeze in as many as will fit and then squeeze in a few more until you literally cannot fit another apple slice in there. Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 45 minutes.

When the 45 minutes is almost up, make the topping.*

Remove the cake from the oven and spoon the topping evenly over the cake. Put the cake back in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the topping is set.

Remove the cake and set to cool on a rack for 20 minutes. Then run a knife along the edge and remove the sides of the springform pan. Let the cake finish cooling.

The cake is best the next day so once it is cool, cover tightly and store at room temperature until the following day. Then serve with some vanilla ice cream.


* If you want to make the topping right after the cake goes in, you can go ahead and melt the butter and add the sugar and cinnamon but wait until the last minute to add the egg. Sugar will change the structure of the egg if it is left to sit. I would recommend sitting the melted butter-sugar-cinnamon mixture on top of the warm oven while the cake bakes to keep it fluid. Then mix in the egg at the last minute.