Rhubarb & Strawberry Sauce

Yield: 8 – 12

I remember first eating rhubarb out of my Great-Grandma Lamb’s garden. Esther Lovina Heaton Lamb was the first person to introduce me to the marvels of rhubarb (and gardening in general). As a skinny six year old, I would raid the garden in late spring for gooseberries and tart rhubarb stalks. My face would pucker, but I loved a fresh stalk of rhubarb. Sometimes I even added salt to it. It was years before I could get my mind around cooking the stuff and adding sugar to it. My mother did not encourage eating sugar, and I didn’t know what I was missing, so we were both happy.

I use this sauce over ice-cream, with butter for rolls and bread, in grilled cheese and charcuterie sandwiches, as a base for BBQ sauce, and as the start to a family favorite: Strawberry – Rhubarb ice-cream. The quanities here are for a large batch recipe, but it can be cut down by 1/2 or 1/4 easily to make a smaller batches. It freezes well, or can be canned for longer shelf-life.

Ingredients

8 Cups Rhubarb, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
8 Cups Strawberries, washed and quartered
1 to 1 1/2 Cup Sugar, to taste
1 Lemon, juiced and seeds discarded
1/2 Cup Water

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot or dutch oven. Use only one cup of sugar initially. Additional sugar can be added later in the process if desired.
  2. Place on stove top and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer (medium to medium-low) and cook for 45 minutes, or longer, depending on how thick you want the sauce. Stir frequently to prevent sugars from sticking to bottom of pan and scorching. Near the end of cooking, taste and adjust sugar in 1/4 cup increments until desired sweetness is achieved.
  3. Serve warm or cold. Refrigerate to store for up to one week. Freeze for up to six months, or utilize a sterile canning process to preserve for up to one year.

About Rhubarb

I have two beautiful rhubarb plants just off the border of the back lawn. Rhubarb is one of the things I can grow in the open yard vs. the fenced off garden area because the deer, rabbits, squirrels and birds will leave it alone. My rhubarb plants were established from rhizome starts provided by a neighbor reducing his rapidly expanding crop. I felt fortunate and grateful to recieve a well-acclimated, edible variety. Today, it is well established and produces up to 5 pounds of rhubarb per plant per year. Eventually, I will need to divide it and share it with another rhubarb enthusiast.

Rhubarb is grown from divided rhizome roots, or seed, does best in Northern climates, and begins to emerge from dormancy in the late winter and early spring. The leaves are actually poisonous and should be avoided. Wild animals know this instinctively and will not bother Rhubarb mixed in with your ornamental beds. Do not try to feed it to domestic pets and livestock.

Rhubarb does not have to be relegated to a formal fruit and vegetable garden setting. There are ornamental, medicinal, and culinary varieties. I accidentally bought an ornamental cultivare as an early vegetable gardener, quickly recognizing my mistake when it bloomed beautifully, and rained seeds from very hollow stalks that were not at all edible. I’ve transferred this lovely specimen to a place where it provides cover for baby Quail each year, and now grow the edible varieties separately.

Ornamental Rhubarb

Edible Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a vegetable and not a fruit as some would suspect as it is often paired with sweeter fruits and berries. While the leaves are poisonous, the stalks are edible. Rhubarb has high fiber, and is a great source of calcium, vitamin K, vitamin C, iron and manganese. It does carry oxalates (as do almonds, spinach, kale and nut butters) which inhibit the uptake of calcium. Yes, it ironic that it has high levels of calcium and oxalates that bind that calcium and prevent absorption all at the same time. Cooking helps break down oxalates and combining with fruit further reduces the concentration even further allowing more of the available calcium to be absorbed.

Rhubarb is originally from Asia, where it was primarily used for medicinal purposes. It was highly valued for its healing property and was traded with other countries by Asian emperors as a commodity along with tea. It made its way to Europe, via the Silk Road, but was not really introduced into culinary arts until the 1700’s where it first emerged as a filling for pies and tarts.

Huevos Rancheros with Chipotle Black Bean Sauce

Happy Cinco de Mayo! We decided to skip the heavy Mexican food meal at the end of the day, and opt for Heuvos Rancheros for brunch this year. It is hearty and filling and will probably stay with us all day.

This dish is basically a layering of ingredients. The Fresh Red Salsa, Chipotle Salsa, and Chipotle Black Bean Sauce can be prepared a day in advance to save time. You could even fry the tortilla shells in advance as they will reheat well in the oven.

This recipe serves 4, but can be easily scaled up or down.

Ingredients

Base
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
8 Corn Tortillas
8 Eggs
15 oz. Can Refried Beans, divided
1 Cup Chipotle Black Bean Sauce, divided
1 Cup Shredded Cheese, divided (can use Monteray Jack, Cheddar or any combination you prefer)

Toppings
Shredded Lettuce
Chopped Fresh Cilantro
Lime Quarters
Sour Cream
Diced Tomatoes
Avocado Slices
Chipotle Black Bean Sauce
Fresh Red Salsa
Chipotle Salsa

Instructions

  1. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat and fry tortillas one at a time until firm, but not crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain grease.
  3. Meanwhile, place refried beans in a microwave-safe dish. Cover and cook in the microwave until heated through.
  4. When tortillas are fried and beans are heated, assemble the base by placing four tortillas on the baking sheet. Top with 1/4 of the refried beans, 1/4 cup Chipotle Black Bean Sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup grated cheese, or more if you like it really cheesy.
  5. Place remaining fried tortillas on serving plates.
  6. Bake base until cheese is melted, 2 to 5 minutes, keeping an eye out so you don’t overcook.
  7. While base is cooking , fry eggs over-easy in the skillet. Add butter if the tortillas have absorbed all the oil.
  8. Remove base from oven, place on top of tortilla on serving plate. Top with two fried eggs per plate.
  9. Add desired toppings and serve immediately with extra salsa and sauce on the side.

Chipotle Salsa

This a smokey hot salsa that can be used on it’s own, or added to other ingredients as a seasoning for other sauces, dips and spreads.

This recipe makes 4 Cups. It freezes well and can be doubled easily.

Ingredients

1 7 ounce can Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
3 Cups Fresh Red Salsa (homemade or store bought)

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes until fresh salsa is cooked and chipotle peppers are incorporated into the sauce

Fresh Red Salsa

Makes 4 Cups

This is a raw Salsa with simple, fresh ingredients that can be whipped up in less than a half hour. It stores well for several days, or can alternately be cooked and kept for up to a week. After cooking, it freezes well. Recipe can be adjusted up for canning.

Ingredients

6 Medium Tomatoes, seeded and quartered
1 - 2 Jalapenos, seeded and ribs removed
1 Red Bell Pepper, seeded and ribs removed
1/2 to 2/3 Medium Yellow Onion, cut into large chunks
1/2 to 3/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Lime, juiced
1 to 3 Garlic Cloves, peeled
2 Handfuls Cilantro Leaves

Instructions

  1. In a food processor fitted with an S-blade, pulse onion, bell pepper and one jalepeno until large chunks. Do not over pulse at this stage.
  2. Add tomatoes, lime juice, cilantro and 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 clove of garlic to food process bowl, and pulse to a chunky stage. Adjust onion, garlic, jalapeno and salt to taste. Before adding adjusted ingredients, chop into small pieces.
  3. Pulse a few more times, being careful not to puree.
  4. Chill for 2 to 4 hours before serving to allow flavors to blend.

Thai Style Almond Butter Sauce

I like peanut dipping sauce, but prefer raw almond butter to peanut butter any day. For people with peanut allergies, or avoidin legumes, this is a tasty substitute for peanut dipping sauce. Recipe is also suitable for those following raw foods, vegetarian, and vegan diets. Remove the maple syrup for a paleo or keto diet.

This sauce is wonderful for dipping, can be thinned with rice vinegar for a tasty salad dressing, and can be used in place of barbeque sauce when grilling. It’s not beautiful, but it is delicious.

Ingredients

1 Teaspoon Fresh Ginger, grated
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1/2 Cup Raw Almond Butter
1 Tablespoon Toasted Sesame oil
1 Lime, juiced
2 Tablespoons Tamari (low sodium, gluten free)
1 Teaspoon Maple Syrup
2 Tablespoons Water
Optional: 1/2 Teaspoon Siracha Chili Sauce, or to taste

Instructions

  1. Place Ginger and Garlic in a pestal and mortar and mash into a paste.
  2. In a small bowl, combine mashed ginger and garlic with remaining ingredients.
  3. Whisk to blend thoroughly.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to use. Keeps for up to one week.
Ginger and Garlic Paste

Mashing ginger and garlic allows it to be more smoothly incorporated into the sauce. Alternatively, all ingredients can be placed in a food processor and blended until smooth and creamy.

Basic Marinara Sauce

This recipe is for a very basic marinara sauce done in a large batch style. It can stand alone as a dipping sauce (it’s quite thick), serve as a red pizza sauce base, sauce for lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, eggplant and chicken parmesan, etc.

I like to make a very large batch and freeze it in quart size deli containers. I typically use tomatoes from my garden either fresh, or frozen whole and thawed. When home grown tomatoes are not available, canned tomatoes such as San Marzano whole peeled can be used.

In this recipe I omit Oregano, which may surprise some. I find that it is very strong and can easily overpower the sauce, so I add it later, when I am using the sauce for dishes that are complimented by it.

This recipe is designed to be able to be reduced b 1/2 or 1/3 of the amounts here to allow for smaller batches with the same flavor.

Ingredients

12 Cups Whole Tomatoes, peeled (fresh, frozen or canned)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
6 Cups Yellow Onion, diced
1 1/2 Cups Carrot, diced
1 1/2 Cups Celery, diced
1 1/2 Cups Red or Yellow Bell Pepper, diced
2 Shallots, diced
6 Garlic cloves, minced
4 Bay Leaves, Whole
1 Cup torn Sweet Basil leaves
1 Tablespoon Rosemary leaves, fresh removed from stem
1/2 Cup Italian Parsley, rough chopped
12 oz. Tomato Paste
1 Tablespooon Salt
1 Teaspoon Black Pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat until warmed.
  2. Add onion, carrot, celery, peppers, and shallots.
  3. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until vegetables begin to brown and release sugars.
  4. Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent over browning of vegetables.
  5. When garlic is soft, add remaining ingredients to the pot.
  6. Continue to cook over medium heat until sauce begins to boil.
  7. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover with a lid and allow sauce to cook for at least 2 hours until carrots are of a consistence that they can be mashed and the tomatoes are completely cooked.
  8. Remove from heat and remove bay leaves from sauce. Allow sauce to cool.
  9. Using an immersion blender, food processor or regular blender, puree the cooked vegetables into a smooth sauce. For a chunkier sauce, just pulse a few times with the blender you are using.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Be warned, this creamy soup packs in a lot of calories. Most of the calories come from fat, and this does comply with the Keto diet if that is your thing. Fat is where the flavor is at! But it is balanced with highly nutrious vegetables and stock. Changing to vegetable stock and omitting the bacon makes this a hearty vegetarian meal.

I start this soup with a classic Mirepoix, the fundamental element of classic cuisine. Three aromatic ingredients (carrot, celery and onion) come together to provide flavor and aroma to stock, soups, sauces and other foods.

This soup can be made quickly on a weeknight. The recipe makes about 3 quarts of soup. It can be divided easily to make less. It does freeze well because of the emulsion of the cheeses into the soup and stores in the refrigerator for several days.

Ingredients

3 Tablespoons Butter
Drizzle of Avocado Oil
1 Whole Medium Onion, Diced
1 Whole Large Carrot, Diced
3 Celery Stocks, Diced
4 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
2 Quartz Chicken or Vegetable Stock
8 Cups Broccoli Florets (fresh preferred, can use frozen)
8 ounces Cream Cheese
3 Cups Cheddar Cheese, Grated

Optional Toppings:
Additional Steamed Broccoli Florets
Cooked Bacon Crumbles
Cheddar Cheese, Grated

Instructions

  1. Over medium heat, melt butter and avocado oil in a large stock pot or dutch oven.
  2. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook until onion is translucent. Stir frequently for even cooking. Do not brown.
  3. Add garlic and continue cooking for 1-3 minutes more, garlic will soften.
  4. Add stock and fresh broccoli. If using frozen broccoli, see step 5. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer.
  5. Simmer for 30 minutes. Broccoli will be very tender. If using frozen broccoli, do not add it until the last 10 minutes of cooking time as it is already partially cooked before it is frozen.
  6. Remove from heat and blend with an emmersion blender or in batches using a food processor or traditional blender.
  7. Return to low heat and add in the cream cheese and cheddar cheese. Cook stirring continuously until cheese are melted and incorporated into the vegetable puree. If you wish, use the emmersion blender to thoroughly incorporate the cheeses.
  8. At this point, the soup is done and ready to serve.
  9. Top with optional steamed broccoli, bacon crumbles and cheese if desired.