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Grandma’s Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

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Rhubarb upside down browns on top, but creamy and sweet on the bottom

Rhubarb upside down browns on top, but creamy and sweet on the bottom

Growing up in Wisconsin, I thought that rhubarb was just one of those plants that everyone had in the yard, like grass.  We had a huge rhubarb plant, as did my grandma.  Both my mom and my grandma used to make this cake in the summer to take advantage of the fresh rhubarb.  And then we would cut up and freeze rhubarb in 2c baggies so we could have it all winter.  Everyone loves it.  Everyone.  This is quite possibly the moistest cake ever.  And the other perfect part – it is crazy easy.  It really is in my head as a list of ingredients, not as a recipe at all.

The rhubarb, sugar and cream make a sweet layer that will end up on the bottom of the cake

The rhubarb, sugar and cream make a sweet layer that will end up on the bottom of the cake

 

I have used it as a go-to for entertaining since it is summery and looks light, although it is rich and very satisfying.  Arvind loves this cake.  And he definitely a chocolate guy.  The first time I made this, I don’t think he walked through the kitchen without taking a few bites.   The poor guy has been traveling for work a lot and we’re visiting friends this weekend, so I decided to pull a little rhubarb out of the freezer to make him this treat.  So, I know it isn’t prime rhubarb season, you still can get a few stalks out of your garden.  And if you have a few extra, cut them up for the middle of the winter as well!

Grandma’s Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

2 c sliced rhubarb
2 c sugar
2 c heavy cream (the one pint sized container)
1 yellow cake mix

The additional ingredients listed on the yellow cake mix (eggs, oil, water, etc)

Mix the rhubarb, sugar and cream together.  In a separate bowl, mix the cake according to the package.  Pour cake batter into a greased 13 x 9.  Stir up the rhubarb mixture and pour over the batter.  Ease the rhubarb into the corners of batter (it will fall through to the bottom).  Bake according to the package, until done.  I usually have to add 10-15 extra min to get it to be done.  To serve, flip pieces to be rhubarb-side up.

The rhubarb mixture will fall through the cake batter as it cooks.  Just try to make sure the rhubarb spread out throughout the pan

The rhubarb mixture will fall through the cake batter as it cooks. Just try to make sure the rhubarb spread out throughout the pan

 

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Corn! 2 Ways to Enjoy Fresh Corn (That isn’t corn on the cob)

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Creamed Corn that is guilt-free!

Creamed Corn that is guilt-free!

Corn Casserole - all sorts of yumminess

Corn Casserole – all sorts of yumminess

It is corn season.  And like any self-respecting Midwesterner, that means I’m drawn to the large pick-up trucks full of sweet corn stationed on county roads, parking lots and farmers markets.  We’ve had plenty of grilled corn and boiled corn on the cob, but sometimes you want to mix it up.  Or I have overbought in my excitement about yummy corn and realize I need to do something with it while it is still all fresh and juicy.  Here are 2 recipes to use up yummy corn and mix it up a bit.

The first recipe is for creamed corn.  I know you are picturing that little can of creamed corn from your childhood.  This is anything but that.  Think more adult, more flavorful and best of all – nearly fat free!  I whip up a batch of this and use about half for the following casserole recipe.  But Arvind and I fight each other for the last drop of this one!

The second recipe you may already have.  Perhaps written on the back of an envelope or a scrap of paper stuck in with the rest of your recipes. It is the corn casserole you make with the Jiffy cornbread mix.  Super easy!  Almost no measuring involved.  It is juicier than cornbread, but more solid that creamed corn.

If you still have more corn after this, save some for the winter. I grill corn, cut it off the cob and then put it in freezer bags.  In the winter when I’m making something that calls for frozen corn, I have some all ready to go!

If you now have cornbread on the brain, I would recommend this recipe for quite possibly the very best corn bread ever.   Personally, I only make ¼ of the maple butter and serve that on the side.  And I have made it in a 9×9 pan or doubled the recipe and put it in a 13×9 pan.

If you want to see any of the pictures more closely, just click on them.

Get a firm hold of the cob and cut off the kernels

Get a firm hold of the cob and cut off the kernels

Creamed Corn
4-5 ears of corn, kernels cut off (see picture for how)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 cans fat-free evaporated milk
¼ c whole wheat flour (all-purpose is OK too)

Cut the corn off the cob.  There are different schools of thought on how to do this.  I find holding the cob flat on a cutting board and cutting along the length of it, then rotating a little and repeating works well.  When I’m done, I go around the corn looking for stray pieces.

Creamed corn as it thickens

Creamed corn as it thickens

Mix the corn, salt, sugar, pepper butter and 1 can of milk in a skillet.  Pour about 1/3-1/2 of the milk in from the second can in as well.  The mix the flour into the remaining milk until it is fairly smooth.  Add that into the corn as well.  Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasssionally.  When it comes to a boil, stir constantly until it is as thick as you’d like it to be.  Turn off heat and serve or use in the following recipe.

Corn Casserole
2-3 ears of corn corn
2 c creamed corn (see above)
1 (8-ounce) package Jiffy corn muffin mix
8 oz container (1 cup) sour cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Have at those cobs to get all the corn off of them

Have at those cobs to get all the corn off of them

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 13” x 9” pan.  Cut the corn off of the cob.  Mix everything together and put in 13 x 9.  Bake for 45 min until starts to brown on top.

The casserole before it goes in the oven.  (See above when when it is done)

The casserole before it goes in the oven. (See above when when it is done)

Roasted Shrimp and Orzo

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This just tastes like summer!  If you grow herbs, they are getting big enough to be using, which makes this a perfect easy addition to your summer repetoire of one-dish meals.  The fresh herbs make this meal, so don’t use dried.  It is totally worth the splurge to buy them if you don’t grow them.  The orzo can be regular or whole wheat.

I love this dish for entertaining because you can make it ahead, toss it in the fridge and pull it out when you sit down to dinner.  And yet, it is a one-dish meal.  You can add a salad on the side to round it out.  Sorry there is no picture.  I’m surprised I don’t have one because I have made it a lot of times.

If you don’t want to turn on the oven in the summertime, you could grill the shrimp as well.

Note for food allergy people – if you (or your guests) are allergic to parts of the recipe, you can pull out some of the dish before adding in the offending item and then they still get to eat what everyone else has, but you don’t have to make an entirely different meal for them.  I served this at book club with a shrimp-free option and a feta-free option.

Kosher salt
Good olive oil
3/4 pound orzo pasta (rice-shaped pasta)
1/2 c freshly squeezed lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds (16 to 18 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 c minced green onions, white and green parts
1 c chopped fresh dill
1 c chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cucumber, seeded, and medium-diced
1/2 c small-diced red onion
3/4 pound good feta cheese, large diced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Fill a large pot with water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and bring the water to a boil. Add the orzo and simmer for 9 to 11 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it’s cooked al dente. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Meanwhile whisk together the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Pour over the hot pasta and stir well.

While the orzo is cooking, place the shrimp on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread out in a single layer. Roast for 5 to 6 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through. Don’t overcook!

Add the shrimp to the orzo and then add the green onions, dill, parsley, cucumber, onion, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss well. Add the feta and stir carefully. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate overnight. If refrigerated, taste again for seasonings and bring back to room temperature before serving.

Bengali Egg Rolls

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Egg roll before it is rolled - parathas, egg, keema and sauce, yum!

Egg roll before it is rolled – parathas, egg, keema and sauce, yum!

This is part 3 in a 3 part series of recipes that go together – parathas, keema and Bengali egg rolls.  They are called egg rolls because they actually have eggs in them, so forget Chinese egg rolls and give these a try. This is one of Arvind’s all-time favorite dishes.  You can tell, he stopped taking picture once they were almost assembled.  It is a snack, but if you make enough of them, they can become a meal.

The filling is extremely flexible and is nearly begging for you to add your own fusion style here.  For this recipe, I’m going with keema (see recipe in meat section), but you can put any leftovers you have in there that is not too liquidy.  The recipe is for 4 egg rolls, but you can see how to easily move it up or down to fit any quantity you want.  Also, prepare to be hooked on parathas, the most wonderful Indian bread ever.  The directions are in excruciating detail, so don’t worry, it sounds like more work than it is.  They are actually super quick once you get everything assembled.

Get all your ingredients laid out ahead of time - it goes quickly

Get all your ingredients laid out ahead of time – it goes quickly

Ingredients
4 eggs
½ of an onion, finely chopped (if you have onions in your meat, you can skip this)
1 c keema, (but see notes below)*
Maggie Hot and Sweet Sauce**
Cilantro for garnish
4 parathas, still frozen***
toothpicks

Notes
*  You just want finely chopped meat (or nice veggie) here for contrasting flavors.  I like keema (here’s a link to the recipe), but you could used chopped up cooked chicken (like leftover from rotisserie chicken), cooked hamburger, leftover Indian dishes that aren’t too saucy, etc.  Or go fusion and come up with something entirely different!

Heat up parathas and then start the first egg when they are almost done

Heat up parathas and then start the first egg when they are almost done

**Maggie Hot and Sweet sauce is sort of an Indian ketchup. Their tagline is “It’s Different!” and it is.  It is also great on scrambled eggs, potatoes, etc.   It has a little heat and is a little sweet
*** For paratha directions, see the blog on how to make parathas (click here).

Directions
Crack eggs into a bowl with a lip (like a measuring cup).  Scramble them.  Set aside.  If you like raw onions, set those aside.  If you don’t, brown the onions and set aside.  Heat up the meat.  Have the Hot and Sweet sauce and cilantro ready to go. (You may want to taste the sauce to make sure you like it before adding it to the food.  Arvind does not like it, I love it.)  Get your toothpicks handy.

Put the cooked paratha on the egg as it cooks

Put the cooked paratha on the egg as it cooks

 

Heat up a paratha according to my previous post.

Meanwhile heat up a second non-stick pan over medium heat.  When the paratha is almost done, put some oil in the second pan and pour in about 1 egg’s worth into the center of the pan and do not touch it.  You’ll see the egg start to set. When that happens, put the cooked paratha on top of it.  Use a spatula to push the paratha down into the egg.  Then use the spatula to get under the egg and paratha in one go and flip it over (they’ll go together).  Then transfer the paratha, egg-up onto a work area.

Take the paratha/egg off the heat and add the filling.  (There is a litte too much egg on this one)

Take the paratha/egg off the heat and add the filling. (There is a litte too much egg on this one)

Top the paratha with meat, onions, sauce and cilantro.  Roll it up and secure it with some toothpicks.   Set that one aside and continue on making the rest of them the same way.  Arvind and I create an assembly line – he makes the parathas.  I do the egg and fill them.  It goes really fast, so that is why you want have everything all ready to go before you start.

The basic thing is paratha and egg with a little something else mixed in.  Have fun experimenting with flavors you like or leftovers you don’t know what to do with.  Think of it like I’m giving you the recipe for burritos.  Sure, this combo is good, but really, you can mix and match up stuff you like.

Post combinations below that you like so other people can enjoy your combinations.

Sophisticated Ladies

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I am currently working on the sequel to my original Sophisticated Ladies, The Cookbook.  This new book (Sophisticated Ladies, Part Deux) will include recipes from Sophisticated Ladies all over the world.  The only problem is that it take a long time to compile and test that many recipes!  And I am devastated that I can’t put all of them in the version.  So I thought a blog might be a good way to add in some extra good recipes and post pictures and commentaries on some of the recipes as I am testing them out.  So feel free to comeback and check out as I add to the blog!