A messy life and a messy rhubarb and coconut slice

In our social media lives, we are inundated with beauty. Images of gorgeous food, people and places rain down upon us from our Instagram, Facebook and blogging feeds. This stuff floats my boat. It inspires and feeds the creative beast that lurks within. There is nothing wrong with beauty, with wanting to create it or own it. It lifts our spirits and soothes our eyes and souls when we are weary, low or merely bored.

Beauty lubricates life and is the grease that keeps my wheels turning. But there is a flip side to every coin and a ying to every yang.

When viewing these images, we can easily forget the chaos that goes on behind the scenes and that life is intrinsically messy. Children are, intimacy is, friendships and family can be. My hair is messy and curly, no matter how I may try to tame it. My house is a weird mixture of beauty, clutter and order. Work is not always straightforward, nor is writing a blog. It can be difficult to decide how much to reveal and how much to keep private. Disarray abounds.

This slice reminded me of that fact. Whilst trying to smooth the troublesome batter into the cake tin, the temptation of binning the entire bake was high. My fingers were steeped in a sticky blend of butter and flour and as the vibrant rhubarb poached, my temper rose to simmering point. The coconut crumble for the top resembled the surface of the moon and the resulting photos looked shambolic. The scrappy coconut playing havoc with my focus (both the cameras and my own.)

Don’t post, came to mind. Yet it tasted so very, very good. The jammy sweet and sour rhubarb was offset by a crunchy biscuity bottom and the textural tropical macaroon topping. The Yak was a very happy man, giving it the big coeliac thumbs up. He certainly didn’t give a flying fig how it looked.

So perhaps, loveliness is also in the mess. We were brought up to believe that beauty is only skin deep and what truly matters is depth of character. Something we try and relay to our own children. So much of the food we consume at home isn’t always picture book perfect but it certainly tastes darned good.

Beauty perhaps, truly is in the eye of the beholder.

GLUTEN FREE RHUBARB AND COCONUT SLICE

WHAT YOU NEED
150g butter, softened
1/3 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup gluten free plain flour
1/4 cup teff flour (or rice flour)
2 bunches rhubarb (I had one big bunch that weighed 550g) washed, trimmed and cut into 3cm lengths
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup caster sugar (to cook with rhubarb)

Topping
2 cups desiccated coconut
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup caster sugar

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 160C and line a 3.5cm deep 16cm x 26 cm (base) lamington pan. I used a larger tin and spread the mixture out to roughly those dimensions.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and the 1/3 cup of sugar until well combined.
Sift the plain and teff flours into the butter mixture and mix well.
Using an offset spatula (the recipe suggests floured fingertips but I found it far too messy), press and smooth the flour mixture evenly into a pan.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Cool down and increase the oven temperature to 170C.
While the base is cooking, combine the rhubarb, water and 1/4 cup caster sugar in a large saucepan. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for up to ten minutes or until the rhubarb is tender. Let cool for about 30 minutes then spoon the rhubarb mixture over the cooled and cooked base.
Topping
Mix the eggs, sugar and coconut well, then spoon the mixture over the rhubarb. Press down and bake for 25 – 30 minutes until light golden. Cool in the pan and cut into squares or slices.

An adaptation of a recipe from the Taste website. Link to original recipe provided after the photos.

IMG_4719

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/7676/rhubarb+and+coconut+slice

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The last meal and a gluten free rhubarb frangipane tart

Nigh on an eon ago, whilst undertaking my food studies course, we made frangipane for the first time. Frangipane is a filling for a cake or tart made with, or flavoured by almonds. In this day and age, it is normally made of ground almonds, butter, egg and sugar. The manner in which this mixture puffed up and surrounded the fruit placed on top, seemed magical to me back then and still does today.

It appears that this fluffy almond concoction could also have been a favourite of a saint. Some googly research unearthed the charming story of Jacoba dei Settesoli, an Italian woman who married into the Frangipani family in 1210. After meeting Saint Frances of Assisi, she became a friend and follower of his, devoting her life to good works. The story goes that upon his death bed, Francis called for ‘Brother Jacoba’ (as he had named her due to her fortitude), to bring him some of his favourite almond treats. Much to the consternation of the other monks, she was allowed in to the monastery with a basket of almond pastries and stayed until the revered man took his last breath.

This tale of a woman before her time, feeding a saint the food he wished for on his death bed, led me to ponder what my last meal on earth would be. Before making this momentous decision, I asked The Yak what he would choose. He replied that it would have to be his ‘once favourite dish’ from his ‘once favourite’ Italian restaurant Buon Ricordo. The legendary cream and Parmesan fettuccine topped with a truffled egg. He would also feast on a basket of the finest gluten laden breads.

For myself at the time of writing (I am nothing if not fickle), it would probably include half a dozen Sydney rock oysters ‘au naturale’, a bowl of buttery garlic prawns, a slice of good sourdough bread to mop up the prawny juices, steamed asparagus spears drizzled with lemon, a splodge of the creamy French soft cheese Buche d’Affinois and an icy cold glass of champagne. (Well, maybe more than one.) For dessert, this pretty and delicate cake would certainly be a contender. The piquant rhubarb offsets the buttery, nutty, sweetness of the frangipane perfectly.

A tart worthy of a saint or a Cheergerm’s last meal.

RHUBARB FRANGIPANE TART, GLUTEN FREE

WHAT YOU NEED
150g unsalted butter, softened
150g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder (1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
1 lemon rind finely grated
150g almond meal
35g (1/4 cup) gluten free plain flour
150g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 5cm lengths

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 180C.
Grease a 34 cm x 12 loose based tart tin rectangular tin or a 23cm loose based flan tin.
Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until they are light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the vanilla and lemon rind and beat well.
Add almond meal and flour and fold to combine.
Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth the top with a spatula.
Arrange the rhubarb over the top of the mixture in a pleasing pattern.
Put in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the top is golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
If you want to serve it warm, give it 15 minutes before trying to take it out of the tin. Otherwise, cool completely then gently loosen the edges before removing carefully and placing onto a plate for presentation.
Dust with icing sugar and serve with cream or without. That’s really up to you.

Slightly adapted from the SBS food recipe website. Link follows the photos.

http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/rhubarb-pistachio-and-orange-blossom-frangipane-tart-rhubarb-syrup

http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/feb-8-bl-jacoba-de-settesoli

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacoba_of_Settesoli

http://buonricordo.com.au

http://www.aoap.com.au/content_common/pr-white-mould-cheese_guilloteau-buche-daffinois.seo


Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb and chocolate pudding, gluten free.

Pretty pink stems of rhubarb inspiration whacked me aside the head the other day at the growers market. (Not figuratively, that would have hurt.) This purchase, coupled with a recent winning deconstructed rhubarb and chocolate tart on MKR (My Kitchen Rules, an Aussie TV cooking competition), had the old brain cogs a whirring. The thinking was…how can I enjoy these flavours without going to a whole lot of bother/trouble/effort and time?

Pudding was the natural answer. (It often is.) A popular dessert in this here household is a rhubarb and gingerbread pudding, so why not look for a similar recipe using chocolate? Naturally, it had to be gluten free.

This cooky person did hold a little bit of hesitancy regarding the marriage of chocolate and rhubarb, but the way the judges on MKR oohed and threw compliments around the room like small boys with a new handball, meant it had to be tried.

My gluten free adaptation has a lot less sugar than the original recipe, the sourness of rhubarb is a fave in our family and we don’t like it too sweet, man. (The butter has been knocked back a bit too.) It does use a food processor so it is super easy and quick.

To really ensure it’s validity, a poll was taken from those who shovelled this pud into their fizzogs for dessert.

The Verdict

Kid 1: ‘It’s nice but not a winning combination, I much prefer rhubarb bumble (crumble.)’
Mr Bagpipes visiting from Big Sky Land: ‘Mmmmm, we can have more of that lass, somewhat down the track.’
The Yak: ‘Yummy, I love it.’
Cheergerm: I like the cray cray (what all the hip young thangs say for ‘crazy’) combo of bitter dark chocolate and slightly sour rhubarb. It’s nuts but it works.

What do 10 years old know anyway?

GLUTEN FREE RHUBARB AND CHOCOLATE PUDDING

WHAT YOU NEED

Fruit

700 g trimmed weight rhubarb (recipe said 600 but I had a big bunch)
Cut into 2cm sizes
50 g coconut sugar (or raw, brown, rapadura)

Sponge

150 g self raising gluten free flour
50 g sorghum flour (or buckwheat or teff flour)
25 g cocoa powder
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
150g butter, room temperature and diced
150 g coconut sugar (raw caster sugar, rapadura)
4 eggs, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 tsp vanilla extract
50g dark chocolate chips (I used the good stuff baby…Callebaut callet, oh, fancy Belgian chocolate)

WHAT YOU DO

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6.
Cut the rhubarb into 2 – 3 cm lengths and toss with the sugar in a bowl.
Spread evenly over the base of a buttered 30cm/2 litre capacity ovenproof dish (or equivalent size.)
Sift the flours, cocoa powder and baking powder in a separate bowl.
Reserving 2 tablespoons of the sugar, place the butter, eggs, vanilla and sifted mixture into a food processor and cream together. (No food processor? Try beating butter, vanilla and sugar, add eggs gradually then the sifted ingredients.)
Stir in the chocolate chips with a spoon.
Spread the mixture over the rhubarb and sprinkle on the reserved sugar.
Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. (Remember if you hit a choc chip it will come out looking like it isn’t cooked but it probably is).
This is great hot out of the oven, or warm.
We snarfled it with ice cream but it would be delicious with yoghurt, custard or cream.

A cheergerm adaptation from the daily mail uk website

Pop here for my gluten free rhubarb crumble recipe:

https://cheergerm.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/gluten-free-rhubarb-and-berry-bumble/

Go here for the original non-gluten free rhubarb and chocolate pudding recipe. You could still knock back the sugar and butter quantities as per this recipe and keep the rest the same.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-1272877/Recipe-Chocolate-rhubarb-sponge-pudding.html

Other websites that you may be interested in:

http://www.callebaut.com

https://au.tv.yahoo.com/my-kitchen-rules/recipe/23057262/deconstructed-chocolate


Gluten free rhubarb and berry bumble

Kid 1 is a crumble maniac, it all started at an early age. Back when he was a wee lad, he was unable to say ‘crumble’, instead it came out as ‘bumble’. His fave combo’s are rhubarb and apple or rhubarb and pear. However, he won’t say nay to the odd berry mix either. Usually I make two different crumble topping mixtures. One containing oats for Kid 1 and myself and a gluten free topping for the Yak.

Gluten free bumble toppings in the past have contained various combinations of buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, tapioca flour, almond meal, quinoa flour (gag) and teff flour (yum but hard to get.) It’s always a bit of ‘let’s see what happens this time’ scenario.

Anyhoo, today was a day of ‘I can’t be, ummmm…bothered with two different toppings’. So I went hardcore on just the one gluten free bumble. I was curious to see if Kid 1 missed the texture that the oats provide.

Turned out to be a happy experiment, yes indeedy. This tart rhubarb and raspberry bumble, combined with the earthy buckwheat and almond flours, the crunch of the nuts and the warmth of the spices is bloody delicious.

The only sound heard from Kid 1’s direction was that of a 9 year old boy eating with his mouth open. Chomp, chomp, gobble, swallow. ‘More please Mum?’. This mean old mumma said ‘No sorry, not tonight’. The kid replied with ‘Go on, its not gluten free, so only you and I can eat it anyway.’

Oh, you poor misinformed and cheated wee bairn. Mission accomplished, sorry kiddo but it is GF and the Yak will probably fight you to the death for the leftovers.

We take our bumble seriously in this household.

YOU NEED

1 bunch rhubarb, chopped into 2cm lengths
2 tbls coconut sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 cup raspberries (frozen or fresh, blueberries are yummy too)
Crumble topping:
100g buckwheat flour
50g almond meal/flour
60g cold butter, chopped into small pieces
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/4 cup walnuts or pecans, finely chopped

METHOD
Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Place the rhubarb, coconut sugar and vanilla paste in a medium size saucepan, add a few splashes of water. Cook on low to medium heat for about 20 minutes, until the rhubarb starts to collapse. Stir regularly to avoid the rhubarb sticking. Add a bit more water if needed.
Once the rhubarb is cooked, stir in the raspberries and place into a buttered 1 litre ovenproof dish.
Mix the buckwheat flour and almond meal in a medium size bowl.
Rub the butter through the flour mixture with your fingertips until the mixture resembles pea sized chunks.
Mix the coconut sugar, baking powder, spices and walnuts in a small bowl.
Add the sugar mixture to the flour mixture, stir and sprinkle over the fruit.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
Serve with a big dollop of yoghurt, ice-cream or cream. This also makes a great breakfast dish served with yoghurt.

An original Cheergerm recipe