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Blood Orange Rhubarb Crumble

I’m a big fan of crumbles.  By definition, a crumble is a fruity pie-filling like base with a brown sugar/flour/butter top crumbled over it.  These are frequently made with apples, oftentimes referred to as crisps.  Whether you call it a crisp or a crumble and whether you fill it with berries or rhubarb, they’re just so delicious.  This one was no exception.  I set out to make a rhubarb crumble for a nice dinner this weekend.  Usually with rhubarb pies and crumbles the rhubarb is paired with a citrus juice, typically lemon or orange.  So I was so excited when I got to the grocery store and saw blood oranges.  I thought, how perfect!

Unfortunately when I got home the reality hit that the produce sorters at the market needed to reevaluate their process.  All three pieces of fruit I purchased labeled “blood orange” were in fact, not.  Just regular oranges.  Luckily for me I had some blood orange juice in the fridge, so all was not lost.  Though in the future I may pick out my citrus a little more carefully.  A blood orange is an orange with a bright red center, a mutation of the sweet orange.  Because of this it is beautiful, a little sweet, and the perfect compliment to the tart flavor of the rhubarb.

I also learned from Nigella Lawson (via Deb of Smitten Kitchen), that adding a little baking powder to the topping of your crumble increases the crumble to fruit ratio without having to up the butter content, which was exactly what I was looking for.  It was yummy, beautiful, and the perfect way to welcome in March.  Which, it turns out, is not the same thing as welcoming spring.

Blood Orange Rhubarb Crumble

filling:

5-6 rhubarb stalks

2 blood oranges

1/4 cup sugar

3 tbsp corn starch

1 tbsp orange zest

topping:

1/2 cup oats

1 cup flour

1 stick butter, melted

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp orange zest

Clean and chop your rhubarb.  Place in baking dish.  Add the juice from 2 blood oranges.  Add zest, sugar, and corn starch.  Toss.

In a separate bowl combine melted butter and all other topping ingredients.  Stir.  It should be solid and clump together and on your spoon.  Use your fingers to crumble over the top of the fruit.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.  Serve with ice cream.

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Bobbie’s Rolls

This past weekend I took a trip to Durham that I’d been planning for months.  You see, Paula Deen was coming to the Durham Performing Arts Center.  I know that everyone has mixed feelings about Paula Deen but y’all, I find her completely entertaining.  And that’s what she is, an entertainer.  The show was pitched as her and her sons, Jamie and Bobby, telling stories and cooking food with too much butter.  So my mom, my dear friend Megan, and I got tickets and we were SO PUMPED.

You know where this is going.  If you follow me on twitter you’ll have seen the disappointed tweets I sent out into the universe after she up and cancelled her whole east coast tour.  Her excuse was something to do with a lousy production manager and not wanting to put on a sub-par show but frankly, after driving all the way to North Carolina to see her, I would have taken anything.  I was devastated and angry and might not even watch her show for a while.  I won’t go so far as to cut butter out of my diet, but I am definitely not pleased.

With or without Paula I had other things planned in Durham, so I made the trek down.  It was a great weekend full of lots and lots of margaritas, a few photoshoots, so much gossiping and catching up that I lost my voice, and time spent with some of my favorite people.  I got to partake in some of my favorite Durham activities, try some new restaurants, and take in the 70 degree weather (which, after all this damn snow, felt like heaven).

My mom convinced me to stay an extra day so I got back Monday night and much of yesterday was spent grocery shopping, editing photos from the aforementioned photoshoots, and recovering from the aforementioned margaritas.  Which means that last night we dined on leftover turkey soup and some of my grandmother’s rolls.  These are the perfect dinner rolls, fluffy and warm and ideal for paring with soups, stews, and butter.  Butter that I will not be dedicating to Paula Deen.

Bobbie’s Rolls

1 cup whole milk

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp vegetable shortening

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1 egg, beaten

2 cups bread flour

1 tbsp butter, melted

Scald the milk.  Stir in sugar, salt, and shortening, remove from heat.  Allow to cool to lukewarm.

Dissolve yeast in warm water.  Stir into milk mixture.  Add in egg.  Stir in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough forms.  Knead 10 minutes.  Form into a ball.  Grease a bowl and place the dough in, flipping once.  Cover and let rise 1 hour.

Cover a baking sheet in parchment paper.  Divide the dough into 8-10 pieces.  Form a ball by pinching the dough at the base of the ball so the top is tight.  Cluster dough balls together on the baking sheet.  Cover and let rise another hour.

Brush the tops with melted butter.  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.

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Truffled Mushroom Grits

I mentioned last year that while we don’t do much for Valentines Day, we do a little something.  I like to cook dinner and surprise Dan with a fun dessert.  Nothing big, it’s mostly sentimental because our first Valentines Day as a couple was the first time I got the courage to tell Dan (in writing) that I wanted to spend my life with him.  It was a big deal, complete with out of season sunflowers that he spent a fortune on and a nice dinner.  I like to keep the tradition going (sans expensive flowers), so this year we dined on red wine braised short ribs, truffle infused mushroom grits, and a creme brulee (my first, a check off the life list).  It was lovely, romantic, and totally delicious.

I decided I wanted to do short ribs pretty early on because I think that food is its sexiest when it is fall off the bone good.  Flavor that is rich and deep and makes you close your eyes while you enjoy it is way more appealing than any number of the things that I’ve seen served on this most “romantic” of holidays.  The last time I made these short ribs I served them with my potatoes au gratin but we’ve been a little potatoed out lately, so I thought I’d go towards another member of the starch family, the grit.  I opted for mushrooms because I use them with the ribs and because they give a great woody, earthy flavor to the grits.

I hate writing about food in the context of romance because everything you say about really intense food also makes for innuendo, double entendre, and overall gutter brain.  Which may be why so many television food personalities make me uncomfortable.  It’s hard to talk about how good food can be without it coming off a little naughty (I’m looking at you Giada.  And you too Ina).  To be fair to the dish though, there is something sensual about a good meal.  The way it warms you up, makes you feel like it’s hugging you?  In my mind there are the kinds of good foods that you say wow! this is delicious, I love taco night and the kinds of good foods that make you close your eyes, tilt your head back, and groan.  For the sake of keeping it PG you should bug your eyes out like Paula Deen does every time she tries something good.

Anyway, this post is quickly making me uncomfortable so I’ll cut it short by saying this- these grits are awesome, you should try them.  And now that Valentine’s Day is past, you can make these anytime.  Grits are for lovers, but also for weeknights.  And I hope you had a happy Anna Howard Shaw Day.  And that you’re enjoying the snow, if you’ve been getting it.  Unless this apocalyptic weather has you freaking out, in which case totally call me because DUDE ME TOO.  I think I need to buy snow pants.  And boots.  And a shovel.  And plane tickets to Costa Rica.

Truffled Mushroom Grits

2 cups water

2 cups milk

1 cup grits

2 tbsp butter

4 pieces of bacon

1 cup button mushrooms

3 tbsp white truffle oil

1 tsp salt

1 lemon, juiced

Bring water and milk to a boil.  Stir in butter and salt.  Stir in grits, cover, and drop to a simmer.  Cook on a simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick.

Cook your bacon, and set it aside.  Reserve 1 tbsp grease.  Combine with 1 tbsp truffle oil and set the pan over medium heat.  Saute mushrooms until brown.  Stir the  mushrooms, their juices, and the remaining truffle oil into the grits.  Stir in the lemon juice.  Serve.

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