This month for our Instagram cookbook club, we are devouring ‘Gjelina, Cooking from Venice, California’ by Travis Lett. I tend to have apprehensions embarking on cooking from a book based on a restaurant’s dishes. …
I won’t apologize for the amount of rhubarb recipes I am posting. Rhubarb is such a glorious, yet humble fruit/vegetable.
And the tartness that it imparts to recipes is the perfect foil for the simple sweetness of what it is usually paired with.
I’ve been making this pastry/tart/strudel for years now. It’s a given that as soon as rhubarb starts showing up at the markets, this tart will make an appearance. As much for the fact that I get to bake with rhubarb, as for the frangipani layer that lies beneath the fruit. Isn’t frangipani glorious!? That lovely blend of whipped butter, sugar, eggs, and almond meal. A fluffier, softer version of marzipan. I’ve joked that I make this tart as much for the final result, as for the frangipani itself- I’ll just take a spoon as eat it out of the bowl. Don’t go freaking out that I eat raw egg, I eat raw beef (organic of course) as well, and I haven’t keeled over yet, or inherited some bizarre bug or parasite as the result.
And it’s really much easier than it looks. This is one of those recipes where the visual is half the experience. And because you start with ready made, store bought puff pastry it’s a breeze to pull together. I remember once a chef on tv in an interview said, “Even we chefs use store bought puff pastry. Don’t go nuts trying to make your own. Unless you have too much time on your hands.” Or in my humble opinion, are Martha Stewart! Really, when someone asks me if I make my own, my eyes practically glaze over. No, I have no one to impress, I don’t make my own. I get it, you will learn how to make it attending culinary school, and it is a skill that must be mastered (if you’re going to be a pastry chef, which most of us are not!) and yes, if you have nothing else to do, go ahead and make up a batch. But I won’t be impressed that you did!! I’m not trying to sound ornery. It’s just that if the puff pastry available at the grocery store is good enough for a trained professional, it’s good enough for me. There, I’m done!
So yes, this ‘turnover’. You’re really assembling, and faux braiding. Once you’ve spread a layer of frangipani, and then the macerated fruit on top, down the middle of a puff pastry rectangle, you are simply criss-crossing strips that you’ve cut on either side of the rectangle. Once you’ve done this all the way down, it looks like a braid, and that’s it. I was curious why it is called a ‘Jalousie’. So I googled it. Dictionary.com told me it is a ‘noun: 1. window blind or shutter constructed from angled slats of wood, plastic, etc. 2. a window made of similarly angled slats of glass. Word Origin: from Old French gelosie latticework screen; literally: jealousy, perhaps because one can look through the screen without being seen.‘ I can see this definition working for this pastry: the criss-crossing can create the effect of the louvres or slats on a window blind.
I can’t believe I am writing this recipe out for everyone, on a snow day in April. Yes, we get snow in April. Toronto has such a fickle time with Spring. I think we all get so frustrated, because of the extreme cold temps we need to bear in Feb and March, that we are truly desperate for Spring. And when we see photos of cherry blossoms etc up all over North America, (even our western province of British Columbia had their blossoms a month earlier, let alone the pansies etc that they had by the beginning of February) we feel left out! And then there’s the fact that we are just plain tired of wearing black stockings, winter boots, black, grey and brown. We want to embrace pastels like everyone else. Even in small doses, hehe.
So try this out, and let me know how it worked for you. And feel free to change it up a bit once you’ve tried it with the strawberry rhubarb filling. I’ve used other berries, plums, fresh apricots etc. In the end, you could say it’s similar to a really long Danish pastry! Here’s to Spring fruit, and hopefully Spring flowers in Ontario soon 🙂
Update: So I baked this up again today (April 8, 2017) and made a few changes. I decided I would make a smaller version that would basically feed 4, or provide Jim and myself a couple of pieces each. I used one sheet of puff pastry, thawed and unrolled it out. I didn’t roll it past the size it came as (basically 10×11 inches or so). I cut the recipe below in half, adding some chopped fresh mint and thyme, and filled as per usual. It turned out perfect for us. So if you follow this adjustments you will have the perfect mid week treat. Or something to go with coffee.
Strawberry Rhubarb Jalousie
A lovely turnover/danish pastry filled with almond frangipani and fresh fruit.
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1/8 tsp pure almond extract
- 1/2 cup AP flour
- 1 1/2 cups ground almonds
- 1 14 oz (390 g) block or puff pastry or 2 sheets of frozen puff pastry, thawed in both cases
- 1 cup rhubarb chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 cup strawberries chopped into small pieces
- 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar or any granulated sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 5 dashes rhubarb bitters
- 1 egg for egg wash
- 1 tbsp sliced almonds for topping
- icing sugar for dusting
Make the Frangipani:
Cream the softened butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Add the almond extract.
Add the flour and ground almonds and mix well. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350F
Combine the rhubarb and strawberries in a bowl. Combine the sugar, cinnamon and bitters in a small bowl. Pour evenly over the fruit and stir to combine. Set aside.
On a well floured piece of parchment paper cut to be at least 20x13 inches (place this on your counter so that the shorter ends are up and down when you look at it) roll out the pastry to approximately 15x9 inch rectangle. It should be oriented in portrait, or with the short ends at the top and bottom. It should fit nicely inside the parchment paper
If you are using sheets of puff pastry, line up the longer edges of the two sheets to slightly overlap by 1/2 inch or so. The seam should be in horizontal position when you look down at it. Press down firmly to seal the seam. You won't need to roll these two, as they are now more than large enough.
Spoon the frangipani down the middle of the pastry. It shouldn't be wider than 2.5-3 inches. See Notes below.
Spoon the fruit on top of the frangipani.
Make incisions on either side of the filling on a slight angle (see photos) , stopping short of the filling itself, each cut about 1 inch apart. You should have strips about 2/5 or so inches long and 1 inch wide.
Fold the top fringe across the fruit on a slight angle, pulling gently to cover the fruit. It should just start to meet the other side. But don't force it further. As long as it covers the fruit, you're good.
Fold the opposing fringe over this one, creating a criss cross, pressing gently into each other, so that they adhere.
Continue on till you have reached the end. Press the top and bottom ends tightly and under to seal them. Brush away any excess flour from the parchment paper.
Gently transfer the pastry to a baking sheet, using the parchment to carry it over. The parchment can remain on the baking sheet.
Egg wash the entire pastry, trying to avoid pulling out any fruit juices.
Sprinkle with the almond slices.
Bake until golden, about 30-35 minutes. Don't be eager to remove too early.
Cool and then dust with icing sugar.
I have been making this recipe for years, and have not idea where the recipe came from (before the days of Pinterest!)
As per my photographs, I only spoon enough of the frangipani and fruit that seems reasonable for the size of pastry I have rolled out. If it seems unreasonable to use all that you have prepared, don't use it all in one jalousie. It will just ooze out between the 'braid's'. Better to be reasonable when spooning it out, and then have a bit leftover to use elsewhere, than trying to stretch the pastry too thin to cover over it.
I find that there is always extra frangipani filling! If you have extra fruit, just make a second jalousie! Two is better than one, right?! I would just go ahead an make a second one- breakfast the next morning 🙂
Or store the frangipani in the fridge and make tarts later in the week. Just make or thaw frozen mini tart shells. Par0=-bake 15 minutes after thawing. Then fill with frangipani and top with more fresh fruit. Just remember that frangipani grows, so you don't need to overfill. 1/3 of the tart is more than enough. Then bake till the shells have finished baking, about 20 more minutes.
When Spring appears, then rhubarb isn’t far behind. Growing up, we had a rhubarb patch in the garden.
I was always mesmerized by those huge leaves, that were almost big enough to be an umbrella (to an eight year old, anyway!) My mom explained to us, that the leaves were bad for us, but that the stalk (or whatever German word she used for stalk) is what we could eat. Well, ever the impatient one, I would just plop myself on the ground and pull a stalk out of the ground, shake the dirt off, and bite it. The first time I did this, I was not happy!! It was so tart! Like biting into a lemon. I guess I made a face, and everyone had a good laugh. That’s me, provider of free entertainment.
But it’s funny, I quickly got used to the tartness. Didn’t mind it all that much. So, that was not my first attempt at eating a stalk of rhubarb from the ground. Of course, when it was brought inside to the kitchen, chopped up, and stewed with a bit of sugar and cinnamon, I could agree that my mom might have something there. Even better! haha.
I think rhubarb got a bad rap for a while. Kind of a weed, it seemed more a poor man’s vegetable or fruit (yes, it is actually a perennial vegetable, but in the 1940’s, because US customs officials said since this foreign plant was used mostly in desserts, it would be classified as a fruit! Plus they could demand more tariffs at the border for fruit coming in!) The only time you’d see it in menus or offered at the dining table, was in a pie, mixed with strawberries. It seems like this is the only way North Americans knew how to prepare it. But it has a long history and is prepared in many different ways all across Europe and Asia, even in savoury dishes.
We grew up most often having it stewed or turned into a compote. My mom would cut the stalks into one inch pieces, and place them in a pot with some water, sugar and cinnamon. It doesn’t take long for the rhubarb to break down and turn the water a lovely shade of rose. We would get a small bowl and eat our rhubarb like soup. (But then again, we loved turning most things into soup, i.e.: ice cream! We were weird) It also made its way into German tortes (they don’t really make pie the way we know it) and I wouldn’t have been surprised if my uncle (who was a chef) would use it in sauces over meat dishes.
These days we are seeing a total love affair with rhubarb again. It’s showing up in salsas, chutneys, vinaigrettes, glazes over pork, even pickled. I love the sound of all of them!!
Rhubarb pairs beautifully with strawberries. But it also works well with rosewater. So, if you have a bottle of rosewater lurking about, this is a wonderful time to pull it out. It’s such an easy stew to whip up. You can make it in advance, and store it in the fridge for breakfast, or even a lovely dessert. I’ve served this over yogurt flavoured with cardamom and clove, and over vanilla ice cream as well.
And for today’s post, I’m showing how I served it for breakfast: over grits! Yes, you read correctly, grits. These are not your mother’s grits. This is probably more like polenta. Either way, corn is NOT involved. I don’t do well with corn. I like it, but it doesn’t like me. Very hard to digest. I will eat cornbread…and pay the consequences. But when I was introduced to ‘I Heart Umami’ and this recipe for savoury grits using almond meal, I was thrilled. ChihYu treats the almonds just like hominy grits or polenta meal, and prepares it the same way. I used trustworthy Bob’s Red Mill almond meal, and turned out beautifully. So, if cooking it savoury worked so well, I thought, why not turn this into a sweet version? So I used almond milk instead of stock or water, and lightly sweetened it with coconut palm sugar and a touch of cardamom. Oooh, I was in love with something so simple as mushy almonds! And the perfect pillow for my rhubarb recipe. And now that we have a lovely alternative grits or polenta recipe, the toppings and additions are endless. Expect to see me use it again. I hope you try this out. And check out ‘I Heart Umami’ for more fabulous paleo ideas as well 🙂
Stewed Rhubarb over Almond 'Grits'
A beautifully fragrant, lightly stewed rhubarb and strawberries over a fresh take on grits: almonds with a touch of cardamom and sweetened with coconut palm sugar
- 2 medium stalks of rhubarb cut into 2 inch pieces
- 3-4 strawberries slicely thickly
- 1/3-1/2 cup sugar per your tastes
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp rosewater you can replace this with cinnamon if so desired
- 4-5 dashes rhubarb bitters
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups almond milk
- 1 1/3- 1 1/2 cups almond meal depending on how thick you would like your 'grits'
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp coconut palm sugar to taste
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1/2 tsp anise seeds
Bring the water and sugar to a boil. Stir and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the burner.
Add the vanilla and bitters and return to the burner. Cook for one more minute.
Add the rhubarb and strawberry slices. Stir to cover well. Remove from the heat and cover. Let it sit for about 3 minutes.
Add the lemon juice and rosewater. Let sit out for 15 minutes, or until cool enough to store in the fridge till needed.
When ready to use, remove from the fridge and let return to room temperature. Spoon over your desired base: polenta, ice cream, yogurt, grits, etc. If the space is not thick enough for your liking, you can reheat at medium high heat and cook to reduce the liquid slightly.
For the Grits:
Bring the almond milk, salt, sugar and cardamom to a boil in a medium pot.
When boiling, add the almond meal in a stream, whisking all the while to avoid lumps.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to stir until it begins to thicken, about 10-15 minutes.
Remove from the heat. As it cools, it will continue to absorb more liquid.
When ready to serve, divide the grits between two bowls, and spoon the rhubarb and syrup over the grits. Sprinkle with anise seeds for both a crunchy and light liquorice scented garnish.