In New England, the celebrations surrounding the 4th of July are palpable; parades, center of town concerts, strawberry shortcake festivals. Weeks in advance, the white clapboard houses lining the proverbial main street, north street and south street don their festive regalia in preparation for independence day celebrations. Flags and buntings unfurl from their wintry storage places, with a brisk dusting off, they begin to don the front porches and entryways of various houses. Planters and hanging baskets begin to fill with red white and blue petunia or begonia and window boxes are outfitted with miniature flags on little gold-capped wooden sticks, the very same that line the brick pathways leading from street to the front doors of many houses this time of year. While the 4th of July conjures this very specific imagery, it celebrations also manifest in the form of backyard picnics, cookouts and potlucks.
This recipe is the result of one of those happy accident moments. The kind where you set out with one intention and are left with an entirely different (read not bad, just not expected) result. What started as a batch of scones, somewhere along the way lost its true scone-ness and became instead this equally good but different skillet cake. The very first round wasn’t good exactly but it held the promise of possibility and to my mind that warrants, if nothing else, at least another try. You see, I’m a big believer in happy accidents, in leaving room for magic and the promise of possibility, both in life and in the kitchen. It is precisely the potential in these between spaces that keep the everyday interesting, exciting and fresh. If I don’t leave space for the unexpected or what I more fondly prefer to think of as an everyday sort of magic I find that is when a staleness creeps in and a rigidity of routine and shortsightedness creeps in. This quickly becomes stifling and a vicious cycle which leads to nowhere except feeling uninspired and not being able to see the elegance in the everyday. And so back to our skillet cake. No, it did not turn out to be a batch of scones and yes the first incarnation of the batter was, quite frankly a runny, gummy disaster, but I baked it anyway and tasted and what I found was that I loved the flavors and the hearty delicateness of the cake. There was spark of something there, a hit that something more was possible, and so a few tweaks and few more tests and this lovely rhubarb skillet cake became something all its own.
It’s perfect to use up the glut of rhubarb this time of year and a lovely fluffy breakfast or brunch dish (of course you could serve it with fresh berried and a dollop of cream for dessert too) sort of thing. It comes together incredibly quickly with rather little effort, especially if using a food processor. But, you don’t need one to make it. And as it bakes the smell fills the kitchen and permeates the rooms beyond adding only to the magic of these brightly light spring mornings
Breakfast Rhubarb Skillet Cake
- 2C | 250g flour
- 1/4C | 65g sugar
- 1 TBSP baking powder
- 5 TBSP | 74g butter
- 1 C |150g Rhubarb – sugared with scant 3 Tbsp / 35g
- 1/2 C + 1T buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla
- demerara sugar or other course grained sugar for sprinkling over the top plus a Tbsp or so extra buttermilk (optional)
- preheat your oven to 425F/ 220C
- grease a 9″ pie dish or round baking pan, line the bottom with a circle of parchment.
- Slice rhubarb stock into 1/4″ or so discs and toss with the 3 T | 35g sugar
- in a food processor or large bowl combine the flour, 1/4C|65g sugar, baking powder, butter. Pulse together until the texture of peas and turn out into a large bowl. Do not over work, some chunks of butter is ok. If doing it by hand, rub butter into the flour mixture with the tip of your fingers.
- toss the rhubarb with the flour and mix to coat well. make a well at the center of the dry mixture and add in the buttermilk. Stir to combine, then add the egg lightly beaten and vanilla. stir until everything is just combined and turn out the mixture into the baking pan
- with the back of a spoon spread mixture evenly in the pan and score crosswise about 6 times
- Brush the top with a little extra buttermilk and sprinkle with demerara sugar
- Bake 30-35 mins
It’s no secret that I favor effortless everyday essentials in my home and in my wardrobe. Nor is it that I prefer a few stylish, practical and comfortable pieces – give me a good white button down any day! – over a wardrobe crammed to the gills with items rarely worn or too particular.
These preferences coupled with the rather demanding daily requirements of my career as photographer, recipe developer, stylist – mean I want items in my closet that are functional and layer seamlessly with one another. I like lots of choice from just a few items, and those pieces must also be chic and polished. I want pieces that look elegant and make me feel that way, even when Im elbow-deep in a bucket of flowers in a warehouse at 5am.
Naturally, I was thrilled to learn about J.Jill’s collection pieces. Each month just a few pieces are released and in turn those pieces compliment the rest of the line. I like to think of them as elevated pieces for my capsule wardrobe. April’s collection pieces could not be better timed as I look to reinvigorate my wardrobe. I will be adding a key piece or two that I know will carry me through this season of transition here in New England and through the entire spring. As a company with its roots in New England, J.Jill seems to perfectly understand the need for versatility in a spring wardrobe with easy essentials, perfect for layering on and off as the temperatures spike and dip. J.Jills style is versatile, a style for life and their pieces gracefully help me shift into the spring season.On a particularly brisk morning recently, I made an early run to the flower market in search of blooms to fill the city cottage ahead of the weekend. And while I knew rows of stunning blooms would be there waiting, there is nothing like spring flower season, I also knew it would be quite chilly. I popped on the Tab Sleeved Top from J.Jills recently released April collection and donned an extra layer in the Drawstring Jacket (love its many pockets!) and headed out in search of a few bundles of flowers.
Give Away is now closed. Congratulations to the winner of the give aways Sonya. J.Jill is generously providing a $300 gift card to one luck reader. To enter please leave a comment below telling us what essentials you love for Spring. (Open to legal US residents only) winner will be chosen at random in one week. In addition, a small donation has been made to the J.Jill Compassion Fund which that helps support community-based organizations who assist disadvantaged and homeless women on their path to self-sufficiency.
This post is in partnership with J.Jill. All thoughts and opinions are my own
“Well thats a sure sign of spring” the woman uttered as, unloading my basket, I handed her a fistful of slender bright pink rhubarb stalks. And its true, rhubarb is perhaps the one thing that emphatically signals the transition into the spring growing season. That, and possibly fiddlehead ferns, the elusive (once wild grown only, now cultivated) foretellers of spring’s arrival in New England. So in fact, my clutch of rhubarb really did warrant the elated, if not somewhat surprised response from the woman at the market.
Rhubarb, I have found, is also one of those items a bit like cilantro, either loved or hated. I fall unequivocally into the yes, can’t get enough rhubarb camp. In sweet or savory (see my rye berry salad with pickled rhubarb here) its equally austere and unique with a flavor that can’t really be nailed down but you know it when you taste it. Eyes closed, I would always know its was rhubarb. continue reading
This year, spring has been slow in coming and only just now is it beginning to show itself. The slightest hints are trickling in at the markets, tucked amongst the wintry root vegetables are a few tender green stalks of asparagus and the brilliant pinky reds of slender rhubarb. But even still, as these items shyly make their way to market, there is snow on the ground and low digits temperatures awaiting us each day. Winter’s persistence has me reluctant to shun it’s comforting meals just yet but I do so long for those first few tastes of spring. So, I’ve folded the two seasons into one to create the recipe below – A spring green bread salad. It ticks all the boxes, fresh and light with distinct flavors of the new season and a nourishing hearty backbone. This delicious backbone comes from one of my favorite foods, really beautifully made bread. Give me all the crisp crusts and invitingly chewy centers and I couldn’t be happier. La Brea Bakery breads, with their Big Sky Montana grown single origin wheats and stunning sourdough starter create some truly wonderful artisan breads. And their Reserve sourdough demi-baguette was the perfect choice for this recipe, crisping up beautifully in the oven. La Brea Bakery breads are consistently delicious and accessible nationally (something else I love!) and they have been using the same starter since 1989. Look out for their new Reserve breads like the sourdough in this recipe at Krogers Markets specialty cheese counters – distinguished cheeses and artisan breads in one place, yes please. Find out more here & look for a little coupon too! continue reading
Valentines day tends to be a blur of petals, paper and chocolate. And so, years ago we decided to take the mania out of the day and try to really embrace the true sentiment of it all – a sentiment that at its core, without all the fluff and pink and red ribbony, is genuine. It is a unique moment each year to celebrate one of the sweetest delights of the everyday, love. Not the ambiguous, cerebral sort, but the specific, deep down sort of love that is given freely and wantonly. For us, valentines day has become a moment to pause and make an effort to give ourselves over to just being together, intentionally making space to honor that everyday love that we have built together over the last twelve years. Of course, it could be said that this should be done everyday, and I do agree, but life is messy, complicated, quick and does not always lend itself to acts of celebrating. So really, I embrace this as time to stop and celebrate, enjoy and revel in the love part. We try to spend the most amount of time together in one of our favorite places, doing something that we enjoy and elevating it just a bit to feel celebratory – this inevitably means time together in the kitchen. We have cooked some incredible meals over the past decade (a seriously gorgeous cioppino in SanFrancisco and handmade pizzas on the grill in a New England snow storm may top the list) and have had more fun than we ever did rushing to reservations at overly crowded, maxed out restaurants. continue reading
Cauliflower is often on the menu here. In fact, it is rather affectionately nicknamed – “the king of vegetables” if that gives you any idea how much love there is for cauliflower in our kitchen. And this roast cauliflower with capers and jalapeno is one of our go-to meals. A simple one pan dish (little cleanup = always a winner ) its a meal that is satisfying on those cold wintry nights and not so time-consuming, i.e. perfect to be made on a weeknight. It fills the house with warming aromas and is good at chasing those chilly empty spots from the belly that always seem to creep up in subzero temps.
I’ve collaborated with Farmhouse Pottery for a giveaway to celebrate the start of the festive season and all those rituals, traditions and celebrations that go along with it. These last few years have marked the inception of yearly traditions of my own. With more than one holiday spent away from New England and extended family, I have had the occasion to distill down what it is I love most about the traditions I have been celebrating nearly all my life. It is no surprise that food and the preparation of a few particular family recipes are at the core of those things I hold dear. Both preparing and sitting down at the table with them marks the passage of another year – of both growth and change but also constants and a certain steadfastness. This time away has been a chance to incorporate those things I love most about celebrating and those which have made the days feel most festive to me.While New England is the provenance of my design sensibilities, I have taken bits and pieces, collecting them as I go, from everywhere I have lived and traveled. Ideas and inspirations for colors, textures, celebratory dishes and sensibilities. My appreciation for design has developed into a deep love of paring the old with the new in an organic and authentic way. I love the welcoming and satisfying look it creates, and the points of interest and discovery that naturally follow for those who interact with the design.
The first holiday I ever spent away from New England was with my now-husband & youngest brother. Just the three of us. And while we didn’t really have an agenda for the day, other than to relax on our one day away from work, I knew I wanted there to be a beautiful table. This idea of the table has become central in the creation of my own yearly traditions. It relish the creation and setting of the table each holiday – it has become something of a ritual right of the holiday in my festive celebrations. I was working full-time as a florist then and so spent the better part of a week combing the flower market, in addition to my regular client shopping, looking for just the right greens and peachy golden hued china mums go with the topaz & platinum flame stitch linen I had chosen from a rental company for our dinner. To this day, I still love the way that table turned out , but more importantly I love the memory of the three of us gathered around it in the kitchen of our tiny San Francisco apartment on Christmas Day chatting, eating and laughing so hard our bellies ached. When it comes to design and decor (and really every aspect of my life) I prefer to let the architecture of space and the quality of a few simple pieces be at the center of the design conversation. I find it helps create a calm welcoming environment, especially around the chaos of holidays. I apply this paired back approach to everything from wardrobe to decor to interiors to table design. I have such an affinity for how striking one strong concept or visual statement can be. Over the summer I had the opportunity to visit the lovely folks at Farmhouse Pottery and a chance to see the charming new Woodland Forrest collection; stunningly simple, with sculptural modern lines but all the heritage charm of handmade pieces. I was completely smitten – individually each tree is unique, as only a handmade object can be and I adore that beautifully organic quality they, quite literally, bring to the table. Completely inspired, I started imagining the desing for a beautiful winter table right then and there on the floor of the Farmhouse Pottery studio way back in July. Once I knew that I wanted to build a design around the Woodland Trees, I next chose the linens. Remembering that table all those years ago in San Francisco, I picked a patterned cloth, and neutral charcoal blue napkin. For all the complexity of the tablecloth, I still wanted the table to feel simple and balanced. I chose the pattern because I thought it was reminiscent of those bone-chilling swirling snowy New England winter nights and would look elegant next to the fire for our intimate dinner in the library. Using heritage flatware and plates I added just a sprig of seeded eucalyptus and two splendidly long tape candles into the mix. I especially love the subtle visual contrasts of the different trees and they way the ridges capture and reflect the candlelight. I have a particular fondness for balsam woodland trees and their strong architectural detail and love the strong lines they create. Instead of using flowers of greens, I added subtle texture and a bit of visual contrast with the addition of the wooden carved trees – they are great visual structure for the table.
These beautifully crafted Farmhouse Pottery Woodland Trees are certain to feature prominently in the making my own modern heritage and traditions for years to come. This Giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to the winner Kelliann Arakawa
Giveaway details : You have the chance to win a Farmhouse Pottery gift bag containing Balsam ceramic and Evergreen wooden Trees – 5 pieces combined! To enter: Just comment on today’s Instagram post telling us your favorite festive tradition. Open to U.S. residents only. Ends 12/14/17. Winner will receive his or her gift bag within two weeks of the giveaway closing date.
this post is sponsored by Farmhouse Pottery. All opinion are my own.