Saturday, May 02, 2009

Why Julia Child doesn't have to worry about me stealing her job. Wait. Is she still alive?

Updated to add: (I keep updating a lot lately. Clearly I need to put more thought into my posts and not be quite so trigger-happy on the "publish" button.) An e-mail from someone asking how I adjusted the recipe to change it from an 8x8 pan to a 13x9 pan was the lightbulb moment I needed regarding the problem with this dessert. I doubled everything but the rhubarb!! See? Seriously, Julia Child, rest easy.


I hosted our end-of-the-school-year PTO thank-you party at my house yesterday afternoon. The idea of the party came from the PTO president, as a way to show appreciation for all the moms and dads who worked so hard at the elementary school this year on various committees and fundraisers.

The idea to make it a dessert buffet? All mine, baby.

I figured this was a great chance for me to try Smitten Kitchen's Big Rhubarb Crumb Cake recipe, since heaven knows I've been yammering on about how great it was all week. I was a little worried when I had such trouble finding rhubarb, and then a little annoyed to see the plant, which you purchase by the pound, consisted primarily of leaves.

And yes, I understand the concept of paying for produce items you'll never use .... the peel of a banana, the stems of the grapes, etc .... but when I realized that even by weight, I was throwing away over half of what I paid for ... well, I starting thinking I might try the recipe with fresh blueberries next time.

Anyway! Complaining about Extreme Produce Challenges aside, I was excited to make the cake and share it with my friends. I took pictures throughout the process to share here on the blog .....

But during the process, I noticed that my rhubarb filling didn't look quite like Smitten Kitchen's. I assumed it was because I underestimated the weight (more specifically, underestimated the weight of the leaves!) and less fruit meant my filling was runny. Which in turn, meant I didn't have enough to completely cover the bottom layer of cake. Which in turn, meant the middle of my cake was a little soggy and didn't bake up quite as fluffy as the parts around the edges of the pan.

Had I been sitting in the living room, with a spoon, and the pan on my lap (not that I would know anything about THAT -- ahem) it would have been smooshy and melty and perfect. But since I wanted to slice it and serve it on plates, it made a difference. Only the outside of the cake was serve-worthy. And still didn't have as much rhubarb as it needed.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the recipe -- the dessert tasted fine -- just a learning curve for me for next time, no biggie.

This morning I was writing down my receipts from last week in my checkbook and I noticed the receipt from when I bought the rhubarb. Although, closer inspection revealed that apparently, I didn't buy rhubarb --- even though it looked just like the red celery that Deb used and I bought it from a bin clearly marked "rhubarb".

According to the produce receipt, I bought swiss chard.

Which is a beet.

A beet that looks strikingly like rhubarb, as best I can tell.

Which means, in a nutshell, I served my friends pieces of runny beet cake.

Something tells me I won't be asked to host again next year.

Kristie: "Blaine, would you please cut up the rhubarb for me?"
Blaine: "What the hell is rhubarb?"
Kristie: "I don't know, but I've been told it looks a lot like swiss chard."

Ok, seriously. Can anyone who knows the difference tell me which one this is?

Well, at least I didn't mess up the cupcakes.

The beet rhubarb cake, fresh out of the oven. You can see I didn't have enough beets fruit in the middle and my second layer of cake came up through the crumbly goodness.

Banana pudding. Gag.

Death by Chocolate. Yum!

The beet rhubarb cake, cut into pieces. I can tell just by looking that I needed a lot more of whatEVER it was I put in the middle.

The table. The empty spot in the middle was for my friend's brownies that she was bringing. Please also note the bowl of fruit on the back of the table, which I set out simply to be polite, and which some freaks moms actually ate instead of dessert.

Proof that I am a real cook.


Jeanette in GA said...

Probably the cashier at the store rang it up wrong as swiss chard...that is one of those unusual produce items.

Lucy and Ethel said...

Well, I have no clue what you used, but it all looked great!

And I'm now starving....


Anonymous said...

That is definitely rhubarb in your photos. Just use more next time in your recipe.

Pam D said...

It all looked good to me, although I won't get close to rhubarb. Something about the word (and the fact that my uncle thought it would be funny to tell me that raw rhubarb was delicious, and then laughed his behind off when I tasted it). That death by chocolate looks absolutely delish!

Alisa said...

After I stopped laughing I realized, You had some of this last night and I did not eat any. (is there any left, and can I run over and get some?)
I thought it was delish at the party.
So sad that I did not eat seconds last night. Not that I needed anything else to eat.

JoAnn said...

I agree - that is rhubard that you used, so you can rest easy you didn't serve beets. Maybe you should contact Smitten and find out if you missed a step. I hope mine turns out all right... I have a while before I can try that recipe, as the rhubarb isn't ready for picking yet.

Maureen said...

Hi Kristie,
I definetly looks like rhubarb in your pix, but red (Swiss) chard does look very similar. One of the big differences would be that rhubarb leaves are toxic, and chard you can use as salad greens. You can check out the difference in pix on Wikipedia. Rhubarb has a long red stem with leaves on the top, and chard has a red vein/stem running though, like romain lettuce. You final product still looks yummy though!
And yes, Juila is no longer with us, but I am a professional pastry chef, and I'm not worried about any competition from you ;)

deb said...

I'm sorry, this totally cracked me. I've always thought that rhubarb looks SO MUCH like red Swiss chard stems, but fear not, unless you had giant dirty green leaves at the end (which often taper into the stems, whose red parts are rarely as long as most rhubarb stalks), you probably walked out with the right stuff. I hope you have better luck next time! And that you at least picked some crumbs off the cake.

Natalie said...

Everyone is right--that was definitely rhubarb and the cashier just made a mistake. And believe me, no matter how much sugar you put on it, if you'd cooked with Swiss Chard, you'd KNOW!

The Running Girl said...

OH MY! That Death by Chocolate looks amazing. Please share the recipe. YUMMMMMM!

Anonymous said...

I happened to be looking through the OSU-OKC Farmers' Market web site and noticed that they have fresh rhubarb in April, May, June and September. Maybe that will help you for next time.

Nate's Mom said...

This was such a cute story. I love reading your blog; never know what to expect.

I just posted my 100th blog (after 2.5 years). Please stop by and say hello. I'm hoping (begging) for 10 comments. Scroll down to 100th Post. Thanks! Have a fun weekend.

Sheri in CA

Xander said...

There is a variety of swiss chard called Rhubarb:

This is normal rhubarb:

This is swiss chard:

Silia said...

I was reading your side bar, it's "Monsters vs Aliens". Just so you know and can fix. thx@

theothermother said...

I eat a lot of swiss chard and that's not it. The stalks are much flatter. I agree with everyone who suggested that the cashier made a mistake. I hope it was in your favor.

Nate's Mom said...

Thanks for visiting my blog and asking a question. I have posted the first round of responses :-)

Also, I went grocery shopping today and when I got to the register, the cashier asked me, "are these sugar snap peas or snow peas?" I thought of you and your rhubarb, lol.


Anonymous said...

I almost pee'd myself reading this. You are soo damn funny. Rhubarb cake does not do anything for me but I do LOVE banana whatever it was you made and also the chocolate thingy looked awesome.

Anonymous said...

I wanna come to any party you are throwing. Oh and I wouldnt have touch the rhubarb/beet cake so I would never had known it was wrong.

Please share the death by choc. recipe.


DivaDunn said...

Too funny! BTW - you can usually find rhubarb in a bag in the frozen fruit section and save the prep work.

Karen - Mommy to four sweeties said...

You are too funny!

Anonymous said...

You very well may be the funniest person on the planet...or at least in OK. You make this stuff up right?

Trish in Leesburg, VA said...

ok what is the death by chocolate recipe??!?!?!

Tracey in Calgary said...

Definitely rhubarb :-) We eat loads of it up here in Canada, it grows like crazy in our should grow your own! Then you just take it in at the end of the summer, chop it all up and freeze it. Try making strawberry rhubarb crumble, sooo yummy, especially with hot custard over the top :-) Oh look, if you google it, you find one from Smitten Kitchen!
ps PLEASE, I must have the recipe for Death by Chocolate!!!