3-Ingredient Solution: Strawberries & Rhubarb

rhubarb-marketBy Dame Judy Hevrdejs

There’s a good reason strawberries and rhubarb show up in farmers markets and grocers these days. They ripen about the same time and the tart rhubarb plays nice with sweet strawberries. The easiest way to enjoy them? A strawberry-rhubarb sauce that needs only one more ingredient: sugar.

Spoon the sauce over ice cream or thick slices of pound cake or angel food cake. You can also layer it with vanilla wafers and vanilla pudding, then chill  before serving.rhubarb-pudding2

Here’s a very flexible recipe. Cut rhubarb in bigger chunks? No problem. Up the amount of strawberries a bit? Not a crisis. How much sugar you use, though, will depend on the berries’ sweetness and how you plan to use the sauce.

If paired with sweet cookies (vanilla wafers, gingersnaps) and a sweet pudding, you should cut back on the sugar a bit to keep the tart-sweet balance. Or keep it sweet, as we did, when we layered sauce and vanilla wafers with some thick, plain Greek yogurt for a sweet, tangy, tart dessert.rhubarb-3items

3-Ingredient Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce

Makes:  About 3 cups sauce

1 pound fresh rhubarb,  8 to 10 stalks

1/3 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar, about

1 pint fresh strawberries

  1. Rinse rhubarb. Trim stalk bottoms and any leaves off the top. Cut in 1-inch chunks. You should have 3 1/2 to 4 cups chunks.
  2. Place rhubarb, sugar and about 3 tablespoons water in a saucepan or deep skillet. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally (8 to 10 minutes). Watch carefully so mixture does not burn; add another tablespoon of water if mixture dries out too much.
  3. Wash strawberries, remove stems and halve. When rhubarb begins to soften and break down, add strawberries. Cook another 5 minutes until berries soften but somewhat chunky.
  4. Remove from heat. Check tart-sweet balance. Adjust sweetness if needed. Cool. Store in the refrigerator. Photos by Judy Hevrdejsrhubarb-sauce


3-Ingredient Solution: Ina’s Potatoes

By Dame Judy Hevrdejs

When life seems to be one big time crunch, great do-ahead recipes are lifesavers. Especially the easy ones.  And definitely the ones made with just three ingredients — except for, say, salt and pepper — that work especially well when you have guests arriving for brunch.

It’s a recipe such as Ina’s Potatoes from Dame Ina Pinkney’s cookbook, “INA’S KITCHEN: Memories and Recipes from the Breakfast Queen” (Agate Publishing). I always loved these when I ate at her restaurant. And I love them now because they are so easy to make.  And while russet, purple and yellow potatoes may grab your attention at the market,  Ina calls for red potatoes, which have thin skins and a waxy character, that work best in this recipe, a perfect, 3-Ingredient Solution. 

Ina’s Potatoes

2 pounds red potatoes, washed, cubed

1/4 cup heavy cream (aka whipping cream)

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons each: kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper

Bring 6 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil. Add potatoes; cook for 10 minutes. Potatoes will be very firm. Drain potatoes. Cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Combine remaining ingredients with potatoes, coating potatoes well. Refrigerate, covered, at least 12 hours. Mix several times while chilling. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spread potatoes in a single layer on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and tender, about 25 minutes.

— Adapted from a recipe by Dame Ina Pinkney’s INA’S KITCHEN: Memories and Recipes from the Breakfast Queen” (Agate Publishing).

3-Ingredient Solution: Beets

By Dame Judy Hevrdejs

Farmers markets won’t head outdoors for several weeks, but there are lots of indoor farmers markets in the city and suburbs.  At Green City Market, currently inside the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum until May 5, we picked up beets from Nichols Farm & Orchard (nicholsfarm.com) — enough to roast for one meal with a few left for another. We have a couple 3-Ingredient Solutions, of course. Yes, just three ingredients — beyond salt and pepper — can turn beets into a savory side or colorful salad.

Want to take it up a notch with a few more ingredients? Try Dame Joan Nathan’s Moroccan Beet and Orange Salad from her cookbook, “King Solomon’s Table.”

But, you grumble, beets are a pain to prepare. Well, not really. And, we always prepare enough for two different dishes. So give beets a chance.

Prep: Remove leaves and trim stem ends of each beet. Put in a pot that’s big enough to hold the beets plus water to cover them. Over high heat, bring water to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce heat to medium-high and cook 45 minutes to 1 hour. Keep tabs on the cooking and reduce the heat if the liquid starts bubbling a bit too much.

When beets can be pierced easily with a fork, they’re done. Drain off cooking water. Run cold water over them. When cool enough to handle, trim  ends. Skins should slip off easily, but you can help things along with a small knife. Rinse. Beets are ready to eat as is. If you made more than you can use at once, store extra in a food-safe container, refrigerate and use a few days later. A couple options?

3 Ingredient Solution

Roast ’em: Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Cut cooked beets into large chunks. Cut a peeled, trimmed yellow onion into quarters. Arrange beet chunks and onion quarters on the prepped baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Use your fingers or a kitchen brush to help coat the vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees F. until edges begin to brown and crisp, 20-25 minutes. (Got dried herbs? Sprinkle with basil, oregano or thyme before roasting).

Photo by Judy Hevrdejs

Dress ’em: Cube beets, add to a pile of salad greens and drizzle with a favorite vinaigrette. (Got goat cheese? Crumble some atop the salad).

Something special:A few more ingredients  transform those beets into a Moroccan Beet and Orange Salad that Dame Joan Nathan includes in her latest book. Nathan roasts the beets to tenderize them, which you can do, of course. But we used our boiling-water cooked beets with delicious results.

Dame Joan Nathan’s Moroccan Beet and Orange Salad

Makes: 8 to 10 servings

6 to 8 medium beets

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 to 3 navel oranges

Juice of 1 lemon

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste

Salt and freshly ground pepper  to taste

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped green pistachios

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Rinse beets; rub with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Wrap in foil. Put on a baking sheet and roast about 1 hour, until tender when poked with a fork. When cool enough to handle, peel beets. Cut into bite-size pieces.
  2. With a sharp knife, cut off tops and bottoms of oranges. Slice off the peel and white pith. Cut in between the white membranes to extract individual segments.
  3. Mix lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Whisk in extra-virgin olive then toss with beets. Let sit a few hours at room temperature. To serve, add orange segments and sprinkle with parsley and pistachios.
Photo by Judy Hevrdejs

Curious Kitchen: Our Cookbook Picks

By Dame Judy Hevrdejs

So you weren’t gifted a great cookbook this past holiday season. Not to worry. There are always new ones to try, maybe Brindisa: The True Food of Spain by Monika Linton, or Valerie’s Home Cooking, by Valerie Bertinelli.

Chicago Dames love cookbooks. Many also write them. Dame Carol Mighton Haddix asked them to share their favorite cookbook. Here’s just a taste:

Nancy Brussat, proprietor of Convito Cafe & Market, cited The Classic Italian Cookbook by Marcella Hazan “to explore in depth one of the recipes I learned from my Italian mentor.”

Nina Barrett, owner of Bookends & Beginnings in Evanston, calls this her “workhorse cookbook,” Williams-Sonoma Soup of the Day: 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year. Said Barrett: “It never fails to address a lot of my urgent culinary needs.”

Rebecca Wheeler, cooking instructor and food tour guide, mentioned her well-worn copy of an Indian Cookbook, ‘5 Spices, 50 Dishes, by Ruta Kahate, “that I turn to again and again. The flavors are complex and authentic.”

What is your go-to cookbook?

The 3-Ingredient Solution: Smoked Trout Spread with Horseradish

by Dame Judy Hevrdejs

Do recipes with 10-plus ingredients stress you out? I know they can for me. Don’t stress. You need “The 3-Ingredient Solution.” Yes, just 3 ingredients (plus a little salt, freshly ground black pepper and herbs to taste) that’s easy to make and great for parties and potlucks — like this Smoked Trout Spread.

10 ounces smoked trout or 2 smoked trout fillets, about 8 ounces total

1 cup sour cream or creme fraiche

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

Skin trout. Break and flake it into a bowl. Toss out any big bones. Stir in sour cream and horseradish.  Add freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sea salt, if desired, to taste. Blend well with a fork. Serve with dark bread slices like pumpernickel or sturdy crackers. Makes about 1 3/4 cups. P.S. Go artsy with a sprinkling of chopped, fresh dill.

— Adapted from a recipe by Dame Carol Mighton Haddix “Chicago Cooks” (Agate Press).