Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Rhubarb when raw is so tough
And its leaves contain poisonous stuff,
But when cleaned and de-soiled
Dipped in sugar and boiled
Then the stalks are quite tasty enough.

— “The Rhubarb Compendium”

Tomorrow’s special treat: Rhubarb Custard Upside Down Cake

Monday, May 30, 2011

Rhubarb Cherry Almond Crunch

Rosemary Borgert often served this sweet attractive dessert during rhubarb season. The recipe was passed down from her mother, Marie (McDonald) Borgert. CJK

Rhubarb Cherry Almond Crunch
 (Rosemary Borgert)

1 cup quick oatmeal
1 cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter

4 cups rhubarb, diced
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tbsp. cornstarch
Red food coloring, optional
1 tsp. almond flavoring
1 can cherry pie filling
1/2 cup nuts, chopped, optional

Whipped cream

Grease a 9x13-inch glass pan. Mix the ingredients for the crust together and press half of mixture into the bottom of the pan. Put the rhubarb on top of crust.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Boil the sugar, water, and cornstarch together until thick. Add a few drops of red food coloring (if desired), almond flavoring and pie filling. Spoon the mixture over the rhubarb. Sprinkle the remaining crust mixture over the top and then the nuts. Bake for 45 minutes at 350°F. Serve with whipped cream.

Yield: 12 servings

A note from Carol: See another of Rosemary’s recipes, Strawberry Bundt Cake, posted May 5 on “Food, Faith and Fellowship.”

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fruit or vegetable?

“Rhubarb is usually considered to be a vegetable; however, in the United States, a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the United States as a fruit it was to be counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties. A side effect was a reduction in taxes paid.”
— Wikipedia

Tomorrow’s special treat: Rhubarb Cherry Almond Crunch

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Got rhubarb?

Rhubarb season is here. Its vigorous voluminous leaves and sturdy pink, red or green stalks conspicuously announce that summer is on its way. According to “The Rhubarb Compendium” this member of the dock family has been used in medicines and folk healing for centuries, restores a shine to burned pots and pans, dyes light-colored hair a deeper shade of gold and creates an effective organic insecticide.

Earliest records of the plant date back to 2700 B.C. in China where it was cultivated for medicinal purposes, primarily its purgative qualities. Due to its acerbic taste, rhubarb was not considered a food item until sugar became affordable to the common people. Its use as a comestible was first recorded in 17th century England. By the end of the 18th century, these tart stems were increasingly featured in puddings, custards and crumbles.

This cool season perennial, rich in vitamin C and dietary fiber, was nicknamed “pie plant” soon after its introduction to North America. It is extremely winter hardy and resistant to drought. Rheum rhabarbarum’s steadfast crop is produced from crowns consisting of fleshy rhizomes and buds.

As William Woys Weaver mentioned in his book “100 Vegetables,” “rhubarb is one of those plants that absorbs the flavors of everything mixed with it without enhancing its own, so it must be used wisely in any recipe where additional fruit is called for. When used sparingly, red currants will bring out the flavor of rhubarb more than any other fruit with which it is cooked.” 

This week “Food, Faith and Fellowship” is planning a “rhubarb compendium” of it own with a few quips and tips — and recipes, of course, featuring this beloved and versatile fruit. CJK

— “The Rhubarb Compendium,” “The Origins of Fruits and Vegetables” by Jonathan Roberts and “100 Vegetables and Where They Came From” by William Woys Weaver

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake Pops

Photo by Sharyn Resvick

“Eat Me” urged the small colorful signs stuck in the chocolate covered cherry cake pops and balls. How wonderfully Wonderlandian, I thought. I didn’t really need the invitation — I couldn’t have resisted them anyway. I had sampled Kristi Anderson’s cake-on-a-stick creations before and “felt time stand still” while savoring her rich truffle-like bonbons.

Kristi made these memorable cake balls,  some drizzled with white candy coating, for the MADD Hatter’s Tea Party May 7 and, in keeping with the distinctive theme, named them “Chocolate Covered Toadstools.” She concocted another variety for the event as well — petite orbs on a lollipop stick — carrot cake and cream cheese frosting dipped in orange candy coating called “White Rabbit Carrot Cake.”

What’s next for Kristi in this gourmet nibble-of-cake realm? She’s pondering lemon cake pops with cream cheese frosting and yellow coating rolled in toasted coconut or poppy seed for a refreshing summer version of this ever-so-tempting treat. For her dad’s upcoming birthday she’s dreaming up morsels using with his favorite cake — chocolate with homemade peanut butter frosting and chocolate coating topped with crushed peanuts. She’s also contemplating pops of German chocolate cake with coconut pecan frosting and chocolate coating finished with flaked coconut and chopped pecans.

Go ahead. Let your own confection imagination soar — there’s no end to the cake bite varieties that are waiting to be discovered (and devoured). CJK

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake Pops
(Kristi Anderson)

1 pkg. (18 1/4 oz.) devil’s food cake mix
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cup water
3 eggs
Photo by Angie Fracassi
1 jar (10 oz.) maraschino cherries without stems, well drained
1/3 cup liquid from maraschino cherries
1/4 cup cherry preserves
1 can fudge chip frosting
4 lbs. milk chocolate candy coating, chopped
2 tbsp. shortening
Plastic fork

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 13x9-in. baking pan.

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, oil, water and eggs. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds with electric mixer, and then beat on medium for 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Bake at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely.

Place cherries in a food processor; cover and process until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a small bowl; stir in the liquid from the cherries and preserves. Crumble the cake into a large bowl. Add the frosting and cherry mixture and beat well. Shape into one-inch balls.

Melt candy coating and shortening in microwave and stir until smooth. *Dip balls in chocolate mixture and allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper; let stand until set. Store in airtight container overnight before serving.

Yield: 6 dozen

A note from Kristi: I adapted this recipe from one titled “Cherry Cordial Cake Balls” published in the April/May 2011 edition of “Simple & Delicious Magazine.” The original recipe called for a fudge marble cake mix, brandy, brewed coffee and chocolate frosting. *One tip I learned from that article is to break out the middle prongs on a plastic fork and use the outer prongs to hold the cake balls while dipping them in the candy coating.

A note from Carol: Kristi, an enterprising cuisinière, has a flair for spotting culinary trends and cooking up scrumptious adventures. It’s been fun to share some of her innovations in the flourishing bite-sized cake movement popularized by Angie Dudley of Bakerella fame, Clare O’Connell and others.

I’ve relished every moment of online research pertaining to these dainty delights — like the cake pops themselves, it’s difficult to stop at just one website. You’ll discover that, too. For starters, visit Veronica Miller at Recipe Rhapsody, The Kitchen and Jaden Hair at Steamy Kitchen.

By the way, have you seen Kristi’s recipe for Chocolate-Peanut Butter Stuffed French Toast posted on Food, Faith and Fellowship Feb. 26, 2011? Check it out, too. As you can imagine, it’s sweeeeet!

Kristi created these tasty cake pops in March and shared them with colleagues 
in our building. She experimented with cheesecake, carrot and chocolate cakes 
and a variety of frostings, coatings and toppings. (Photo by Sue Schulzetenberg)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lemon Macaroons

Photo by Angie Fracassi

For me, these delightful citrus-flavored cookies succinctly capture the taste of spring. Inspired by the arrival of this long-awaited season, and Paula Deen, one of her best-loved TV cooks making a similar sweet treat, Jenna Vavra created these ambrosial lemon macaroons for the MADD Hatter’s Tea party May 7. She called them “Queen of Hearts Lemon Tarts” for that special occasion. Macaroons are one of her mother, Diane Rieger’s, favorites. What a nice touch for the weekend of Mother’s Day! CJK

Lemon Macaroons
(Jenna Vavra)

Photo by Sharyn Resvick
2/3 cup flour
5 1/2 cups flaked coconut
1/4 tsp. salt
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon extract
Zest of 1 lemon

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, coconut and salt. Open the can of sweetened condensed milk and stir in the vanilla, lemon extract and lemon zest. Pour milk mixture onto dry ingredients and mix, using your hands, until well blended. Cover bowl and place in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (or aluminum foil that is greased and floured.)

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake at 350°F for 14 to 18 minutes — the coconut should be toasted and the edges golden. Remove cookies immediately from the baking sheets. (Macaroons will stick if allowed to cool on the sheets.) Cool them on a wire rack. Store loosely covered at room temperature.

Yield: 2 to 3 dozen, depending upon size of cookies

A note from Jenna: It’s important to refrigerate the dough — it helps the cookies retain their round shape and not spread while baking. A small ice cream scoop worked well for dropping the dough onto the baking sheets. A 14 oz. bag of coconut equaled 5 1/2 cups.

A note from Carol: It’s a joy to share another of Jenna’s recipes in Food, Faith and Fellowship. You might remember her Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake featured in the Feb. 22, 2011, post. This busy young mom loves to cook, bake and develop new recipes, which she shares from time to time on her own innovative blog — “jenna knows best!”

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A MADD Hatter Tea Party…

Photo by Sharyn Resvick
My friends, Pam and Sharyn, and I had so much fun at the “MADD Hatter Tea Party” May 7 at the Lake George Municipal Complex in St. Cloud! It was a kick-off event for the “2011 St. Cloud Walk like MADD 5K” Aug. 27 at Warner Lake Park near Clearwater, Minnesota.

Jenna Vavra, Julie Blank and the other members of the planning committee took their hat-clad “guests” on an enchanting trip to Wonderland with their creative theme. The party room was brightly trimmed with ever-so-imaginative decorations — from stacks of mismatched teacups, saucers and teapots and oversized playing cards on the table to huge pink flamingos and gigantic card soldiers adorning the walls to colorful round paper lanterns and lovely large flowers hanging from the ceiling.

Photo by Sharyn Resvick
The festive buffet of treats included several fancifully named bite-sized morsels such as Queen of Hearts Lemon Tarts, Dormouse Mousse Melts, March Hare Brownie Hops, Chocolate Covered Toadstools and White Rabbit Carrot Cake. Aptly encouraging signs printed with the words “Eat Me” were generously scattered among the treats. A silent auction featuring a potpourri of enticing items, bake sale with teapot-shaped cakes and “melt away” cookies and the door prize of an enormous teacup planted with sweet alyssum and pansies extended the motif of the magical world where Alice visited.

This cleverly designed fundraiser also relayed a thought-provoking message. Jenna and Julie spearheaded this Mothers Against Drunk Driving event to educate others about the organization and its mission — to stop drunk driving, support the victims of this preventable crime and curtail underage drinking.

Both women have lost a loved one in an accident involving a drunk driver. Andrea Rieger, Jenna’s 28-year-old sister, died 11 years ago in Montana when a drunk driver crashed into the car she was driving. And, Julie, the founder of “St. Cloud Walk like MADD,” lost her 13-year-old daughter, Krysta Jo Mozena, a passenger in a similar incident near Annandale, Minnesota, in 2006.

Photo by Angie Fracassi
Jenna is the team captain of “Andrea’s Alliance,” a group created in memory of her sister with the purpose of raising money to donate to MADD. The tea party, one of the recipients of a Pay It Forward grant from The Visitor during Lent, netted $640 for the “St. Cloud Walk like MADD 5K.”

To join a walking team for the Aug. 27 event or make an online donation, visit www.walklikemadd.org and click on “St. Cloud.” Checks may be sent by mail to: MADD MN, 155 S Wabasha St., Suite 104, St. Paul, MN 55107, with “Andrea’s Alliance” in the memo line.

Please check in again in the next few days. Recipes are forthcoming for the lemon macaroons (a.k.a. Queen of Hearts Lemon Tarts) and cake pops (a.k.a. Chocolate Covered Toadstools and White Rabbit Carrot Cake) served at the tea party. CJK

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

“There is an instinct in a woman to love most her own child — and an instinct to make any child who needs her love, her own.”

— Robert Brault

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Raspberry Walnut Torte

My mother, Orpha Prather, made this wonderful raspberry walnut torte for special occasions when we were growing up. I remember her baking it for members of her book club when she hosted the group at our house or for a distinctive dessert at other social or family gatherings. It’s one of my all-time favorites! 

Mom remembers that the recipe came from a Pillsbury Bake-off Cookbook. I checked online to see if I could discover more of its history. While I didn’t locate the name of the bake-off winner who created it, the words “a ruby red dessert that will become a treasured recipe” were included with the version I found. I remember that phrase from the original recipe and couldn’t agree more!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! CJK

Raspberry Walnut Torte
(Orpha Prather)

1 cup flour
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup powdered sugar

1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen red raspberries, thawed and drained (reserve the juice)
3/4 cup walnuts
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs

Raspberry sauce:
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup water
Reserved raspberry liquid, about 1/2 cup
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Whipped cream or ice cream

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine the crust ingredients and press the mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 9 x 9-inch glass baking dish. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. When cool, spoon the berries over the partially baked crust and sprinkle with the walnuts.

In a small bowl, combine sugar, 1/4 cup flour, salt, baking powder, vanilla and eggs. Beat on low until well blended. Pour the mixture over the walnuts. Return to the oven and bake for another 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares when ready to serve.

In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch; add water and reserved raspberry liquid. Heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and clear. Stir in the lemon juice.

Serve warm over torte squares topped with whipped cream or ice cream.

Yield: 9 servings

A note from Carol: If the raspberry liquid does not yield 1/2 cup, add water to it until it measures that amount.

This dessert, including the sauce, can be made a day ahead of time. Warm the raspberry sauce before serving.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Forever and always

“Mothers hold their 
children’s hands 
for a short while, 
but their hearts 

— Anonymous

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Strawberry Bundt Cake

This beautiful pink cake — rich in sweet fruit flavor — is perfect for springtime! It was one that Rosemary Borgert made often. It’s an honor for me to share it in her memory.

Rosemary was well known and well loved in the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota. She worked in various positions in the diocese from 1962 until her retirement in 1998. Serving as director of the Communications Office for 26 years, she was instrumental in producing the weekly televised Mass for 30 years and wrote and recorded “Interview,” which was published in The Visitor and broadcast weekly as “Conversation.”

Volunteering with Global Volunteers and the Godchild Project, she made a number of trips to assist people in Guatemala and Jamaica; tutored English in Indonesia, India and Mexico and was active within in her parish community of St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud.

In a Jan. 4, 2001, story in The Visitor, Sister Nancy Bauer, who is concluding a six-year term as prioress of St. Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minnesota, June 5, and former editor of The Visitor, remembered Rosemary, saying “I often thought of her as the spiritual mother of the diocese. People would stop in to her office and she’d give them a little spiritual uplift. She dispensed spiritual wisdom.” CJK

Strawberry Bundt Cake
(Rosemary Borgert)

1 pkg. white cake mix (without pudding) 
1 (3oz.) pkg. strawberry-flavored gelatin
3/4 cup cooking oil
4 eggs
2 tbsp. flour
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen strawberries, thawed
1 cup chopped nuts, optional

Whipped cream
Fresh strawberries

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour bundt pan.

Mix all ingredients (except the nuts) together. Then, beat for two minutes at high speed and one minute at medium speed. Gently fold in the nuts.

Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 45 minutes at 350°F or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cool it in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove it from the pan and fully cool it on the rack.

Serve the cake with whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

Yield: 12 to 16 servings

A note from Carol: Substituting each of the strawberry ingredients with a raspberry equivalent creates another fabulous variation of this sweet treat!

The recipe also makes great cupcakes. Bake them in a preheated oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Cool them in the pan on a wire rack for about 5 minutes before removing to completely cool on the wire rack.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Support like none other

“A mom reads you like a book, and wherever she goes, people read you like a glowing book review.”

 — Robert Brault

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mom’s Special Lemon Bars

My friend Sheila Ballweg-Pulju shares this treasured recipe for lemon bars today in honor of her mother, Genevieve (Stamm) Ballweg. Sheila and her sister, Gayle Coles, have been baking this easy recipe, which teases taste buds with its refreshing tart flavor, for more than 40 years. It brings back special memories of their mother making it for family gatherings or social events when they were growing up in Langdon, North Dakota. Both Sheila and Gayle were teachers, following in the footsteps of their mother, who taught third grade at St. Alphonsus Catholic School in Langdon for several years. CJK

Mom’s Special Lemon Bars
(Sheila Ballweg-Pulju)

3/4 cup graham crackers, crushed
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup flour

1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp. lemon zest, optional

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix the crust ingredients together and press 3/4 (or all)* of the mixture into a 9 x 9-inch ungreased glass baking dish.

Mix the filling ingredients until smooth and spread evenly over the crumbs. *If some of the crust mixture is reserved, sprinkle the remaining crumbs over the lemon mixture before baking.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350°F. 

Yield: 16 to 20 bars

A note from Sheila: These bars freeze well. I especially like to eat them when they are cold or half frozen.

A note from Carol: Sheila is such a good cook and baker! We’ve had a lot of fun sharing both recipes and meals together over the years. To see a couple more of her recipes, visit Food, Faith and Fellowship’s archives: Bittersweet Chocolate Truffle Tart (Feb. 7, 2011) and Red Velvet Cake (Feb. 13, 2011).

Monday, May 2, 2011

A gift from above

“God could not 
be everywhere 
and therefore 
he made 

— A Jewish proverb