Balsamic Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

This evening, I’m meeting with a group of amazing women who work in various realms of the sustainable food movement. We meet for monthly potlucks, and needless to say, there is a serious intimidation factor as this a gathering of highly accomplished cooks.

I decided to bring one of my favorite springtime desserts to share – strawberry-rhubarb crisp. I’m generally a sucker for anything strawberry-rhubarb, and last year started experimenting with the addition of balsamic vinegar to this dynamic flavor duo. I was inspired by Bi-Rite Creamery’s fabulous balsamic strawberry ice cream; added balsamic to my strawberry-rhubarb jam (let me know in the comments if you’d like the recipe) and now, its made its way into the crisp. Try it at home – I bet you won’t be able to stop eating it once you start! And of course this is an easy kid favorite – a low sugar dessert with tons of flavor.


Crisp Topping (use on a variety of fruit crisps)

Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Deborah Madison

Put 6 tbsp of cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch chunks, into a bowl. Add 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup chopped nuts (or 1/2 cup oats only), 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 grated nutmeg and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon if you like (I opted out for this crisp.) Using your fingers or the paddle attachment on a stand-up mixer, work the butter with the rest of the ingredients so that each piece is coated and a coarse mixture forms (you shouldn’t see chunks of butter, about 2-3 minutes).

This makes enough for one 8×10 or so crisp. I usually double the recipe and freeze the extras – crisp topping is great to have on hand.

Balsamic Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

Makes one 10×13 inch crisp

Preheat oven to 375°

Wash, dry and hull 4-6 pints of strawberries. Chop berries into quarters and add to shallow baking dish. Chop 8-10 rhubarb stalks into 1/2 inch pieces and add to berries. Combine with 3-4 tbsp of cornstarch (to thicken the juices) and 1/3 – 1/2 cup of sugar (depends on sweetness of strawberries. I like to use turbinado/raw sugar). Add in 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Be sure all ingredients are well mixed and distributed throughout the baking dish. Top with crisp topping and bake for about 50 minutes.

I am waiting until the party to taste how it came out but it is extremely tempting to sneak a bite now!

Kale Chips

On my quick farmers’ market run yesterday afternoon, I spotted kale chips selling for $5 per small bag. Which got me thinking…. raw kale goes for about $1.50 a bunch this time of year. And while the packaged version was quite a fancy food product, mixed with a vegan cheese and apparently shelf-stable, homemade kale chips sure are a delicious and seriously guilt-free addiction. Provided you don’t eat too many in one sitting, as I have certainly known to do!


Serves 4-5

Preheat oven to 350°

Remove kale (I prefer to use dino/lacinato kale but others work just as well) leaves from stems: I find the easiest technique for this is to fold the kale in half lengthwise, and cut along the center stem. One cut should remove leaves on both sides.

Rinse well and dry. Tear or cut the kale into chip or bite-sized pieces. Toss well with (extra virgin) olive oil and (sea) salt. Transfer to a lined baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes, taking care not to burn the edges.

Add further seasonings of your choice – chili powder and lime comes to mind. Substituting tamari soy for sea salt is delicious, especially with a sesame oil and sesame seed combo.

Enjoy immediately as a snack or side dish – but remember, pace yourself!

Asparagus Pesto

The emergence of spring vegetables at farmers’ markets – fava beans, peas, and most of all, asparagus – brings to me a renewed inspiration for cooking which is much appreciated after the relative monotony of winter fare. As the first asparagus made its way home recently, I was reminded of a dinner a good friend hosted for me and my girls last year around this time. He treated us to an asparagus pesto pasta, developed by Mark Bittman of the New York Times, who happens to be one of my favorite chefs/food activists. At least I saw it as a treat – the kids, definitely not (I recall being grateful, though a bit embarrassed to be asking for, plain noodles).

It is totally delicious, takes less than a half-hour from start to finish, goes great with a glass of crisp white wine and makes for wonderful leftovers. Sadly, it remains unappreciated by the younger set in our household but hopefully we’ll have better luck next time.


Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings (about 1 1/2 cups).


1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch segments

1 clove garlic, or more to taste

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/4 cup olive oil, or more as desired

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

Juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste.

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Add the asparagus and cook until fully tender but not mushy, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well, reserving some of the cooking liquid, and let the asparagus cool slightly. (If you have a slotted spoon, use that to take out the asparagus and reserve the cooking water for making the pasta)

2. Transfer the asparagus to a food processor and add the garlic, pine nuts, 2 tablespoons of the oil, Parmesan, a pinch of salt and a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Process the mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary, and gradually add the remaining oil and a bit more of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten if necessary. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste, pulse one last time, and serve over pasta, fish or chicken (or cover and refrigerate for up to a day).

Melt-in-your-Mouth Yeasted Waffles

Our family likes waffles but we rarely go through the trouble of making them from scratch. Who really has time to whip egg whites early in the morning, with hungry kids nipping at your heels? So we used to rely primarily on a good whole grain mix or tinker with a pancake recipe to make things work. But this usually results in a dense “healthy” tasting version that, as Ava would say, “is not my favorite.”

Enter the yeasted or raised waffle. A while back, we were served waffles like I’ve never tasted before at our neighbor’s house. When I asked her to disclose the trade secret behind such goodness, she mentioned they were “yeasted”. For some reason, it took me a few years to actually seek out a recipe – and as it turns out, they are a classic, from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook which I happened to have on my shelf as part of my vintage cookbook collection (total volumes at press time: 3). They are super easy – mostly made the night before which means you can whip them up even on busy weekday mornings, are a hit with kids and parents alike, and have the most unbelievably scrumptious texture. Light as air is beyond trite but I can’t think of a more apt description.


Adapted from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, Eleventh Edition

Prep time: 10 minutes

Yields 6 Belgian-style large waffles

Note: the original recipe calls for white flour and 1/2 cup of butter. For a healthier version, I substituted fine whole wheat flour (white whole wheat works great) and made the waffles with 1/4 cup melted butter and 1/4 cup flaxseed oil.

Put 1/2 cup lukewarm water ((100-110° if you are curious what lukewarm means here) ) + 1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast in a mixing bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Add 2 cups lukewarm milk, 1/4 cup melted butter, 1/4 cup flaxseed oil (or other flavorless vegetable oil), 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon sugar.

Beat in 2 cups whole wheat flour.

Cover the bowl. Let stand overnight or at least 8 hours (but NOT in the refrigerator).

When it is time to cook the waffles, add 2 beaten eggs and a pinch of baking soda. Beat well. The batter will be VERY thin! Cook with a waffle iron and top with berries, marscapone and maple syrup (as shown) or any other favorite.