(PRiMO Strawberry Ancho Preserves + Giveaway)


I took a deep breath while standing at my kitchen sink this morning after doing the breakfast dishes. One boy ate leftover blue cornmeal pancakes from yesterday morning, and the other several leftover rolled up crêpes spread with an iteration of Megan Gordon's chocolate-hazelnut spread. My timing was on. It was 7:15 and everything was cleaned up.  I had my pre-measured coffee beans in the grinder and ready to brew, 2 hours before I usually even think of making my coffee.  Not taking into account the time needed to dress myself appropriately, I feel like I'm getting this.  My new life is about to start and I have one last week of daily homelife to myself before embarking on this new adventure, new chapter in my life.  Before it all begins for real.

As this space where I collect my kitchen life felt slowly more and more neglected, I have found all the words pouring around in my head.  A food blog is no place to recount the details of broken hearts, and lives forever and irrevocably changed.  Or maybe it is.  The truth of it all is that the broken bits of my life that have suddenly arranged themselves into a brand new pattern, one I probably would have never put together myself, but also intricate enough that I know the Almighty power behind it all: the One pushing me out and into a place that might feel foreign and uncomfortable.  A brand new normal with all of the knowledge of the past decade to back me up.

I hesitate to go into detail. Every relationship that comes to an end has moving pieces and two sides to the story. But my conscious is clean. It's the only path through that I could see. For the immediate time being, I'll move through life once again a single person - albeit one with two boys in tow. The inner workings of a girl who has spent 10 years cultivating a home, growing boys and plants, becoming a preserver, a baker, a writer are tough to separate and sift out. I continue to struggle with the feeling that my life, the essence of my personhood, is changing. I'll no longer measure my days with sourdough feeding and line dried clothes. But the slow timing in so much change has convinced me that it is, after all, only change. I'm going to stand at the helm of my kitchen with less time, but never without homemade bread.  I will still be me, just with a little less time.

Meanwhile, I have been wordless at the outpouring of support from the people in life that have graced me with their friendship. There have been quick notes from those in my tribe, the Internet friends that are real and living and aren't at all hollow and dismissive, and there have been too many coffee beans dropped at my doorstep to count. I am bolstered by support of people who get what it is to be forced into so much change, those who have been through something similar themselves, those whose voices echo that yeah it is hard, but you are able and that trials in life are not purposeless. Those that remind that something good will come again and that it really is an adventure to find out just what that will include.

image from PRiMO

image from PRiMO

I wondered if this was the right post to include my review of PRiMO's new Strawberry Ancho Preserves, and offer up a jar to give away.  I mean really.  Life changing, deep sorrowful stuff, written with total ambiguity?  But it can't be any other way.  Somehow all the little pieces of this gigantic puzzle also include this small company, and their truly homemade jams.  Somehow them sending me a jar in the mail (and they have IMPECCABLE packaging which always makes me smile even wider) for me to give my honest opinion of made me feel validated as a small time food writer and recipe developer. 

This jar was bright and warm, not spicy really - but like the blend of chiles only added to the "strawberryness" of the strawberry.  I originally thought that I'd come up with something complicated to showcase it, a mole maybe or a marinade for meat.  But then I realized that complicated is just not what I do anymore.  I make scones instead of croissants and other laminated doughs. I make a big pot of dal and we eat it for days in a row instead of cooking every night. And this special jar of jam fit right in with the timing of my life which I am ever so mindful of right now. It is perfectly enjoyable on a spoon, in plain yogurt, on toast. It complements all the most comforting things, because after all it is strawberry jam and strawberry jam is king of the jams. And royal jam is meant to be eaten so that you can really taste it.

strawberry-ancho ricotta

Crêpes might seem like a luxury, but they don't actually take too much time - especially if you mix the blender batter in the evening and let it laze about in your refrigerator for a couple of days.  They actually only improve with time. When you get to making the actual crêpes, layer them on a large dinner plate with a square of waxed paper between each and let them cool completely before stashing them in the fridge. Covered well with plastic wrap, you can get another 2-3 days storage out of them.  Don't worry if you need a bit of practice to get nice, round crêpes, all of your practice is edible.

Crêpes with Strawberry-Ancho Ricotta

for the crêpe batter (Alton Brown's is best in my book):

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 c. ap flour
  • 3 T. melted butter
  • 1 T. granulated sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend well.  Transfer to a wide mouth canning jar and let rest at least 1 hour and up to 48 hours.  (Stir gently to recombine if resting for a long time.) Cook the crêpes using a scant 1/4 cup batter in a nonstick skillet, using a brush of butter after each one. (If you want to use them for savory purposes, omit the granulated sugar and vanilla.)

Strawberry-Ancho Ricotta

Mix 2 parts premium ricotta cheese (homemade ricotta would also be stellar) to 1 part PRiMO Strawberry Ancho Preserves in a bowl. (6 T. ricotta and 3 T. preserves makes enough to fill at least 6 crêpes.)

Spread the preserves/ricotta mixture evenly on a crêpe and fold in half and in half again. Melt a little butter in a skillet and gently fry them on both sides until browned and crispy around the edges. Dust with powdered sugar and do eat with mint leaves if you have some growing as I did.

crêpes with PRiMO

The generous folks at PRiMO have offered up a jar of this new release Strawberry Ancho to one lucky reader! Please comment on this post with a simple but favorite food that brings you comfort and inspiration before midnight next Friday (May 6th, 2016) and you might find a jar in your mailbox shortly thereafter. You may also decide, and rightly so, that you can't wait for all of that and find your new favorite strawberry jam at PRiMO's website.  I'll number the comments and select the winner at random.  (Please be sure to shoot me an email from the contact tab at left if your comment isn't attached to an email/blog/way to get in touch with you.)

I've spent the past month gearing up for my new job, outside of the home, out in the big world that lies past the threshold of my own kingdom. It's been a good run. I'll look back on my 30's at home with general good thought and pride in my independent work. I'll remember all of the lessons learned and remember there are still more to come. When I prepare for the workdays ahead, I page through some of my most favorite simple food books, Peter Miller talking about collaborative lunches at his bookshop, Cal Peternell's chapter on toast, and Tamar Adler's making the most of boiling pot of water and I know life doesn't end with work outside the home no matter how scared I am of that. It's just another chapter in my own running story, one that's still developing and "fast breaking". And that chapter includes a ton of simple food and the pleasures found therein.

Is there room for preserves?  Most definitely. Certainly, there is ample room to purchase a few jars this year as well, and from a small producer like PRiMO, I'll almost consider them my own.



Disclosure: PRiMO did send me a jar of their preserves for review, but as always my thoughts and opinions are fully my own.


Rice. (Arborio Rice Pudding)

I've been thinking a lot about rice lately.  In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't seem that important.  In the midst of attacks, more attacks, and attempted attacks, me thinking about rice in the small corner of Wisconsin hardly seems mentionable at all really.  But maybe that is the point.  That all of us are tiny, living (or trying to live) out our lives in a small way in a minuscule part of the globe.  Like grains of rice, each one of us matter and are important.  Like grains of rice, we function better together than separately.  

I've been reading Michael Solomonov's Zahav - maybe you are too.  I find myself losing 20 minutes at each instance I open it, so full of stories and good looking things to make and eat.  A different perspective on the world - and on rice.  When I was growing up, my family always had a late Sunday lunch - usually a casserole or something long cooking that could go on "timed bake" while we were away at church.  Even when I was really little, I would hope for chicken and rice, which my Mom baked in a beat up graniteware oval baking dish.  The rice would bake and stick to the bottom and sides of the oval, and it was the best part.  My Mom thought so too - and would gladly take the portions that would stick to the sides.  Until this point in my life I was unaware of Persian rice, which prizes this crisp bottom layer and gives it the name "tahdig", which means, literally, the bottom of the pot.  

Solomonov talks about his (half) brother-in-law trying these last 40 years to continually perfect his pots of rice.  Something so simple becoming so transcendent that it changed the way Solomonov thought about cooking in general.  The surest way to perfect something is to do it often, over and over again; the humblest of ingredients become transformed into something much more, in this case the grains of rice reminding us of humanity, of family and tradition, culture and heritage.  All of those tiny grains nourishing generations of people all over the planet -  it's almost easy to feel an overwhelming connectedness to people everywhere when considering it.

arborio rice pudding

I've never been the best rice cooker.  In my kitchen notebook, I have rice ratios written that no matter how much I try I can never memorize.  While I will likely take years more before mastering savory rices (and tahdig is now definitely on my list), I feel pretty confident about one rice dish: arborio rice pudding.  The source recipe is long gone, and what remains is a sugar-slashed version that includes a bit of almond extract.  To make it in my favorite oatmeal pot, I use the smaller ratio listed.  The full amount will cook nicely in a 3 quart pot.

Take care not to cook the rice too long since it thickens more as it cools.  The pudding is my favorite texture, temperature, and flavor about 2 hours after making it, and I sometimes plan my dessert eating around it that way.  But even chilled completely, the texture is so lovely and soft. That is the nature of arborio, it is the definition of comfort.

Arborio Rice Pudding

yields 3 cups (4 cup amounts in parenthesis)

  • 6 T. arborio rice (1/2 c.)
  • 3 c. whole milk (4 c.)
  • 3 T. sugar (1/4 c.)
  • good pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 t. vanilla extract (1 1/2 t.)
  • 1/4 t. almond extract (1/2 t.)
  • as many raisins (or currants) as you wish or don't wish.

Combine all the ingredients except the extracts in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil.  Immediately lower the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring regularly, until the rice is al dente.  Remember that it will continue to thicken as it cools, and also that the rice will continue to soften after you remove it from the heat.  When it has cooked enough, stir in the extracts and transfer it to a glass storage container.  Cool at room temperature for a bit and then refrigerate.  Best eaten within 3 days.

arborio rice pudding

I usually don't measure the quantities of vanilla and almond extracts that I use, or the amount of raisins.  I've also been known to include some freshly grated nutmeg or even a cinnamon stick if the mood strikes.  But no matter what I do to it, the arborio never lets me down with a lacking texture.  It's silky and encouraging, and just the thing to remind you of all the good things in life when the bad seem overwhelming and likely to overcome you.



Brandy Bread Pudding

I remember the first time I ever tasted a hard sauce.  My Dad had taken me west, and I was completely charmed by the idea of cowboys and Indians and Wild Bill Cody.  We had come through the Badlands in 100 degree heat, me perched on the back of his motorcycle and we were hot.  We had intended to stay at Cody's Irma hotel, and had even checked in.  On the second floor, I plopped myself flat on the bed and looked up at the skylight which was cracked, the ceiling looked as parched and wrinkled as I felt myself.  The A/C was broken, and the rooms were so hot, I did feel like we had stepped back in time to the old west.  Every room on that floor had their door open, and people were lounging, talking, and otherwise downright communal.  My Pop and I discussed it, and decided that the lure of air conditioning in a smaller hotel across the street was better.  (There, the A/C was coming into our room through a transom over the door, it was some relief after a long day on the bike...)  

But we did go back to the Irma for breakfast, where we sat in the antler-lined dining room and ordered buffet breakfasts.  I doused my bread pudding and pretty much my whole plate in whisky hard sauce, which was boozy and sweet, and as good on the ham as it was on the pudding and pancake.  It was hard work journeying west, and I overate in anticipation.


Maybe I really like reminiscing about that hot, late summer trip because of all of the snow and sub-zero temps lately.  Right now I can barely remember the sun it seems, or the sunburn that blistered my skin after days on the road.  But I do remember that hard sauce, and my long food memory was good for rekindling some of that warmth for our New Year's Eve dessert. It's become somewhat of a tradition to go cajun on New Year's Eve, most likely because I leave the menu up to my Husband, and that is usually his request.

This year I acquired the Heaven on Seven cookbook from my thrifting-genius friend Donna.  That Chicago restaurant is one of my Husband's favorites, and the book has plenty of their menu staples.  Of course, I generally use cookbooks as templates - which works good with heavy southern food.  The recipe for bread pudding was so laden with sugar, I could tell I could slash it by 3/4 and no one would be the wiser.  Before this book came into my life, I'd all but given up making bread pudding, since I was the only one to eat it.  A New Year's Eve menu picked out by my beloved, and he wasn't sure he'd ever actually tried bread pudding... Finally, an excuse to do it up right!

I started the day before by making a challah from Peter Reinhart's recipe.  I forgot how marvelously simple his recipe is, and how perfectly burnished and beautiful the loaf ends up.  For an enriched bread, it's not too sweet or heavy:  perfect for transformation into bread pudding. Unlike that first loaf I made without a stand mixer, I mixed this one up using the KitchenAid and it was even easier than I remember.  I made a braid of three fat portions of dough, and came up with a nearly round loaf.  4 good size slices made the 8 cups of cubed bread needed for the bread pudding, with plenty leftover for toast and french toast.

good eggs.
infused cream.

Jimmy Banos' bread pudding is served with a heavy caramel sauce, but like I said - I couldn't get a hard sauce out of my head.  I took a cue from Nigel Slater and made up a boozy version of my own.  Hard sauce, it seems, is generally made with softened butter, and is not at all melted like the small vat of whisky sauce I once poured over my plate in the American West.  The heat of the pudding is supposed to melt the semi-solid, gritty sauce; I lopped a few spoonfuls into a saucepan and melted it for old times sake.  

Use the same small saucepan throughout the preparation to cut down on dishes.

Brandy Bread Pudding (adapted from Jimmy Banos)
yields 1 8x8 pan, about 6 servings of modest size
  • 1/2 c. raisins
  • 3 T. brandy (more for the hard sauce)
  • 8 c. day-old challah (or other enriched bread), cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  • 2 oz. butter (4 T.)
  • 1 t. cinnamon, divided
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 c. heavy cream
  • 1/4 c. whole milk
  • 1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/2-1 t. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 eggs
 Bring brandy to a bare simmer in a small saucepan.  Pour over the raisins in a small bowl, and let stand for 30 minutes to soften.

Place the bread cubes in a large bowl.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, then drizzle it evenly over the bread cubes.  Mix 1/4 t. cinnamon with 1/4 c. granulated sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle it over the buttered bread cubes.  Toss gently to combine.

Crack the eggs into a medium bowl; beat to combine.  Heat the heavy cream, whole milk, 1/4 c. granulated sugar, 1/2 t. cinnamon, and as much nutmeg as you like in a small saucepan until just warmed through and the sugar is dissolved.  Slowly beat the warmed milk mixture into the eggs and beat well to combine.  Pour over the bread cubes along with the soaked raisins and their brandy, tossing gently to combine.  Let stand at room temperature for 30-45 minutes until the bread soaks up most of the custard.  Stir gently one time about half way through the rest.  Preheat oven to 350.

Butter an 8x8 glass baking dish, pour in the bread pudding, and place it inside a larger baking dish.  Carefully pour in boiling water to come about halfway up the side of the pan (You can do this in the oven if you aren't too steady).  Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean.   Remove from the oven and cool a bit before removing from the hot water.  Serve warm, room temperature, or cold - preferably with hard sauce.

Brandy Hard Sauce (inspired by Nigel Slater)
Mix equal parts by weight of soft, unsalted butter and dark brown sugar.  (I used 90 g. of each.)  Beat well with a hand mixer until fluffy.  Add a pinch of salt, and brandy by the tablespoon until it has the kick you are after - this was about 4 tablespoons for me.  Store in the refrigerator, and serve on warm bread pudding or other warm kitchen baked goods.  Or, melt some in a small saucepan for a pourable sauce.
brandy bread pudding

This bread pudding, despite the richness of ingredients, wasn't too rich or sweet.  The quality of the ingredients let me appreciate each mouthful.  It was room temperature by the time we cut squares out of it for our dessert; I poured melted hard sauce over, letting it pool a bit on the plates.  Because it was New Year's Eve.  Because is there any other way to enjoy bread pudding?  Because even in the blanket of winter I like to think of the summer I was so hot and happily riding west, free from all worry and responsibility, with my Dad - who also loves bread pudding.  It was the perfect sweet ending to the year.

brandy bread pudding

(Paleo and/or Gluten-Free) Strawberry-Rhubarb "Bars".

It is no secret that I have a wicked sweet tooth.  I have made great strides in consuming less sugar, specifically less desserts, but lately?  Man.  I am really craving the sweet stuff.  I'll go ahead and blame the pregnancy hormones, which is fun and easy to do - but so far, I'm doing a pretty good job of not giving in to overly refined sweets.  Part of the reason is that I'm finding naturally sweetened things to help me out.  The post-suppertime call of dessert is after all a part of my genetic make up, and who am I to buck the mold and abstain?

rhubarb strawberry bars, gluten-free

I will also publicly confess that I don't think I should be eating rhubarb.  This kills me, because rhubarb is one of my most favorite things - especially during this time of the year when you can't barely log onto your computer without finding a half dozen stellar looking rhubarby treats.  Rhubarb is part of the nightshade family, and one of the foods that I've self-diagnosed as a trigger for my skin problems.  Last spring, I may have overdosed on the kuchens and jams... and my hands really paid the price.  But this week there was one last bag of frozen, chopped rhubarb from last year in my deep freeze, and after this gorgeous post by Alanna at the Bojon Gourmet I figured I'd risk the minor skin irritations and come up with a no-refined sugar dessert for myself.  (Even though I'll likely have to make Alanna's version when the new crop rhubarb finally gets here!)

I suppose this dessert is mostly paleo friendly;  it's definitely gluten-free and refined sugar free.  It's also very much on the not-too-sweet side, leaving just enough room for a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side, though I've been just as happy having a generous spoonful of full-fat plain Greek yogurt on top. To coerce my son into having some, I just added an extra drizzle of maple syrup over the top which made it plenty sweet enough to convince him that he might just like rhubarb after all.

rhubarb strawberry bars, gluten-free

If you use frozen rhubarb and strawberries, there is no need to defrost them first.  I think the flavor of the dessert is better the next day, after it has fully chilled and had a chance to "set up".  These are the type of bars that require eating with a fork, unless you are very cautious and eat over the sink.

Strawberry Rhubarb Bars
  • 2 c. chopped rhubarb (frozen is fine)
  • 1-2 c. sliced strawberries (frozen are fine)
  • 1 T. rapadura
  • 1 T. maple syrup
  • 1 T. cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • 10 dates
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 c. sprouted almonds (50 g.) ground into a meal
  • 1/2 c. (50 g.) unsweetened, dried coconut
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 T. rapadura
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat oven to 350.  Butter a 9x9 glass baking dish and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine rhubarb, strawberries, 1 T. rapadura, 1 T. maple syrup, and cornstarch and stir well to combine.  Pour into prepared baking dish.
Using a blender, blend the eggs and dates until they are fully blended.  Pour over the rhubarb and strawberry mixture.

In a small bowl (or the same bowl you used to mix up the rhubarb and strawberries) combine the almond meal, coconut, salt, rapadura, oil, and butter and mix with your fingertips until you reach a good crumbly consistency.  Spread evenly over the top of the dessert.

Bake until puffed and lightly browned across the top, and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean - about 1 hour.  Cool completely to room temperature, then store in the refrigerator.  Serve with an extra splash of maple syrup, vanilla ice cream, and/or plain Greek yogurt.

gf coconut topping

Spring in Wisconsin is off to a slow start - which is really excellent news for maple syruping, but not so good news for us sun-starved northerners.  In many places around the country, the rhubarb is already up and ready to cut, but we're still waiting for a bit more warmth here to be so lucky.  Then, I'll replenish my frozen stores and continue to repress my physical sensitivities to this most wonderful marker of spring.  I'm sure I'll be figuring out a few more ways to enjoy rhubarb without so much sugar!

rhubarb strawberry bars, gluten-free

Rhubarb Redux, and Kuchenish is a Good Word.

I could eat my weight in rhubarb. This year, I have found several neighbors who grow it but don't eat it, and I will never understand why some detest its spunky flavor. One or two such haters live under my roof. When I read aloud yesterday that rhubarb can be good for cutting cancer risks and improving conditions after some types of cancer, my Husband (who has had cancer) said he'd rather have cancer than eat rhubarb. The prolific neighborhood rhubarb has an outlet in me for the perennial crop, and I probably went a little overboard for the holiday weekend - baking up gluten-free, rhubarby treats all for me.

gluten free rhubarb crisp
gluten-free rhubarb crisp.

I think every pan of rhubarb dessert I've ever made has a corner mysteriously missing before the pan has been out of the oven 5 minutes. It's hereditary; I am not sure I could help it if I tried, though admittedly I haven't tried very hard. I usually wait until I have rhubarb-loving company to make rhubarb desserts, but I was tired of waiting - and when one of those neighbors gave me some fresh rhubarb, I decided to make myself some low-sugar, mostly wheat free experiments. They were both so good that I have to record them for the future.

rhubarby notes.

When I bake for myself, I often use little scribbled sheets of notepaper, a general idea of the baked good I want to come up with or a crib note for future endeavors. In the case of the adapted crisp, I used a common big spoon from my silverware drawer, which I measured and found to be the exact same as a standard tablespoon measure. That discovery just made my personal baking that much easier.

gluten free rhubarb crisp

This crisp was inspired by La Tartine Gourmande, which has been on my library shelf for the past few weeks. I have read some of Beatrice Peltre's blog of the same name, but never realized until I was looking through the desserts chapter of her book that the recipes were all gluten-free. I'm not sensitive or allergic to gluten (that I know of) , but do believe that we all can benefit from less wheat, so I figured I would grind up some alternative flours and give it a go. I loved it.

Rice flour (at least rice flour made at home) is always a little gritty, but I don't mind this, especially in a crisp topping where the crunchiness is appreciated. The day after, the rice does soften up a little bit, but I still really liked the combination of sweet rice, slightly bitter amaranth and almond. The topping to filling ratio of this crisp leaned heavily in the topping's favor. Exactly how a crisp should be if you ask me. I made all of my flours in the VitaMix, but it is increasingly easier to find alternative flours at co-ops, other natural food stores, and traditional grocery markets.

Gluten Free Rhubarb Crisp (adapted from La Tartine Gourmande)
1 8x8 pan, about 6-8 servings if you're lucky

  • 12 oz. rhubarb, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 apple, unpeeled, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 1/4 t. cinnamon, more to taste
  • squeeze of lemon juice


  • 40 g. (1/4 c.) almond meal
  • 50 g. (1/3 c.) rice flour
  • 40 g. (1/3 c.) amaranth flour
  • 50 g. (1/4 c.) brown sugar
  • pinch of salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of ginger
  • 6 T. cold butter (3 oz. or about 85 g.), cubed
  • 35 g. (1/3 c.) rolled oats
  • large handful of chopped almonds, about a heaping 1/3 of a cup

Preheat oven to 350.

Butter an 8x8 baking dish, preferably glass, and set aside. Mix filling ingredients in a bowl, and stir well. Spread into the baking dish in an even layer. Save the dirty bowl to mix the topping.

To make the topping in a food processor, combine the flours, sugar, salt and spices and pulse to combine. Add butter, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse pebbles. Pour into the bowl used to make the filling, and add the oats and chopped almonds and mix well by hand. Spread evenly over the top of the filling. (You can make the topping by hand by crumbling the butter into the flours with your fingertips or a fork. Aim for the same, pebbly consistency.)

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until well browned and bubbly around the edges.

rhubarb kuchenish

After the success and rapid decimation of the crisp (yes, I pretty much ate it for breakfast, snack and dessert for 2 days solid), I turned my thoughts to the Rhubarb Kuchen of my youth. Kuchen is probably my all-time favorite dessert if you don't count chocolate cake, and it wasn't until I ate the crisp that I thought about altering it.

This is one recipe I've never thought about altering before. Tigress altered it last year, and did a good job of it, but it was still heavy on the refined sugar and leaden with kuchen-trademarked amounts of butter. I don't have anything against butter, but I was craving a more virtuous, breadfast-y version of kuchen, one that I didn't need to feel bad about eating all myself. I found my answer in dates.

rhubarb kuchenish
I really loved adding chia seed to the topping.

I simmered whole, dried dates in water and let them cool to make a near sugar-free version of rhubarb kuchen. Really, it's only kuchenish, because there is no bottom layer, but if you eat it with yogurt or ice cream, you'll hardly miss it. I have now made 3 rhubarb desserts in the past 4 days, but to my defense, there is still a nearly full pan of the last kuchenish left.

For the first attempt, I used whole wheat flour along with the oats but I liked it just as well using amaranth flour. For the second test, I also increased the volume and used frozen rhubarb from last year since I have to make room for the new crop. The fresh rhubarb is preferable, but the frozen still makes a respectable result. If using frozen rhubarb, I would recommend using an additional egg to add to the creaminess of the filling.

rhubarb kuchenish

Rhubarb Kuchenish (adapted from our family recipe of Rhubarb Kuchen)
bake in a 8x8 pan for thicker, longer baking dessert or 9x13 for thinner, shorter baking one

  • 12 oz. (about 1 c.) dried dates
  • 2/3 c. water
  • 6 c. rhubarb, measured after chopping to medium sized dice
  • 2-3 eggs
  • pinch of cinnamon, optional


  • 1/2 c. rolled oats
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat (or amaranth) flour
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 2 oz. (4 T.) butter
  • pinch of salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 2 T. chia seeds
  • pinch of cinnamon, optional

To make the filling, simmer the water and dates in a covered pan for 10 minutes or so until soft. Cool to room temperature, then puree using a food processor, food mill, or immersion blender (that's what I used). Mix with the rest of the filling ingredients, and spread into a buttered baking dish.

Preheat oven to 350.

Make the topping by crumbling the butter into the flour by hand or with a food processor. Then add oats and the rest of the ingredients and toss to combine well. Spread over the filling in an even layer, and bake until golden brown and bubbly around the edges, 40-60 minutes depending on the size and depth of your baking dish.

kuchenish bite

Stored in the refrigerator, both the kuchenish and the crisp will keep several days - if not a week - but I know that is wishful thinking for me. I am reminded why I have been dutifully staying clear of baking desserts for myself. I crouch over a piping hot dish of fresh-from-the-oven rhubarb with fork in hand, burning my mouth to shovel those first few bites in, to examine if rhubarb made with dramatically less sugar is just as beguiling as the real thing. It is, I think. I feel a little better knowing that if I eat a whole pan of rhubarb dessert, it has just a trace of refined sugar in it. If you make one, let me know what you think, will you?