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Strawberry-Rhubarb Tart with Brown Sugar Shortcrust 1

Strawberry-Rhubarb Tart with Brown Sugar Shortcrust

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The other day I mentioned on twitter that I have never had rhubarb. The responses were fast and plentiful, and most fell into a rage from disbelief to pity. I never realized it was so popular – I don’t even think I knew it existed until a few years ago! I decided that since everyone seemed to love it so much, I should take the plunge and give it a try. I went with the traditional combination of rhubarb with strawberries, but I didn’t want to commit to a whole pie. So I made a tart. A tart with a brown sugar shortbread crust.

Ok, fine. Maybe I just didn’t feel like dealing with pie crust. But the shortbread crust was perfect. Strawberries and shortbread. Strawberries and brown sugar. How could you go wrong? Especially when you start out with strawberries that look like these:

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I mean, strawberries have been awesome this year as it is, but take a look at those beauties! They were every bit as juicy and sweet as they look. Which is good, since I paired them with rhubarb. Which, in case you’re like me and have never had it before, is extremely tart. Especially when it’s raw. I don’t recommend doing what I did and taking a nibble to test it out.

Despite the tartness of that nibble, I could tell that this was going to be a thing of beauty so I forged ahead. Let the berries and rhubarb macerate in sugar to release the juices. Scooped it into the partially bakes cookie crust. Baked it until the filling became luscious and jammy, almost like a grown up version of a linzer tarte. Where has this been all my life?

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Southwestern Short Ribs

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One day last weekend, I was looking for an excuse to not leave the house so I decided to braise something. I feel like although I’ve been doing a lot of braising this winter (thanks to Julie and Julia, which has us all craving Boeuf Bourgignon in August!!), I hardly ever use my oven. I obviously use it when I bake, but it’s so rare that I do something like roast a chicken and the oven just never gets used for cooking. I takes so long! You have to wait for it to preheat, then it takes forever to actually cook your food…. so it’s the stovetop for me the majority of the time. Every once in a while if I’m snowed in (or want to pretend I’m snowed in!) I take advantage of the time at home to make a delicious braised dish. Like these short ribs, which simmer away all afternoon until the meat falls right off the bone and is tender as can be.

Instead of doing a traditional Italian braise, I decided to put a southwestern twist on my ribs, using beer and tequila as my liquids and adding a jalapeno and some chili powder to the pot. The flavor turned out great – it wasn’t spicy or beer-y at all, but it had a nice little southwestern kick. In order to develop the recipe I used the “Create your own” feature on the Fine Cooking web site. The feature walks you through the recipe and lets you drag different combinations of ingredients into the “pot” – then at the end it gives you a recipe that you can follow to recreate the dish n a real kitchen. I always play around with the feature, but I had never actually cooked one of the recipes before. I was impressed! Although you ned to pay attention to what flavors will go well together and make sure you have a good balance of richness and acidity, it’s a great way to put a fun, personal twist on a recipe that you aren’t that familiar with.

For any of you that have never had short ribs before, it’s similar to pot roast with a slightly firmer texture – fork-tender and succulent meat, with vegetables that cook down into a nice sauce. I served these with mashed potatoes (with sour cream instead of milk) to serve with my ribs. They were a great way to soak up the extra sauce! [….]

Crispy Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

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(Before I start talking about these cookies, I’ll let you know that there’s a great giveaway at the end of this post. Including FREE CHEESE!)

Ok, now that that’s out of the way…..

I’m not going to go on and on about how these are the best chocolate chip cookies in the world. I promise. Everyone thinks they’re recipe is the best and, honestly, few stand up to the one that printed on the back of the bag of chocolate chips. But sometimes you’re looking for something different. Something… crispier! Soft, gooey cookies have their place but sometimes I just want a little bit of crunch. They’re great for dunking in eggnog (I don’t like dunking soft cookies – they get too soggy) and they keep really well. They best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever? I’ll leave that up for debate. But let’s just say if I was Santa, whatever kid left me a plate of these would be written on the “nice” list in permanent marker. [….]