Taking advantage of fresh fruit and veggies

Cooking with Cathie

Cathie CampbellJune 21, 2012 

What a great time of year! I love all the fresh produce that is becoming more and more available, especially the fruit. And farmers markets are going strong.

I did have one recent disappointment regarding fruit, but it wasn't the fruit's fault. I bought some nice-looking peaches (foolishly paid $2.99 a pound) and stored them in my refrigerator. Went to get one out for breakfast and it had ice crystals in it. My fridge temperature setting must have gone haywire. Maybe I should consider making some peach ice cream.

Well, no peach recipes in today's mix, but soon I will have a bunch to share. In the meantime, take advantage of all the summer fruit and enjoy some fruit-filled treats or a dinner with fresh veggies out on the deck or patio in the evening.

Rhubarb coffee cake

  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 1/2 cups chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb, thawed and drained


  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition.
  2. Pour into a greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Spoon rhubarb to within 1/2 inch of edges. Combine topping ingredients; sprinkle over top.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Makes about 15 servings.

Note: If using frozen rhubarb, measure rhubarb while still frozen, then thaw completely. Drain in a colander, but do not press liquid out.

Strawberry rhubarb upside-down cake

For the strawberry-rhubarb:

  • 3 stalks rhubarb, topped/tailed, washed, sliced into 1/2 -inch-thick slices
  • 1/2 basket strawberries, washed, stemmed, and sliced (about a cup)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

For the brown butter:

  1. 1/4 cup butter
  2. 1/2 cup brown sugar

For the cake:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Toss the strawberries and rhubarb with sugar (1/2 cup) and cornstarch in a bowl. Let it sit while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
  2. Line a 9-inch square pan with parchment. Grease everything well, as sticking is not an option with this cake.
  3. Melt butter and brown sugar together in a small saucepan, stirring until well mixed. Pour the brown butter into the bottom of the cake pan.
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter until smooth. In a small bowl, mix lemon zest in with the sugar, and then add it to the butter. Beat until light and fluffy. Next add vanilla, then eggs, one at a time. Finally add sour cream and lemon juice.
  5. In another bowl, mix flour together with baking powder and salt. Then slowly, 1/2 cup at a time, mix the flour into the wet batter.
  6. Give the strawberry-rhubarb mixture a good stir, and then layer it into your cake pan over the brown butter. Spread it out into an even layer. Place the cake batter on top.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes. Cake is done when a skewer or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, or with just a few crumbs. Take the cake out of the oven and allow to cool.
  8. When you are able to handle it, run a knife around the outside edges of the cake to loosen, and then place a large plate on top of the cake, and, holding the plate and the cake pan firm and steady, flip the whole thing upside-down so that the plate is on the bottom. Carefully remove the cake pan and parchment. Very good served warm.

Strawberry rhubarb coffee cake


  • 3 cups sliced rhubarb, (1 inch pieces) fresh or frozen
  • 2 pints fresh strawberries, mashed
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch


  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, cut in small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  1. Generously butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and have ready a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan (or tin foil on the baking rack) to place under the baking dish to allow for any fruit bubbling over. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine the rhubarb, strawberries and lemon juice. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Combine the sugar with the cornstarch and add to the fruit mixture. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened, and the cornstarch mixture looks clear. Remove from heat.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut the butter in with a pastry blender, or use your fingers to rub the butter into the dry ingredients, until you have a mixture that resembles coarse crumbs. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and mix to combine.
  4. Spread half of the batter mixture into the prepared baking pan. Top with the strawberry rhubarb mixture, carefully spreading as necessary. Using a tablespoon, drop the remaining batter onto the filling.
  5. For the topping, melt the butter either in your microwave or in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the flour and sugar and mix until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over batter.
  6. Place baking dish on the baking sheet and bake for approximately 45 to 55 minutes or until the cake is done. A toothpick inserted into the center of the batter will probably have the fruit mixture cling to the toothpick, but you are looking to see that the batter is cooked. Cool cake on rack. Cut in squares to serve. Makes 12 servings.

Asparagus mushroom quiche

  • 1 tube (8 ounces) refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 2 teaspoons prepared mustard
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2 -inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon each dried basil, oregano and rubbed sage
  1. Preheat oven to 275. Separate crescent dough into eight triangles; place in an ungreased 9-inch pie plate with points toward the center. Press onto the bottom and up the sides to form a crust; seal perforations. Spread with mustard; set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, sauté the asparagus, onion and mushrooms in butter until asparagus is crisp-tender. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; stir in asparagus mixture. Pour into crust.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until a knife inserted near the edge comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting. Makes 8 servings.

Spring vegetable and quinoa pilaf

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a grain with a texture similar to couscous. It can be found in most grocery stores. Recipe from Bon Appetit magazine, May 2010.

  • 1 3/4 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt plus additional for seasoning
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained three times
  • 6 baby golden beets, peeled, cut into 1/3 -inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup 1/2 -inch pieces orange bell peppers
  • 1 cup 1/2 -inch pieces red bell peppers
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 3/4 -inch pieces
  • 1 cup 1/2 -inch pieces trimmed baby zucchini (about 6 ounces)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  1. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
  2. Bring broth and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt to boil in medium saucepan; add quinoa. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until quinoa is tender and broth is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat; fluff with fork. Cover and reserve.
  3. Meanwhile, bring 1 1/4 cups water to boil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add beets. Cover and cook until beets are tender, about 8 minutes. Uncover; cook until any water in skillet evaporates. Increase heat to medium-high. Add olive oil and garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add all bell peppers, asparagus and zucchini. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. sauté until just tender, about 8 minutes. Add cooked quinoa, green onions and parsley to vegetables in skillet; toss to combine. Season with sea salt and pepper. Makes 4 servings.

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