Spring Odd(itie)s and Ends

How weird and wonderful is it to know every time you eat rhubarb, that while the stalks are delicious, the leaves are poisonous. Every spring, as I take a spoon of freshly cooked rhubarb, or shovel in a mouthful of rhubarb crisp, I find myself saying to whoever is in earshot “I wonder how people figured this one out”. Who ate the leaves, got sick, and went back to nibble the stalks?  It turns out that the leaves are high in oxalic acid, while the stalks are not.  Cooking further reduces its concentration.

Now for more veggie science.  I am not a huge zucchini fan. It is o.k., but it isn’t something I crave.  Its blossoms are a different story. Every spring I look forward to stuffing the blossoms, and enjoying them with a glass of wine. That is my “official spring” moment.  That, and getting bitten by blackflies, but I’d rather not discuss that.  This year, I learned something new.  There are male and female blossoms. Only female squash blossoms mature into squash. Male blossoms are there to fertilize the females, and outweigh and outnumber the female flowers. So, if you buy male blossoms, you are not directly sacrificing future squash.  Interestingly, the female blossoms taste different. Raw, they are sweet and delicious. The male blossoms must be cooked, and I remove the pollen because it is bitter.

He is on the left, and she is on the right!

He is on the left, and she is on the right!

Being a reluctant fry-er, here is a recipe for baked zucchini blossoms, and rhubarb crisp.  Science is so yummy.

Baked Zucchini Blossoms

1 cup Ricotta Cheese

zest of 1 Lemon

1/4 cup Chopped Basil

Salt And Pepper, to taste, a pinch of nutmeg

12 whole Medium Zucchini Blossoms

a drizzle of olive oil and ¼ cup Parmesan Cheese

Rinse the blossoms if necessary and remove the pollen.  Try to open the blossoms without tearing them.

Mix the cheese, zest, basil, salt, pepper and nutmeg, and put into a piping bag or ziplock bag, and snip the corner.

Stuff the blossoms, leaving enough space at the top of each blossom to twist them closed.

Place in baking dish, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with parmesan.

Cook for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees until tender.

Add some fresh tomato sauce if you like!  THIS TASTES SO MUCH BETTER THAN IT LOOKS!

Add some fresh tomato sauce if you like! THIS TASTES SO MUCH BETTER THAN IT LOOKS!

Rhubarb Crisp

1-1/2 lb rhubarb stalks, cut in 1/2-inch dice (about 6 cups)

3/4 cup granulated sugar (I usually use a bit less, but I like it tart)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon


1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup melted butter

In large bowl, toss rhubarb, sugar, flour and cinnamon. Transfer an 8-inch square baking pan.

For topping, toss together flour, sugar and oats. Drizzle in butter. Mix well with fork. Sprinkle over rhubarb mixture.

Bake in preheated 375F oven until top is golden brown and you see juices bubbling, about 30 minutes.

looking for a spoon.

looking for a spoon.


Gone fishin’…..Sorta.

I’m waving my “I’m Canadian so I don’t hate winter” flag. ENOUGH.

But hey, or rather “eh”, since I am Canadian, and I want spring, maple is on my mind.  Spotting one last piece of salmon in the freezer, I scrapped my plan for tea-smoked salmon and try a whiskey-maple marinade.  Please note this was no grocery-store salmon….it was caught by my “boys” at Bones Bay Lodge in Knight’s Inlet British Columbia.  If you want a FABULOUS fishing experience, give them a call. Back to the recipe…..As if the whiskey wasn’t woody enough, I decided to put it on a cedar plank on the grill.  But alas, I was out of planks. All I found was a package of cedar wrappers that I thought were too silly to work. Surprise – they worked, were super easy to deal with, and will be starring at many of my summer dinner parties!

Here’s the recipe (exact measures are not necessary)…

1 cup whisky

½ cup maple syrup

1/3 cup soy sauce

splash of Olive oil

a handful of chopped parsley

3 tbs. Asian sweet or regular chili sauce

freshly ground pepper

Salmon – I used 8 fillets and had a lot of marinade left over

Marinate the fish for about 30 minutes.

Soak the cedar wrapping sheets for 10 minutes.

Remove the fish from marinade (discard marinade please). Wrap the fillets in the cedar papers.

Preheat grill to HOT. Turn down the grill on the side you are using to low (or off). Grill for 8 – 10 minutes.  Unwrap and serve.


ready to go

ready to go

This is looking promising

This is looking promising