Strawberries & Rhubarb are Best Friends
Photo: Liz Rueven

Strawberries & Rhubarb are Best Friends

Anyone else relish food centric summer travels?

I love to plan around great meals in vegetarian friendly restaurants, bike rides and picnics, and meeting organic growers at local farmers’ markets. Throw in a cooking class using seasonal and local ingredients, like the one where we made these Strawberry Financiers with Roast Rhubarb, and I’m one happy camper.

Lucky for me, my family loves most of these same adventures. Funny how that works.

California strawberries kosher cooking
Photo: Liz Rueven

We just returned from California’s magnificent Napa Valley where almost every local thanked us for supporting them after their terrible wild fires last fall. People seemed surprised to learn that we cared so deeply all the way from the east coast. Once you’ve visited a place and get to know a few folks, it’s like that.

In my quest for a cooking class, I’m sure I asked more questions than most. I teach, too, so I need to know that I’m going to gain plenty of new tips, techniques and inspiration.I was assured that the menu would be kosher-friendly and a quick phone call prior to signing up had me feeling confident without knowing all of the details.

California rhubarb kosher dessert
DO NOT eat these leaves! Photo: Liz Rueven

Our local host pointed me to Silverado Cooking School, explaining that they source most ingredients from a two acre farm just up the road. In fact, they plan their classes around what’s growing and create menus that highlight the best of their crops.

Turns out, that Stone Tree Farm belongs to Chef Malcom de Sieyes, the owner of the cooking school. He’s so passionate about forging the connection between farmers and cooks that he invites classes to explore and pick at this farm, which is at his residence.

photo: Liz Rueven

The class began with a visit to the farm and a walk-through with farm manager, Ricardo Espanosa. He and our instructor, Chef Frances Wilson have a friendly connection and it was clear that they work together all the time.

Chef had her “picking” list: 10 stalks of rhubarb, 12 eggs and strawberries for the dessert we would bake. We picked what we needed for our menu including carrots, lettuce, radishes, onions, cauliflower, lemons and potatoes. Chef checked her list of what we needed to harvest and we headed over to the school to cook together.

roasting rhubarb kosher dessert
Seasoning rhubarb; Photo: Liz Rueven

Chef’s many years of training and teaching were evident as she brought us back to the state of the art kitchen at Silverado Cooking School and introduced the dishes we were to cook. As she mentioned to me towards the end of the class, Chef Frances is more than happy to build a class around dietary restrictions. She just doesn’t feel a need to label it kosher-friendly, pescatarian, vegetarian or whatever.

strawberry financier roasted rhubarb
Photo: Liz Rueven

Because I was with my daughter, who loves to bake but doesn’t do much of it in her tiny NYC apartment, we jumped on the opportunity to make strawberry financiers (traditional French nut cakes with egg whites made in small rectangular pans that resemble gold bars). To accompany these delicate cakes, we roasted rhubarb sweetened with brown sugar and moistened with plenty of native oranges and zest.

roast rhubarb
Photo: Liz Rueven

For more on rhubarb and a cooling recipe for Rhubarb and Rose Water Sobet from Louisa Shafia’s The New Persian Kitchen, click here.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that a small portion of your purchase through these Amazon links helps to support my blogging habit. THANKS!



    • I will be sure to
      Do that next time I’m in your neck o’ the woods. Your farm to kitchen commitment is exactly how I get inspired and just what I love to share with my readers.

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