This has been an epic week.
I met the man-friend’s mother. I never talk about the relationship I have with A, but needless to say it’s a rather sensitive one. One that requires undivided attention, lots of espresso shots and some serious affection for me. That kicked off what is now the most important week in the last 6.5 years I’ve been in Atlanta.
That untimely tryst, though one that had raised all kinds of questions in everyone’s head in my inner circle, turned out to be a special situation. The afternoon was lovely. Quaint, comfortable, generous and very warm.
And then there was a delicious dinner for two I hosted, ironically just 10 minutes from A’s mom’s house. What are the odds? In her neighborhood twice in 3 days. Hmmm.
And now the move. The “2 years in prayer” move has finally arrived and almost done. As I write this post, I’m stuffing my face with the following: mint chocolate chip ice cream with pound cake, espresso (a quad shot), sea salt chocolate, jalapeño cheddar chips and a few swigs of rum. Not at all an ideal combination, but definitely an appropriate one for the occasion. See, I don’t have a bed to sleep on tonight, so I’m pulling an all-nighter and wrapping this THING up.
In all the fury, as aforementioned in yesterday’s quickie post, I’ve had to find time to cook and even blog. A normal, rational person under these same circumstances wouldn’t dare log on to WordPress to even accept comments, and here I am, having cooked and written up a few recipes with these long a$$ stories I love to tell.
I’ve gone mad.
The real objective of this post which I see now has become an emotional can of worms waiting to be pried open, is to highlight this delicate and somewhat refined, yet ridiculous sugar bomb of a dessert. The creative heads behind 5 Star Foodie Makeover — you know, the monthly gourmet cooking club I’m cheerfully a member of — decided to throw us a curve ball this month. Restaurant Wars!
How do you like them dishes!? We were all split up into teams and given an ingredient or two which we had to use to come up with a “restaurant” name. Ours? The PINK GOAT. Pretty genius if you ask me. Right up my chic alley.
La Cabra Rosada says it all. Rhubarb, a tangy vegetable, indigenous to the Asian content and modernly used as a “fruit” in cakes, pies, tarts, etc… and goat cheese, a soft white queso. How insanely perfect is that courtship? However, I had a slight conundrum. I remember not liking rhubarb in the slightest the first time I had it. Since I was tasked with making dessert, I had not a clue on how I was going to make this work into something memorable. Truth be told, I’ve been sitting on my idea for about 3 weeks now. With the elevated drama in my life, I let it take a back seat and allowed the stress to compound, until this morning.
If you know me personally, you probably know I work extremely well under pressure. It’s always been that way in my life. And so what would this task be any different?
On 3 hours of sleep and a full day (at time of publishing, it will be exactly 22 hours) of hard labor ahead of me, the very dessert I was going to make designed itself in front of my eyes and vibrantly emitted aromas in my nasal passage. I stopped the mad packer I was and started the process. I knew from the onset of the assignment that I wanted to do something along the lines of a puff pastry.
What resulted was a mediocrity of a plan but a superb dessert for young, tired, energetic and daring to enjoy — all of which I happen to embody right now. I started with making a thick sauce with fresh rhubarb chunks and cocktail of sugars. As I stirred and pondered an extra ingredient, I went for a slightly bruised banana at my reach. I chopped it up and added it to the mix… and then a bit of goat cheese and ginger. I smelled everything I wanted to. I cooked it until thick enough to be the sexy ooz that would seep out of each cut.
A puff pastry takes a standard egg wash, no? I wanted more rhubarb! ¡Mas! I took a bit of my unadulterated rhubarb batch, thinned it and add it to the wash. My thought process became more complicated and more delicious. After 90 minutes of playing, tasting, adding, taking away, modifying and finalizing, I pulled this lovely, fragrant and somewhat of rustic-looking pastry out of oven.
Initially I didn’t drizzle the sauce on the puff. I simply sprinkled cheese on top and around the perimeter of the plate and garnished it with lavender. But that was a bit plain and was missing something. I took most of the reserve sauce and went to town in dressing up my pretty little thing. And with more queso.
It was the last thing I cooked in my oven. The oven that has been the vessel for many a fantastic menus, casual and fine here in Atlanta.
I’m so thrilled I put on my Super Woman costume and made this work. Truthfully, I was so nervous I was going to have to back out, but hey, in my world, things really do happen under extreme cases of pressure. With Cuba Libre’s in my hand… lots of them.
I’d make this again, and again and again. Perhaps with a bit more time la proxima!
Rhubarb & Goat Cheese & Banana Stuffed Puff Pastry
- 1/2 lb. rhubarb, sliced 1" chunks
- 1/2 cup goat cheese, divided
- 2 Tbsp. white sugar
- 4 Tbsp. brown sugar, divided
- 1/2 banana
- 2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
- 1 tsp. lavandar
- 1 egg (for wash)
- 1 puff pastry sheet (frozen or homemade)
In medium saucepan, combine rhubarb, white sugar, ginger, banana and half of brown sugar. Stir on medium heat in rhubarb is cooked down but not falling apart. Add a pinch of water if you see your mixture thicken too much. After 20-25 minutes, add half amount of cheese. Stir on low heat for 5 minutes or until cheese is fully melted. Set mixture aside.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bake pastry puff per box instructions if purchased, approximately 20 minutes. In the meantime, make your egg wash and add 1 tsp. of rhubarb mixture. Remove puff pastry from oven. Let sit for 5 minutes. Using pastry brush, glaze each puff pastry with egg wash. Fill each pastry with 2-3 Tbsp. of rhubarb mix. Top with goat cheese and remaining brown sugar. Bake for 10 minutes or until sugar has browned. Remove from oven. Top with a bit more goat cheese. Drizzle pastry puff with extra rhubarb sauce. Garnish with lavender.