Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

_MG_1646

I have a small obsession with growing up. My wishes range from having a car and a puppy to dreaming of the day when I’ll stop thinking that fart jokes are really the funniest of them all. Sometimes I get pangs of adulty withdrawals and scrounge through Craigslist for things my parents have. Like kitchen islands and lamp shades. Curtains.

It’s not just the things. I yearn for conversations outside of the next meal and how’s-work-going. That’s what makes you an adult, right? Black coffee and philosophizing?

Mmmnope.

I don’t think I’ll ever be an adult. And I don’t really want to be. I’d much rather hang out with my high school friends and rewatch Harry Potter until I know the script by heart.

There’ll be plenty of time to put down a mortgage, get matching towels and talk about what Ira Glass said on the last episode of This American Life. Too much time, really.

But at least I can still play in the dirt and bring home rhubarb every once in a while. And if that’s what it means to grow up, then I’ll stick with it.

_MG_1619No, really, I dug my toes into the soil and snipped stalks of rhubarb. I’ve got a garden. Finally. #Adulthood.

_MG_1634My brother told me to make this cake probably 3 months ago. Now I know why.

_MG_1631Because who doesn’t love caramelizing rhubarb?

_MG_1640And then, like, turning it into a sort of biscuit-like thing that makes your apartment smell like a pastry shop?

_MG_1643The only way to flip this without it falling apart is to say “omgomgomgomgomgomg.”

_MG_1650It worked.

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake.

3/4lbs rhubarb, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 6 tablespoons cut into small cubes and chilled
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a 9-inch cast-iron skillet, cook the rhubarb, 1 cup sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, 4 tablespoons butter and 1/4 teaspoon salt on medium heat until the rhubarb is soft and slightly caramelized. Make sure the sugar doesn’t burn. Because that’d be lame. And you’ll probably have to start over. This should take about 8-10 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, remaining sugar and baking powder. Add the chilled 6 tablespoons of butter and shortening and using your hands, gently break apart the pieces until the flour mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the milk and eggs and mix until a sticky dough forms.

Gently spoon the dough on top of the caramelized rhubarb and smooth over lightly with a spatula.

Place the skillet into the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Once you take it out of the oven, let it cool for about 5-10 minutes before flipping it onto a large, flat serving platter. If you don’t have one (because you’re lacking in the kitchen department of adulthood), a cutting board should work. Or a pizza peel. Whatever.

When you flip it, swear as much as you need to ensure it’ll come out in one piece. You might have to coax it with some kind words after being so mean.

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream. Or just with a fork.

Spicy Vegetarian Chili with Goat Cheese Biscuits

It’s one of those cut-myself-shaving because I haven’t-touched-a-razor-in-months kind of days. You know, the good-lord-am-I-really-that-white morning. Wow-I-need-to-work-out afternoon.

And an ice cream evening.

Blissful denial gets me through the toughest times.

Especially butter denial. After years of no meat, some evil warlock in the back of my head tells me during just about every meal that I deserve butter. That butter has a lot of calcium. Butter is good for you.

It’s really not.

But don’t tell the biscuits I told you.

What’s the harm in butter when complimented with a platter of vegetables, right? says the evil, high-cholesterol dude in my brain.

Black beans, chickpeas and kidney beans. A lethal combination. They really are a magical fruit.

I get apartment-smell envy. It happens when I come home from work around 6:30pm and my vegan neighbors are cooking something divine that I know is good for them. So I demolish a bag of Triscuits seconds after entering the kitchen.

But then I spend a few hours chopping, sautéing, stewing and simmering and feel loads better. Because then the entire neighborhood smells like chili and buttered biscuits and no one but my friends can have ’em.

I’m not sure if that’s the dude talking or just me.

Oh. Hot. Damn.

The cast iron skillet gets preheated in the oven and slathered in a load of butter. Then more butter gets drizzled onto the raw biscuits.

I know. Cardiac arrest. It might be worth it?

True Life: I over-mix sometimes and things come out flat. But still amazingly stupendously onolicious.

You + me = us.

Spicy Vegetarian Chili with Goat Cheese Biscuits

For the chili:

1 yellow onion, diced
4-5 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 habañero pepper, de-seeded and minced
1 zucchini, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
15oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
28oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable stock (or cheap beer)
2 heaping tablespoons chili powder
1 heaping teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
1/3 cup barbeque sauce
2 more cups vegetable stock

Heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers and zucchini and saute for another few minutes until they are slightly soft. Add the garlic, habañero and all of the spices and cook for a few minutes before adding 1 cup of stock or beer for a rapid searing. Make sure you scrape off all the spices from the bottom of the pan.

As soon as the liquid stops simmering, add the canned tomatoes, barbeque sauce and additional vegetable stock and let simmer for about 15 minutes. Top with cheddar or Monterey jack cheese.

Serves six.

For the biscuits:

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for the pan
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted for a glaze
4 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup buttermilk (or regular milk)

Preheat the oven and cast iron skillet to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter and goat cheese, making sure not to over-mix. It should resemble coarse meal.

Make a well in the mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Using a fork, lightly fluff until no pockets of flour remain.

Take the cast iron out of the oven and melt one tablespoon of unsalted butter until the pan is completely coated. Spoon about 1/4 cup worth of batter dollops into the pan, leaving about half an inch of space between every piece. They will bake into each other. It’s okay.

Bake for about 17 minutes or until the top turns golden brown.

Makes about 9 biscuits.