New South is excited to welcome our first guest contributor, Eliza Bacot. Eliza is an acute care nurse practitioner at Emory in Atlanta. Working in an environment with sick people inspired Eliza to live a healthy, clean lifestyle. Some who know her would say she is a bit obsessed with eating organic and understanding how our food is processed and manufactured in our country. When she is not working or shopping for organic, local ingredients she loves spending time with her husband and son.
The unexpected deliciousness
Let’s just say the best things happen when it is the unanticipated, the unexpected, the undeserved. So what do Serenbe, a rustic table, and rhubarb cake have in common? They are all the unexpected, sweet, local blessing that is the heart of this post.
Last July I happened upon Serenbe, an idyllic community just south of Atlanta…an agrihood or a neighborhood centered around a tightknit community and an organic farm rather than a golf course. This seems like such a lackluster description for what is quite an exquisite place to rest your bones. Oh and yes they sell the koolaid…the kind of koolaid that if you drink it you find yourself going to contract on a house you never intended to build.
So with the building of said house comes the natural progression of furnishing a rustic yet modern farmhouse. We are going local people and only handcrafted goods will do…none of these generic, China-made craptastic furnishings will do. Through chance I found a young man by the name of Clay Adams, owner of Rustic Trades Custom Furniture. We visited his shop, admired his work, watched his promo video (seriously watch it…you will cry and then buy his most expensive table for sure) and then ordered a beautiful grey, weathered table and rustic barn doors to fashion our home.
It only seemed appropriate to christen our kitchen with some sort of local dish and while I am a foodie and love to cook I am no trained chef. So I enlisted my dear chef friend Jad Driggers to come up with a recipe for a local dish straight from the farm to celebrate the opening of my kitchen.
So he says how about rhubarb cake?
I say huh? Rhubarb? Ok sure whatever you say Chef Jad. What the heck is rhubarb anyway? A vegetable? A fruit? Who knows, anyway like I said the best things come when least expected. So Jad whips up the recipe you see below using only local ingredients. What an amazing combination of sweet, tangy, and cakey goodness. What I actually loved about it was it wasn’t too sweet so you could make a completely rational assumption it could be consumed for breakfast and so I just did that the next morning with my coffee, sitting on my porch, looking out over the farm.
Enjoy this unexpected pleasure!
- 1 lb. rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces at an angle
- 1 pint strawberries, stems removed and berries halved
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus 6 tbsp. cut into medium cubes and chilled
- 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- 2 ½ cups flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ½ cup vegetable shortening
- ⅓ cup milk
- 2 eggs
- Heat oven to 375°. Combine rhubarb, strawberries, 1 cup sugar, 4 tbsp. butter, lemon juice, vanilla, and ¼ tsp. salt in a 9″ cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is melted and rhubarb and strawberries are tender and slightly caramelized, 5-6 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together remaining sugar and salt, plus flour and baking powder in a bowl. Add remaining butter and the shortening and, using your fingers, rub into flour mixture to form coarse pea-size pieces. Add milk and eggs and stir until a soft, sticky dough forms. Place spoonfuls of dough over rhubarb mixture and smooth with a nonstick spatula. Bake until the crust is golden and cooked through, about 30 minutes. Remove skillet from oven; Allow to cool or serve immediately