Sunday lunch


Each spring,  the rhubarb in my garden re-emerges in a glorious whorl of stalks and leaves. Last Sunday I cautiously picked a  bunch to make rhubarb muffins.

Several years ago, I was preparing a dinner party and planned to make roasted rhubarb and strawberries for dessert.  As I picked rhubarb from the vigorous plant growing next to my compost pile, I was bitten by a small rattlesnake hidden in the tight mass of stalks.  Now, I am cautious and poke into the plant with a stick  to be sure no unwelcome creature is hiding there.  After my encounter, I reclaimed the plant by making the above painting.

These muffins were inspired by those we once had at Xoco, a Rick Bayless breakfast spot in Chicago, where we exhibited annually at ArtChicago.  The combination of anise, corn and vanilla intrigued me and I figured out a recipe when we got home. Here it is:

First, with caution, pick the rhubarb, then clean and cut  into 1/2 inch bits ─ enough for two cups.


cut rhubarb






For the muffins:

Combine 1 cup of cornmeal and 1 cup of unbleached flour with 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon anise seeds.

Stir in 1 cup of milk, (whatever you have ─ even unsweetened almond or soy milk), 6 tablespoons canola oil, 1 large egg and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Add the rhubarb. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full with the batter, distributing the rhubarb chunks evenly.  I like to pour the batter into buttered cups in order to get a nice brown crust.  Use muffin papers if you like.  Bake at 400° for 20 minutes.  Let cool on a rack for a few minutes before unmolding.  These are a bit delicate.  This makes 12-14 muffins.

muffin tinrhubarb muffins

While preparing the muffins my mind wandered to other recipes that include anise. Look for the Bizcochitos and Lisa’s Almond Biscotti recipes in How I Learned To Cook, An Artist’s Life.

Another great match with anise seed are these golden beets.


I steam whole beets until tender for about 30-40 minutes, depending on their size.  When cool enough to handle, I peel them and cut into batons about 1/2 inch wide.  For three medium beets, I add the juice and zest from 1/2 a lemon, a little salt, 1/2 teaspoon anise seed and a tablespoon or two of olive oil to the warm beets. Taste and adjust the seasoning. These are a great addition to a salad or alongside a sandwich or a spinach quiche.


For our Sunday lunch I prepared a salad to go with the rhubarb muffins.

I had cooked some Alubia Blanca beans from Rancho Gordo and combined a cup and a half of them with a vinaigrette made of red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, olive oil, a big pinch of hot red pepper flakes, the zest of 1/2 a lemon and chopped parsley. If your beans are cold, warm them a little before marinating.  Canned beans are okay but nothing like the Rancho Gordos.

beans and parsley

For the salad, I combined some wild arugula (sprouting everywhere in my garden) with torn butter lettuce leaves, avocado chunks, a little diced salami, and halved cherry tomatoes.  I dressed this simply with olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice.  The beans went into the center of the greens and I crumbled some feta over all.  And there was lunch.

sunday lunch

Top: Spring Rhubarb, oil on canvas, 18 x 18 inches

2 thoughts on “Sunday lunch

  1. Somehow I get to read your posts sipping my coffee on a Sunday morning. Such enjoyment! It takes me to a happy, delicious place filled with friends, art and food. Ahhh…


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