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  • Writer's picturedeborahreinhardt

A classic coffee cake gets a fruity update with spring rhubarb and sweet, red cherries.

coffee cake with rhubarb topped with bing cherries and whipped cream
Rhubarb and Cherry Buckle

Of all the spring fruits and vegetables available to us, I wonder if rhubarb is the wallflower of the group? Whenever I’m in the checkout lane, I see people with boxes of strawberries or maybe some spring greens, but nobody is carrying rhubarb to their cars.

Am I weird to get tickled when I spot beautiful pink stalks of rhubarb in the market? Oh, what can I do with these beauties that I found at The Summit market in Kirkwood, Missouri? Should I go with the classic strawberry-rhubarb pie or try a new savory dish? I decided to update an old-fashioned cake with this misunderstood culinary ingredient and made a wonderful Rhubarb and Cherry Buckle.

Even if you’re a novice baker, making a buckle is within your wheelhouse. A buckle simply is a cake baked with fruit. They’re called “buckles” because the streusel topping often causes the top of the cake to fall in the middle. It’s a dense, moist cake that’s perfect any time of day, whether it’s enjoyed with your morning coffee (like I did last week) or to cap off an evening meal (OK, like I did last week, too).

Historically, I think buckles get confused with cobblers and crisps, but I see these as separate desserts, although all feature luscious fruit. Cobblers have dough dotted over the fruit (resembling a cobblestone street) and fruit crisps have a streusel topping that includes flour and oats.

Buckles, as far as I can tell, are an old New England dessert that date to the 1700s. The most traditional of buckles feature blueberries, for which New England is well known. It’s delightful to take a bite of this cake and experience a burst of fresh fruit in your mouth! Blackberries would be wonderful in a buckle, as would strawberries. But I wanted to feature seasonal rhubarb and pair it with sweet, red frozen cherries. Raspberries could also be a good pairing with rhubarb.

While not a fruit, rhubarb often is used in pies, cakes, muffins, and other desserts. A rhubarb simple syrup is a fantastic base for a cocktail, too. A member of the Polygonaceae family, rhubarb is more closely related to buckwheat than celery.

To make my Rhubarb and Cherry Buckle, which yields eight servings, you’ll need these ingredients:

  • 2 stalks fresh rhubarb

  • 1½ cups frozen cherries, thawed

  • 2 ounces butter

  • ¾ cup sugar

  • 1/3 cup milk

  • 1 egg

  • 2 cups flour

  • 1 tsp lemon zest

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg

For the streusel topping, you’ll need:

  • 1/3 cup flour

  • 2 ounces cold butter

  • ½ cup brown sugar

Directions for Rhubarb and Cherry Buckle

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Wash rhubarb and cut lengthwise in half. Chop the vegetable into bite-size pieces and place in a medium saucepan. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over rhubarb and simmer until vegetable starts to soften but still retains its shape. Drain but save the liquid for other use if desired.

To make the cake, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Set aside.

Cream the remaining sugar with room-temperature butter. Add egg and beat one minute. Add half the dry mixture, then milk, and remaining flour mixture.

Add vanilla and lemon zest. If you don’t have a fresh lemon, use ½ teaspoon lemon extract.

Fold in the rhubarb and drained cherries. Pour into buttered 9-inch round cake pan. Save the cherry juice if you’d like to use later. I mixed one part juice with two parts sparkling water for a refreshing drink I enjoyed while the buckle was in the oven.

To make the streusel, combine the brown sugar, flour, and cold butter that’s been cut into small cubes. Work the mixture with a pastry cutter (or use your hands) until it’s combined, and the butter is about the size of peas.

Sprinkle the topping over the cake batter. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

You can serve a slice of Rhubarb and Cherry Buckle with a scoop of ice cream or top with whipped cream. What a wonderful spring treat!

Can buckle be frozen?

Yes! I froze about half the cake to enjoy later (which showed amazing restraint on my part.) Slice the cake into desired servings and wrap in parchment paper. Place each slice into a zip-top bag and freeze for up to four weeks.

I hope you’ll bake yourself a buckle soon, whether it’s with rhubarb and cherries or some spring or summer berries. Our colonists certainly knew what they were doing, and I salute their creativity!


Another classic dessert for you that incorporates rhubarb

Here’s another twist on an old-fashioned cake. Rhubarb and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake is a good balance between tart rhubarb and sweet pineapple. So good!

About the blog

Three Women in the Kitchen is an award-winning food blog offering today’s home cooks comforting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.

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  • Writer's picturedeborahreinhardt

Farm-fresh spinach combines with eggs, cheddar cheese, and creamy milk to make a beautiful meal to enjoy any time of day.

spinach, cheese and sausage quiche with a cup of coffee on counter
Fresh Spinach and Cheese Quiche is a great way to begin your day.

Don’t you love the month of May? Spring is in full swing, flowers are blooming, and gardens are beginning to yield the first fruits. Here’s a big thank you to our farmers who work to put food on our tables.

This month, I’m highlighting some local farmers and farmers’ markets in my area, and I’ll bet you can find similar products where you live. I’m starting my Bountiful May Markets series at Theis Farm and Market where I found some gorgeous, tender spring spinach that I used in my Fresh Spinach and Cheddar Quiche.

The Theis family farm dates to 1885. In April, I visited the location in Maryland Heights, Missouri, a St. Louis suburb, but there are two additional market locations (St. Charles and north St. Louis County). My visit was a bit ahead of their great selection of locally grown produce, but the plants and garden herbs were plentiful. I picked up lettuce, basil, parsley, and lemon thyme plants to take home, and so far, they are doing great on my back patio! They were reasonably priced, too.

three grow bags on patio with various vegetable plants
Some of the plants I purchased from Theis Farm. This is my first attempt at grow bag gardening!

Rhubarb was going to be ready the week after my visit, according to the friendly employee I talked with, and strawberries should be in the market in May. But there was some beautiful large-leaf spinach that was evergreen in color and had a sweeter note. The flavor was more intense than the generic baby spinach so often sold in supermarkets (and less expensive, too). So, I bought a bag and knew I was going to enjoy a quiche for dinner.

Remember when quiche was the “it dish,” especially with the ladies-who-lunch crowd? A classic quiche always works for any meal, and I love them because you can start with the basic recipe and then add whatever you’d like. Let’s get to cooking!

To make my Fresh Spinach with Cheese Quiche, which yields six servings, you’ll need these ingredients for a basic pie:

  • 1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crust

  • 2 cups (2-percent) milk or cream

  • 3 eggs

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

  • Pinch of nutmeg

To the basic recipe (above), you can add your choice of meat, vegetable, and cheese. I chose the following:

  • ½ cup shredded mild cheddar cheese

  • 2 chicken sausages

  • 1 cup fresh spinach, cooked

  • Optional fresh parsley for garnish

Directions for Fresh Spinach and Cheese Quiche

The thing about spinach is you must really clean it. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), germs can cling to crevices in leafy greens, and if you eat greens that haven’t been thoroughly washed, you can become ill.

I like to fill a large bowl with cold water and submerge the spinach for about 30 minutes. Then I carefully lift the greens out of the water and rinse again under cool running water for a few minutes. As you can see in the above photos, there's a lot of dirt on spinach, so don't skip this step!

The CDC says there’s no need to use lemon juice, vinegar, or produce wash when cleaning spinach. Just gently shake the excess water off and spread the cleaned leaves on a baking tray lined with a clean kitchen towel. Before storing cleaned spinach, make sure it’s dry and wrap in a paper towel before placing in a zip-top bag. Plan to use spinach within a couple of days for best results.

While the spinach is soaking, bring a roll of the prepared pie dough out of the refrigerator and set on the counter. It’s easier to work with when at room temperature.

Next, slice the chicken sausages (your favorite brand/flavor) into coins and lightly brown in a skillet sprayed with non-stick. Remove from pan and set aside.

To the same pan, add the spinach and cook until it’s completely wilted. Salt to taste.

Mix the ingredients for basic quiche in a separate bowl.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Time to build the quiche! Take the pie dough out of the wrapper and carefully unroll on a lightly floured board. If there are any tears, you can gently roll it back into shape with a rolling pin. Transfer the dough to your 9-inch pie pan and shape it along the sides. Prick the bottom a few times with a fork.

Arrange the cooked sausage pieces on the bottom of pan. Evenly spread the shredded cheese. If you don’t have cheddar, substitute with Swiss or even mozzarella.

Pour the custard mixture over sausage and cheese and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. The top will be golden brown. If you want to be certain of doneness, insert a knife blade near the edge of the pie pan. If it comes out clean, the custard will be solid all the way through.

Cool quiche on a wire rack for at least 5 minutes before cutting and serving. Sprinkle with fresh parsley to garnish if desired.

Can quiche be frozen?

Yes! It’s best to slice the quiche into desired serving portions, wrap each slice in foil, and add the pieces to a zip-top freezer bag. It should keep up to a month. Reheat the quiche in an oven (300–325 degrees F) for about 10 minutes on a baking sheet while wrapped in foil. Loosen the foil and bake another 5 minutes.

Quiche also can be stored for a few days in the refrigerator, so I typically never have enough left over to freeze!

My mom and I sometimes visited area tea rooms for Saturday lunch, including the now-closed carriage house restaurant at the Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion. Do any of you remember their restaurant? It had a delightful quiche luncheon plate. Today, whenever I take a bite of quiche, I remember those lovely Saturday afternoons with Mom. Maybe you have a similar memory of a special lunch with your mother.

Fresh Spinach and Cheese Quiche would also make a beautiful meal for your mom this Mother’s Day. Give it a try and let me know how your quiche turned out!


Here's another recipe for quiche

This easy recipe that features zucchini instead of spinach. As it’s a bit early for zucchini to be in season in Missouri, you could roast asparagus and swap it for the squash.

About the blog

Three Women in the Kitchen is an award-winning food blog offering today’s home cooks comforting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.

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  • Writer's picturedeborahreinhardt

This bright, dairy-free spring soup is ready in 30 minutes to enjoy warmed or chilled.

Soup made with carrots, onions, orange juice and chicken stock on white tables cape
Low-Fat Carrot and Orange Soup

If you live in the St. Louis metro area, you probably remember The Elsah Landing Restaurant. Nestled against the Mississippi River bluffs in the hamlet of Elsah, Illinois, the restaurant was known for its homemade soup, bread, salads, and desserts. Even in the 1980s, it was a destination restaurant that had become popular enough to support a second location in the fashionable suburb of Frontenac, Missouri, close to the “ladies who lunch.” Sadly, both locations are closed.

Mom and I visited the Illinois location a few times, and I hold warm memories of the little day trips we sometimes took on Saturdays. It was our time, and it was special. On one of those outings to Elsah, Mom picked up a copy of the restaurant’s cookbook, and we often enjoyed a recipe from it. One of my favorites is Orange Carrot Soup.

Forty years ago, this was something exotic to me! But this low-fat soup is such a comforting bowl that’s made even more delicious by starting with a homemade chicken stock. The chicken schmaltz is the only fat in the soup, and if you skim it (as I did), there’s less fat. In fact. there's less than 3 grams of fat per serving!

This dish has the consistency of homemade tomato soup but without the acid. There’s no dairy, but each spoonful is so comforting. So, let’s get cooking!

To make Low-Fat Carrot with Orange Soup recipe, which yields four servings, you’ll need these ingredients:

  • 3 cups fresh chicken stock (organic box stock also could be used)

  • 1 tablespoon chicken stock base (I like the Better than Bullion brand)

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped

  • ½ cup yellow onion, chopped

  • 1 ½ cups orange juice

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Fresh parsley for optional garnish

The original Elsah Landing Restaurant recipe added 1 teaspoon sugar (I don’t think that’s necessary) and leeks instead of onion. I rarely have leeks on hand (hate cleaning them). Mint was originally used as garnish, but mine wasn’t quite ready for harvest, so parsley filled in just fine.

Making this soup couldn’t be easier.

cup of orange-carrot soup with a cheese quesadilla on a board
Low-Fat Carrot with Orange Soup can be served chilled as shown here with a grilled cheese quesadilla.

Directions for Making Low-Fat Carrot with Orange Soup

In a medium saucepan, add chopped carrots and onions to chicken stock. Cover and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Allow the contents to cool.

Ladle small amounts into a blender and purée. Pour each puréed batch back into saucepan. Add orange juice, salt and pepper to taste. Stir until blended, garnish and serve.

I found this soup tastes best when just warmed (not piping hot) or even at room temperature or chilled.

Can Carrot with Orange Soup be frozen?

Absolutely! There’s no dairy in the soup, so you can freeze leftovers if you have any. You also could double a recipe and save some to share with a friend. It’s a healthy yet comforting meal. Pair it with a grilled cheese sandwich or simply with garlic bread and a green salad. So many good leafy greens (like butter lettuce) are coming into season now.

Other serving suggestions would be little soup “shooters” alongside a plate of chicken salad, lettuce, and fruit. What a fun lunch for friends to share.

Give Carrot with Orange Soup a try and let me know what you paired it with on your table!


Carrot casserole topped with cheesy snack crackers
Carrot Caper Casserole

Here's another tasty carrot recipe!

Carrot Caper was a favorite springtime side dish in my family. A creamy cheese sauce and crunchy butter or cheese snack crackers give one of Mom's go-to casseroles its zing.

About the blog

Three Women in the Kitchen is an award-winning food blog offering today’s home cooks comforting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.

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