Mrs. Wheelbarrow Dishes About Her New Cookbook & Rugelach

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MrsWheelbarrow

It may come as no surprise that we here at Eat Boutique are wild about the fine art of preserving foods, and simply can’t get enough of innovative ways to save seasonal items for year-round enjoyment. This is why we’re absolutely in awe of Mrs. Wheelbarrow, aka Cathy Wheelbarrow, and her new cookbook, Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year Round Preserving. The book is filled with the recipes one would expect of a preserving resource, such as jams, pickles, and such, but it also offers techniques on curing meats and making cheese. Plus, you will find 36 bonus recipes that offer inspiration on how to use the preserves you’ve just created, such as the salmon and grain salad with red onion quickles (pictured below).

Since we had to know more about the person behind the preserves, we asked Mrs. Wheelbarrow to answer a few questions about herself, as well as give us a small taste (Rugelach recipe below!) of what’s cooking in her book.

Tell us about Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry and what inspired you to write your first cookbook.

I was inspired by all the students who came through my kitchen yearning to learn about preserving. When they came for a class, they got it. I could see it in their eyes. And I wanted to encourage more people to take up preserving in small or large ways. Preserving, for me, is the only way we can eat locally year round: it’s an activity that directly supports the local farmer. Besides, it’s delicious.

What did writing your very own cookbook teach you about yourself or your cooking style?

I’ve always been an adventurous cook, and I’ve never been terribly good at hewing to a recipe, but preserving is a science and requires the cook to take care and stop riffing. Writing the details into the recipes taught me to be more precise. Now, I can make a recipe three times and it tastes and behaves exactly the same every time. It took discipline to stop making alterations.

What’s the very first recipe you’d like us to tackle in the cookbook — something that will hook us in?

That really depends on whether you’re a salty or sweet person. If salty, make the Fennel, Orange and Olive Pickle. It’s amazing and different and beautiful. A great hostess gift.  And if you love sweets? Make the Raspberry Violette Jam. It’s awesome and very easy to make. And if you’ve already done all the pickle and jam making, then make bacon. Or cultured butter. Oh, heck, make all of it.

What motivates you to do what you do in the kitchen?

Ha! I’m hungry all the time! I’m eating breakfast and thinking about dinner. I love cooking food for my husband and anyone else I can wrangle to the table. Nothing makes me happier than seeing other people happily eating food I have prepared.

grainsalad

What’s one of your favorite things to preserve for the pantry?

It’s hard to pick a favorite. I’m fickle, so I’m going to tell you about what I’m doing right now. I’ve been smoking oysters. This is a recipe that took months to develop. I knew what I wanted it to taste like, but had no idea how to get that flavor. After more than 30 different iterations, I finally got an oyster I loved. I hope you’ll try this recipe. I’m so proud of it.

What’s the easiest food to preserve this fall?

Many of the recipes in my book take only about an hour. So there are a lot of choices, especially in the meat (bacon!?) and cheese (ricotta!?) chapters. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been making Caramel Pear Preserves like it’s going out of style. It’s a completely easy recipe, totally delicious and not too sweet, so it works equally well with breakfast or with cheese. And of course, Whole-Cranberry Raspberry Sauce? Gotta have that.

Please share a little preservation advice to inspire a home cook.

If you have never preserved, start with a food you love. Maybe it’s dill pickles, or mascarpone, but learn to make that one food. When you make something you adore that is so delicious, you’ll be hooked. Mango chutney was my gateway preserving project.

What’s one of the best homemade food gifts you’ve ever received?

Kate Hill made a birthday ham. She started it on her birthday and it was hanging in her curing space for a year. I got to taste it when I visited Gascony last spring. It wasn’t a gift, per se, but oh my goodness, it was a stunning homemade food. Stunning. And I consider that a gift.

What’s next for Mrs. Wheelbarrow?

I’m happy to keep writing about all the things that capture my attention. I’m focused on preserving, sure, but I have a zillion ideas for stories about the entire world of food. I thrive on the opportunity to write long form pieces in magazines and the discipline of tight newspaper stories. And I adore developing new recipes. It’s so much fun. I have an idea for Book 2, but I want to put a lot of effort into getting out there with this book. I’m not quite ready to start on the next one.

rugelach apricot

Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Rugelach

Editor’s Note: These choose-your-own-filling rugelach make the perfect gift. And we just happen to have just the thing to wrap them up in style for those you love.

If I could only eat one cookie for the rest of my life, it would be rugelach. There is so much to love about these rolled-up nuggets. If you’re anything like me and might have a hard time stopping at one, two, or three, store the unbaked cookies in an airtight container in the freezer, then remove just what you want to eat and bake (a toaster oven works fine). Make the cream cheese dough ahead; it needs to chill well, or it will be challenging under the rolling pin. Work quickly when rolling, slicing, and forming the cookies to keep the dough cold. Then freeze the unbaked rugelach for another few hours. They must be chilled before baking, or the very rich dough will lose its shape in the oven. The filling recipe uses only preserves, nuts, and bread crumbs, so the flavor possibilities are endless. Omit the nuts if you wish, but I like them for the texture they bring to this sweet, silky, crunchy treat. Any preserves will work, but the best results come from smooth-textured jam. If you want to use a jam that is loose and runny or has large chunks of fruit, blend, chop, or crush the fruit and warm the jam to create a thicker, smoother texture, then cool completely before using. – Mrs. Wheelbarrow

Favorite Filling Combinations

  • Raspberry jam and macadamia nuts
  • Apricot jam and almonds
  • Plum jam and hazelnuts
  • Pear jam and walnuts
  • Bacon-Onion Jam and salted roasted peanuts

Makes: 16 cookies

Prep Time: 2 Hours

Ingredients:

For the dough
  • 4 ounces (110 grams) cream cheese, homemade (recipe provided in the book) or store-bought
  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces, 110 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (4 1/4 ounces., 125 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
For the filling
  • 1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces, 40 grams) toasted nuts (see suggestions below), finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soft fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz., 120 ml) any preserves
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten

Directions:

  1. To make the dough, cut the butter and cream cheese into 1-inch cubes. Place the butter, cream cheese, flour, and salt in a metal bowl and freeze for 30 minutes.
  2. Transfer the chilled ingredients to a food processor and pulse until the dough forms a shaggy ball, about 20 pulses. Alternatively, cut the butter and cream cheese into the flour with a pastry cutter or two table knives to combine. Scrape the moist, sticky dough onto a floured countertop and form into a 6-inch disk. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment. In a small bowl, mix together the nuts, sugar, and bread crumbs.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 9-inch circle. Spread the jam across the surface of the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle the nut mixture over the jam.
  5. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the disk into 16 wedges. Starting from the wide end of the long triangle, roll each segment up and press on the pointy end to seal. Place seam side down on the baking sheet and place the pan in the freezer for at least 2 hours. (Once frozen hard, the rugelach can be transferred to zip-lock bags and kept frozen for up to 6 months.)
  6. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush the egg yolk gently on the tops of the cookies. Place another baking sheet under the cookie-filled sheet. (Stacking will keep the rugelach from burning on the bottom.)Bake for 22 to 25 minutes. The nuts and jam will have squished out a little and be a little messy; that’s okay. The bottoms of the rugelach should be caramelized, not burned. Transfer to a rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.
  7. Stored between layers of wax paper in a tightly covered container, rugelach keep well for up to 3 weeks.
Photos courtesy of Maggie, Christopher Hirsheimer, and Melissa Hamilton.

Eat Boutique was an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista – an author, business guide and alignment seeker. After hosting retail markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie now supports entrepreneurs as they create values-based businesses through We Are Magic StudioFollow Maggie Battista on Instagram.

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