Currently at the moment I am a little obsessed with The Lost Kitchen. I discovered The Lost Kitchen last year in an article in Martha Stewart Living magazine and was captivated by this photo.
Isn’t it just stunning? Thus ensued my admiration for the story behind The Lost Kitchen. On the surface is this beautiful historic mill, that alone captivated my interest over and over again. I have a distinct love for all things old. It is my secret dream to restore a historic home or building someday and make it into a bed & breakfast or restaurant of some sort. But this story goes deeper. When you dive into the layers of grit and determination that owner Erin French persevered through to cultivate her dream of this quaint kitchen, you come to understand it’s magical nature.
First and foremost, I love the fact that cook Erin French is self taught. My admiration tends to lean towards cooks and bakers of this nature probably due to the fact that I am self taught too. I think with the right amount of willpower, you can learn anything if you set your mind to it.
I was so excited to get my copy of Erin French’s first cookbook titled The Lost Kitchen. The photos are spectacular and the recipes are even more inspiring. Summer is the perfect time to soak up this cookbook because of its focus on coastal, New England flavors. When I was little I grew up going to Cape Cod every summer, so part of me always craves the ocean air, salty smells and fresh seafood slathered in butter this time of year. This cookbook captures that feeling.
The Lost Kitchen spotlights many of the local produce and ingredients from the surrounding areas of Freedom, Maine, which adds a unique sense of culture to the restaurant. I can’t say that I have had the chance to eat at this picturesque restaurant yet (their reservations for the summer book up in hours) so getting the cookbook was the next best thing!
So when my mother-in-law brought me her stash of rhubarb, I knew The Lost Kitchen’s rhubarb spoon cake was the perfect conquest.
I added strawberries to the spoon cake, because I love rhubarb with strawberries. AND I had these amazing aromatic strawberries glaring at me. They were literally calling my name, so in they went. The rhubarb compote is the star of this cake. Cooking the rhubarb with the sugar and lemon really pulls out the sweetness of the rhubarb. The cake is light and airy and the robust rhubarb flavors truly shine. We enjoyed this cake warm but stored it in the refrigerator to savor cold later.
Cheers to Erin French and the slow, creeping start to the summer! I hope I can incorporate more New England flavors into my cooking this summer, thanks to my admiration of The Lost Kitchen! Feel free to watch this video to learn more about The Lost Kitchen here.
Rhubarb-Strawberry Spoon Cake
3 c. chopped rhubarb (1-inch pieces)
⅔ c. sugar
1 t. grated lemon zest
2 t. fresh lemon juice
2 t. cornstarch
In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the rhubarb, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly until the rhubarb becomes tender and sauce-like, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. This will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
RHUBARB SPOON CAKE
8 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
1 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
2 t. baking powder
½ c. sugar
½ t. salt
1 large egg
1 t. vanilla extract
½ c. whole milk
¼ c. sour cream
7 strawberries, sliced
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, with butter and flour, shaking out any excess flour. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla, milk, sour cream, and melted butter. Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry until just incorporated.
Pour about two-thirds of the compote into the greased skillet and spread evenly. Pour the cake batter over it, spread evenly, then dollop the remaining compote over the top. Add cut strawberries onto the top. Use a butter knife to swirl together the batter and compote.
Bake until a cake tester or knife inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes. I like to serve this warm, directly from the skillet, with a big spoon and a bowl of whipped cream to dollop on top.
Reprinted from The Lost Kitchen: Recipes and a Good Life Found in Freedom, Maine. Copyright © 2017 by Erin French. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Nicole Franzen. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.