Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Birthday Celebration for van Gogh

Vincent Willem van Gogh (1853-1890) was a post-Impressionist painter of Dutch origin whose work, notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty and bold color, had a far-reaching influence on 20th-century art. Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime Red Vineyard at Arles. This painting now resides at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. The rest of Van Gogh's more than 900 paintings were not sold or made famous until after his death. His works included self portraits, landscapes, still lifes, portraits and paintings of cypresses, wheat fields and sunflowers. His oil paintings and drawings are now some of the world's best known and most expensive works of art. 
Van Gogh moved to Arles in 1888 and stayed one year. He hoped Arles would be a refuge for him since he was ill from drink and suffering from smoker's cough. Van Gogh was enchanted by the local landscape and light, and his works from the period are richly draped in yellow, ultramarine and mauve. His portrayals of the Arles landscape are influenced by his Dutch upbringing; the patchwork of fields and avenues appear flat and lack perspective, but excel in their intensity of color.The vibrant light in Arles excited him, and his new found appreciation is seen in the range and scope of his work
Cafe Terrace at Night (1888)
Which brings me to this van Gogh painting.  When we were in Arles, France several years ago this photo below shows the same cafe where supposedly van Gogh painted the picture.
As a side note in Dutch the van is in lowercase unless beginning a sentence.   
So try to imagine yourself in this quaint little town sipping on your espresso, eating  a spring treat and enjoying the people watching. 
Happy Birthday Vincent van Gogh March 30, 1853 - July 29, 1890
Strawberry-Rhubarb Bars  
Cook's notes. This easy strawberry-rhubarb bar recipe will get your taste buds ready for spring. The recipe is adapted from and makes 16 bars.

  •  1- 1/2 c. sliced fresh or frozen rhubarb 
  • 1 c. sliced fresh strawberries, plus more for garnish 
  • 1/2 c. plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided 
  • 3 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt 
  • 1 c. plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, divided 
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) cold butter, cut into pieces 
  • 2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks 
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon zest 
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 5 drops red food coloring
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
  • Combine rhubarb, strawberries, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until fruit is softened and beginning to break down, 2 to 4 minutes. Cool.
  • Meanwhile, pulse confectioners’ sugar, salt, and 1 cup flour in a food processor until combined, 4 to 5 times. Add butter, and pulse until a coarse meal forms, 10 to 12 times. Press mixture firmly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake until golden around edges, 16 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
  • Puree rhubarb mixture in a food processor until very smooth, about 1 minute. Add in eggs, egg yolks, zest, and 1/3 cup granulated sugar, almond extract  and process until smooth, 15 to 20 seconds. Add food coloring and 3 tablespoons flour and pulse just until smooth. Pour over crust.
  • Bake until set, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Chill at least 2 hours or up to 1 day. Cut into squares. Garnish with sliced strawberries with  dusting of confectioners sugar. 

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