15 March 2010

Lady Rhubarb Strikes Again

I love rhubarb. Ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you that I'm a rhubarb freak. Rhubarb tart? Yes please. Rhubarb jam? Definitely! Rhubarb swizzle stick in a rhubarb flavored soda? Uh...sure. My best friend even calls me Lady Rhubarb (and she is Lady Sassafras, but that's a whole other story). I only know one other person who loves rhubarb more than me (not saying that there isn't someone else out there, just that I only know one). My buddy from the liquor store, J, is always begging me to bring him samples of anything I happen to make with rhubarb in it. He's even got a couple of special requests for when the season finally arrives in Oklahoma (Rhubarb-Mulberry Pie just like his grandma made).

Of all the "foods that aren't part of the food group you think they are," rhubarb is by far my favorite. Most people when asked if rhubarb is a fruit will say, "What's rhubarb?" But the rest of us would probably say, "Of course. It's used in pie, isn't it?" It's sort of like tomatoes. It's used primarily as a savory ingredient so we associate it with vegetables even though we know it's a fruit. Rhubarb is so often used for sweet dishes, even though it can be extremely tart, that it's usually associated with fruits. Here's a helpful hint if you're ever having the great fruit vs. vegetable debate (even if it's only with yourselfm I promise I won't judge you): if it has seeds on the inside, then you've got a fruit (that means avocados are also a fruit).

Now I know it's not rhubarb season yet (so close!), but this past weekend while getting some groceries for St. Patrick's Day I spied a bucket of rhubarb sitting in the produce section. It was calling to me. "Hey! You with the frizzy red hair! Take us home and make something sinfully delicious with us." Well, alright! I started thinking about the different recipes that I wanted to tackle with my lovely red stalks. I was looking at past recipes done by fellow bloggers and came across a fairly recent recipe done by Tartelette. Then I was immediately transported back to Scotland where I had the most amazing rhubarb crisp the world has ever known. I used Tartelette's Red Berries and Rhubarb Crumble as a guideline to get started but made my own version of the Scottish dessert I had back in November. I also wanted to keep it a little familiar and used my mom's recipe for the crisp topping (I'm sure it's the same as almost everyone else's, but it's what I grew up with and love so I'm using it).

Rhubarb Crisp
Recipe by Tartelette, my mom, and me (inspired by a recipe from Scotland)

For the topping:
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon (next time I'll either do cardamom like Tartelette or ginger just because)
1/2 cup butter, cut into 8 pieces

For the filling:
4 cups fresh rhubarb
2 Tbl cornstarch
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 Tbl honey

  1. For the crisp topping: Place the sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl. Add the butter pices and cut it into the dry ingredients using either a pastry blender or two knives (or you could do it the classy way and just use your hands like me, just work quickly so the butter doesn't melt; if it gets too soft, just pop the bowl into the fridge before topping).
  2. Preheat oven to 350F.
  3. For the filling: First peel the rhubarb and then slice into small pieces (use a peeler very gently so you don't pull too much flash away from the stalks).  In a large bowl, add the rhubarb, cornstarch, lemon juice and zest, and honey. Stir until well mixed being careful not to toss pieces out of the bowl (hey, it happens).
  4. Divide the mixture into ramekins or a 9x13 pan. Place an equal amount of the crisp topping on each serving. Place the crisps in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the filling starts to bubble (I started out at 20 and ended up at almost 40 minutes and still didn't end up with the coloring I wanted on top). Serve with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or vanilla custard (my favorite).
On another happy note, I got a new camera so my next recipe will have pictures from that. I know they won't be much better, but I'm enrolling in a photography class this summer to help me learn how to take better pictures. So hopefully soon I'll be bringing you much better pics.


Tulsa Gentleman said...

I love rhubarb! So when is rhubarb in season? It is not something I see very often.

Sharon's Mum Anne said...

Rhubarb takes me back in memory time. My late husband's family had a rhubarb farm here in Yorkshire. The rhubarb triangle is here in Yorks. I would call that dish a "crumble".

Sunshine said...

Bill - I think the season officially starts for us sometime in April, but I'm not positive. I'll be keeping my eyes open at the grocery stores. This particular batch came from Reasor's at 71st and Sheridan, but I've also found them at Whole Foods and Food Pyramid (at least the one at 81st and Yale). I'll let you know as soon as I start coming across it every time I'm at the store.

Anne - I had a difficult time deciding on whether to call it crisp or crumble. Crisp won out because I used my mom's topping that she puts on what she calls apple crisp which is just my nana's recipe for apple pie filling with the topping my mom makes.