Tuesday, June 2, 2009

my mother's rhubarb

When I was just back in Massachusetts a couple weeks visiting my family I couldn't wait to check out my mother's garden. I was definitely a little early because there wasn't much there besides some mint, a few chives and my mother's favorite, a small patch of rhubarb. When we were kids, my sister used to go and pull a stalk straight out of the ground, wash it under the garden hose and eat it raw. I remember her lips used to turn bright red and swell. She loved the tartness. I tried it once, almost died and was convinced she might be crazy!

Rhubarb is great stuff though. Don't be tempted by the extravagant, lush green leaves. They contain extraordinary amounts of oxalic acid and are highly toxic. The stalks are full of good stuff like lots of vitamin C, they're great for the digestion and low in calories, about 25 calories for a whole cup. Contrary to what most people think, rhubarb is a vegetable.

It's very cool that rhubarb ripens at about the same time as strawberries so they're a natural together. The sweetness of the strawberries seems to soften the tartness of rhubarb. Two favorites that I go back to again and again at this time of year are strawberry rhubarb crisp and strawberry rhubarb sorbet. A new one I am crazy about this year is warm strawberry rhubarb compote with thick Greek yogurt drizzled with Greek honey!

Hey just curious... why does strawberry always go before the rhubarb?


3/4 pound rhubarb, about 4 cups, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 ½ pounds strawberries, about 5 to 6 cups, halved
1 ½ to 2 cups sugar

2 cups strawberries,halved
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Cassis (optional)

In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, place the rhubarb and 2 tablespoons water. Cover and cook until the rhubarb starts to fall apart, 3 minutes. Remove the cover, decrease the heat to medium low, and simmer the rhubarb until very tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Cool 10 to 15 minutes.

Puree the rhubarb and the strawberries together in the blender until completely smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Measure the strawberry rhubarb puree. For each 4 cups of puree, measure 1 ½ cups sugar.

Pour approximately one-quarter of the strawberry rhubarb puree into a small saucepan. Add the correct amount of sugar to the saucepan and heat the pan over medium high heat until it bubbles around the edges and the sugar is dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the hot puree to the remaining puree. Refrigerate until well chilled.

Freeze the sorbet according to your particular ice cream machine

Thirty minutes before serving, for the sauce, in a bowl, toss together the strawberries, sugar and Cassis.

To serve, scoop the sorbet into serving bowls and spoon the sauce over the top. Serve immediately.

Serves 8


1 pound rhubarb
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups strawberries, washed and halved
1 pint Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons Greek Honey

In the meantime, trim the end from the rhubarb. Remove any green leaves. Cut the rhubarb stalks into 1-inch pieces. Mix together the rhubarb and sugar in a saucepan over low heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb is soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the strawberries and cook an additional 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

Spoon the compote into dessert dishes. Top with a spoonful of yogurt and drizzle the honey over the top. Serve immediately.

Serves 6


crisp topping:
3/4 cup pecans, toasted
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

Strawberry rhubarb filling:
1 1/2 pounds rhubarb stalks, ends trimmed, 1" pieces
2 cups strawberries, hulled, halved
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
Vanilla Ice Cream

Place the nuts in the food processor and pulse several times until 1/4-inch pieces. Remove the nuts and reserve. In another bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar and nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients and butter to the food processor and pulse until it just begins to hold together. Add the nuts and pulse 3 to 4 more times until mixed.

Preheat an oven to 375°F.

In a bowl, toss together the rhubarb, strawberries, flour and sugar until well mixed. Place the fruit in a 2 to 2 1/2 qt. gratin dish and sprinkle the crisp topping evenly onto the top. Bake in the middle of the oven until a skewer inserted into the center goes in without any resistance, the top is golden and it is bubbling around the edges, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes before serving.

To serve, spoon the crisp into individual dessert dishes and serve with ice cream.

Serves 8


Tribecamom said...

Hi Joanne,
I have always LOVED rhubarb. We have a huge patch at my dad's summer house in Nova Scotia and my mom made the best desserts with it. Thank you for the memory, and the recipe for this crisp which I am making tonight.
Monica Forrestall

Roy Clan said...

I absolutely love rhubarb! Strawberry rhubarb cobbler was my favorite dessert that my grandmother made! I cannot wait to try your recipe.

The curly headed girl from Sunset Winery, Jennifer


e_susan94 said...

Joanne, I love your outside photos (natural light make everything look doubly gorgeous)! Keep posting photos of what you just cooked and what is growing in the garden! I joined a CSA this year for the first time and also continue to have my garden. My boys love going out to see what is ready to eat and pop into their mouthes. :) I took a couple classes when you taught at the Sur la table store in Marlton, NJ. I don't think they hold classes anymore. :(