I don’t do pies. I just don’t. Maybe you have to grow up with pies and learn to make them with your mother or your grandmother…
Tarts, however, that’s another story. Maybe because they are easier to make than pies? I mean, you certainly can gussy up a tart, but as its most basic it’s fruit, a bit of sugar and one layer of pastry shell. The pastry can be an all-purpose short crust, a sweet short crust, or puff pastry. or whatever you can get together. The filling is nothing more than fresh seasonal fruit sprinklered with sugar and baked, or a slim layer of fruit jam or fruit compote baked and topped with fresh fruit. You could even use custard or creme patissière that can be flavored ad infinitum (That’s getting into gussying it up, by the way). The fruit can be cooked or uncooked. The dough can be prepared well ahead… You can even turn them upside down! How flexible is that? Read more
Or maybe it’ll be “A Year In Rhubarb”, given the voracity with which I am acquiring stalks for the kitchen. I can’t help it: there are so many plump juicy stems for sale… I have to make up for years of deprivation, you know: there was no rhubarb growing on the tropical island where I spent my childhood.
I am hearing from growers that this year’s wet cool spring has done wonder for rhubarb. Unfortunately, the cool spring is ending this week as we not-so-gently steam and wilt with the thermometer reaching 90 degrees ( 32 C). The wet part is still on though with copious rain showers every day – rather tropical, really. What that will do for rhubarb is anybody’s guess, but I am furiously buying rhubarb. Close to 30 pounds to date, and few weeks to go still…
It’s been fun. I’ve made ice-cream (several batches and settled on proportions I like), sorbet, syrup, cordial, compote, tartelettes, fresh strawberry & ginger rhubarb tart, jam (some with elder blossom cordial, some with vanilla bean and some with fresh ginger root), rhubarb strudel (or was that baklava?) as well as fresh rhubarb chutney (delicious with a rack of lamb). And frozen a bunch, should I suddenly have a craving for rhubarb. It could happen.
It’s about time I share some recipes… so… on today’s episode we’ll learn to cook rhubarb once and make no less than 4 dishes! We’ll delve into the secret lives of rhubarb (oh… wait… we did that already!). Oh, well, then we’ll … learn how to coax the juice from those stalks without turning them into mush and we’ll make first a happy rosy syrup, and then a sweet and even happier little cordial. Read more
Until recently I thought tender all-summer long rhubarb was available only in place like England, the Pacific Northwest or Maine. Places with cool and moist summers. Places like Vachon Island where my blog pal Tom of Tall Clover Farm harvest armfuls upon armfuls of crimson stemmed monsters. Makes me turn green with envy…
I was convinced that rhubarb in Virginia was a fleeting all-too brief treasure, the plants sending flowers forth as soon as it got too hot and then considerably slowing down for the summer. Because this denizen of the mountains of Central Asia likes it cool. And since we rarely have a real long cool even-temperatured spring here (let alone a mild summer!), I thought: in Virginia you got rhubarb in May and that was it.
Anyway, that is indeed what I thought until very very recently. Until last week as a matter of fact. Read more
| Tags: rhubarb
Since our most recent honey harvest yielded close to 15 quarts, I am experimenting with honey as a sweetener. We are so used to the taste of sugar that we don’t really taste it any more, we only taste the sweetness. Honey on the other hand has a depth of flavor that some palates find too potent. But pair it with a complementary yet assertive enough flavor, and you’ve got a winner. And in the spring we’ve got… rhubarb, beautiful, tart, versatile, perennial rhubarb!!!
I used not to care for rhubarb, having been subjected to too many over-sweet strawberry rhubarb pies with less than stellar crusts. So it took me quite a while to embrace its sourness, so welcomed after winter. In comparison with fresh tamarind, a fruit of my childhood, rhubarb’s sour bite is actually quite gentle. No wonder I don’t want its tartness to be disguised by too much sugar. Read more