Tag Archives: rhubarb

roasted strawberries + stewed rhubarb

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Summer is my time of excess.  Too many choices at the market means more greens, more zucchini, more berries than I can tackle in a week.  Weekends become packed with adventures: hiking, kayaking, boating, picnics, road trips.  Typical weekend tasks are crammed into weeknights, and suddenly on any given Thursday night I realize I have a fridge full of produce that needs to be used before Saturday morning’s farmer’s market… and that I haven’t vacuumed in two weeks… and that I haven’t slept properly in two weeks, either.  Time for another G&T.

Believe me, this is not a complaint.  Instead, here are a couple ideas to help you use up that glut of rhubarb you’ve got in the backyard or those strawberries you just had to bring home.  Last Friday morning, I picked a flat of strawberries.  For whatever reason, I had made up my mind that I needed a full flat.  Had to have it.  Then I had a million errands to run for the weekend’s canoe-and-camping trip, and I realized at 4pm that I had no clue what to do with the berries and the rhubarb on my counter… but I was leaving for the weekend.  So I fell back on an old mantra- “When in doubt, roast.”  Sweet or savory, you’ll cut through the bulk quickly, and if nothing else, it’ll prolong fridge life.

(I don’t think that’s actually an old mantra, I think I just made that up. Go with it anyway.)

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Think of these more as “guidelines” than “recipes.”  Cardamom could replace the vanilla bean, or sherry could replace the brandy, or lemon juice could replace the balsamic.  Be creative.

This is a simplified version of Heidi Swanson’s Roasted Strawberries from her Super Natural Every Day.  The balsamic vinegar really makes these an irresistible treat that should be put on top of pretty much everything.  My favorite so far: mascarpone spread across a gluten-free butter (Ritz-style) cracker and topped with a huge dollop of these strawberries. 

Roasted Strawberries
Makes a generous 1 cup (1/2 pint)

3 cups strawberries, cleaned and quartered or sliced
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons brandy (or similar liquor or liqueur, or apple juice)
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, to taste
Olive oil, approximately 1 tablespoon

Preheat oven to 350.  Clean and chop strawberries.  Stir in maple syrup and brandy.  Brush olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet, then spread out strawberries and shake lightly to even out.  Roast for 35-45 minutes, carefully stirring with a rubber spatula 2-3 times while roasting.  Remove from oven to cool.  If using balsamic vinegar, pour over the hot berries and lightly stir in.  Cool for 5 to 10 minutes and serve warm over shortcakes, biscuits, yogurt, or toast.  Store extra in a jar in the fridge for a few weeks, though they won’t likely last that long.

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I first saw this idea on Orangette a few years ago, and I tweak it slightly every summer.  I use less wine and chop my rhubarb more finely, which results in a thicker, almost stew-like rhubarb.  This preserve is amazing with tangy yogurt, some soaked or fermented oats, and a small handful of toasted nuts.  But like Molly, I tend to eat it straight from the jar, cold, with a spoon.

Stewed Rhubarb
Makes approximately 1 cup (1/2 pint)

3 cups chopped rhubarb (roughly 1/4″ to 1/2″ pieces)
1/4 cup cane sugar or caster sugar
1/4 cup red wine
1/3 to 1/2 vanilla bean

Preheat oven to 350.  In a pie pan or bread pan (or similar baking vessel), stir together the diced rhubarb, sugar, and wine.  Split the vanilla bean and nestle in both halves- no need to scrape out the seeds, most of them will be jostled out during cooking and stirring.  Roast for 35-45 minutes, stirring 3 or 4 times throughout.  Let cool for 10 minutes before serving or moving to a jar for the fridge. I personally prefer this chilled, but I imagine it would be good over warm baked oatmeal or on toast too.

DSC_1679Happy 4th, everyone.

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Filed under Condiments, etc., Desserts, Gluten-Free, Spring, Summer, Uncategorized

blubarb + buckwheat crisp (gluten-free)

It’s not too late, is it? I think we’ve got time for one more rhubarb recipe.

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This came about from a recipe that haunts me.  I first saw a link to the world’s easiest blueberry crisp last spring on Dinner: A Love Story (it’s the first link that sadly seems to be lost), and I hesitated before I put it on my weekend list.  I wanted something sweet but quick and easy, disguised as healthy (read: containing fruit), and I already had all the ingredients. But something so simple couldn’t honestly be that good, could it?  Frozen blueberries in a pie dish, a handful of panty staples haphazardly thrown together in a pot- butter, sugar, flour, oats- and popped into the oven.  But then.  45 minutes later your house smells like heaven and before you know it, you and your husband eat the whole dessert, along with a half-pint of softly-whipped cream melting into the divets of the crumble, running into the blueberry sauce, hovering over the stovetop with forks.  Seriously.  The whole thing, straight from the pan, minus a small dish that was set aside for breakfast the next morning.  Okay, not exactly set aside for breakfast… it was only for breakfast because I ate it before my husband got out of bed, because I wasn’t gong to share.  I wish I wasn’t serious.  (Oh, who am I kidding, I’m not even that ashamed, because IT IS THAT GOOD.) (Plus, it was a year ago.  I’ve matured since then.  I wouldn’t do that now, right?)

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So, the problem? Nothing, except a little gluten.  *sigh* But it’s okay, because I’m a tinkerer.  And I’m lazy.  My laziness manifests in the form of Trader Joe’s gluten-free all-purpose mix, which I love for recipes like this.  I understand that this mix is not perfect. A mix of starches and heavier flours (and yes, possibly gums) would be ideal, I’m sure.  However, that would require multiple bags and a food scale, and lots more tinkering.  In this case, laziness beat tinkering.  But in all fairness, for a crisp or a crumble, I don’t need to mimic wheat’s elasticity or tenderness – I just need bulk.  TJ’s gluten-free mix is perfect for this: not grainy, no weird aftertaste, and no gums added!

Of course I added rhubarb, because duh- it’s spring, rhubarb is everywhere, and blueberry + rhubarb is my favorite fruit combination.

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And while I was tinkering (lazy tinkering? “linkering“?), I also threw in some buckwheat.  It’s not really wheat, or even a grain- it’s a seed, and it’s in the rhubarb family- it’s got a bit of a rustic, dusty flavor.  It’s gritty and it adds some heft and chew.  And, of course, there are gluten-free oats, because a crisp is merely a crumble (and therefore inferior) without the addition of oats, in my completely unscientific and unsupported opinion.  If you’re not sure of the gluten-free-ness of oats, I’ve heard that quinoa flakes are a great substitute.  Or, if you’ve got another opinion on the necessities of crisps- chopped nuts, perhaps?- go ahead and tinker with it.

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When the berries and rhubarb cook down, they release lots of water.  Keeping an edge bare without topping around the pan will help some of that liquid evaporate, ensuring that you get a nice thick fruit filling.

Blubarb & Buckwheat Crisp
Inspired by Ruth Reichl’s Blueberry Crisp
Serves 2-8, depending on how greedy you are

In the spirit of the original, I tried to keep things fairly simple, but I did add in a little fancy by browning the butter.  If you’re in a hurry to get this in the oven, feel free to skip it.  But if you’ve got the extra 7 to 10 minutes, do it.  Browned butter and brown sugar… what could possibly go wrong?

Wild blueberries are really the key here. They’re small and sweet and juicy.  The big ones have got nothing on wild blueberries.  If you don’t like rhubarb, shame on you  just use 4 cups of frozen berries, and skip the 1/3 cup of sugar and the tapioca starch.

2 cups frozen wild blueberries
2 cups diced rhubarb
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons tapioca starch (or corn starch)
1 stick (8 tablespoons, 4 oz.) butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
sprinkle of cinnamon
pinch of cardamom and salt
2/3 cup gluten-free all purpose flour blend
1/3 cup buckwheat
1/3 cup gluten-free oats (or quinoa flakes)

Over medium heat in a medium-sized pan, melt the butter.  Once it starts sputtering, lower the heat to medium-low or even low, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently and keeping a close eye.

Meanwhile, butter a pie dish or cake pan.  Preheat your oven to 375 F.  Put the fruit in the pie dish, sprinkle with 1/3 cup sugar and the tapioca starch, and stir to coat evenly.

Once the butter has separated and the solids on the bottom have turned golden brown, turn off the burner and remove the pan from heat.  Stir in the brown sugar vigorously.  Add the cinnamon, cardamom, salt, AP flour, and buckwheat, and stir well.  Finally, stir in the oats.  Scoop the topping over the top of the fruit in the dish, and use the back of the spoon or your hands to even and flatten it out, trying to keep the topping at least 1/2 inch away from the edge of the pan.

Bake at 375 for 45 to 60 minutes, watching closely to ensure you get a thick filling and crispy crisp without over-browning the top.  Mine took close to 60 minutes.  Let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.  Best warm with homemade icecream or softly whipped cream, although I’m particularly fond of leftover crisp straight out of the fridge for breakfast.

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Filed under Desserts, Gluten-Free, Summer

rhubarb + sour cherry beer preserves

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I feel like this has been the spring of failures.  First my body failed me; I’ve been sidelined from the activities I love due to some chronic health issues.  While I’m slowly getting back to normal, it’s been… slow.   I’ve had a few friends let me down, and I haven’t been the best friend either. Not on anything big, but the little things add up.  I’ve set goals, monthly and weekly, and haven’t hit them.  I’ve messed up quite a few things  in the kitchen.  And over the top of all of this is the feeling that spring completely failed us.  Months of unrelenting cold and snow, and then the sudden, unceremonious unfurling of greenness, hurling itself into being, even though it feels as though the sun hasn’t even properly shone yet.  All of this failure has been a little bit exhausting.

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The failed kitchen experiments have been particularly frustrating.  I’m realizing how much better I feel without gluten in my diet. I’m amassing a whole shelf of flours and starches – at last count I had something like 15 different kinds! – but gluten-free baking really is a whole new world.   I want to avoid adding gums, but I can feel my resolve breaking down.  There have been cookies that were cake-like, and cookies that spread into a giant mass on the pan;  miserable hockey-puck muffins;  cardboard pizza crusts;  an attempted crumble where the “crumb” sank into blueberries and rhubarb like the lost city of Atlantis, and then was completely forgotten about in the oven and burnt to a crisp.  And don’t forget the particularly disastrous upside-down cake that I absentmindedly assembled in a Springform pan.  (It actually hurts to write that one “out loud.”)  I’m still chipping bits of charred mess off the bottom of my stove.  Even my trusty loaves of (completely gluten-filled) sourdough have been falling flat – literally.

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AND since I’m moaning, I’ll point out that while the flavor of this preserve is very, very good, it’s looser than a typical jam.  Another failure.  I cooked and cooked and cooked, over double the time given in the recipe, but still I ended up with a very loose preserve, despite my addition of a cup of apple pectin stock.  All of the extra cooking I did after adding the fruit gave me a lower yield than the original recipe – 5 half-pints instead of 7 – and I’m still scratching my head at how the original recipe could work.

But the triumph here is that the combination of rhubarb and sour cherry is really winning, bright and tart, and lifting me above all of the little let-downs.  I particularly love that I was able to put some of my husband’s excellent homebrew to use.  The balance of sour and sweet with some slight hoppiness is exactly what I need to cope with some of these feelings of inadequacy.  Ah, emotional eating at its finest.

Hopefully I’ll have some recipes to share, and SOON.  In the meantime, I’ll be slathering this preserve with butter on top of pieces of crusty – albeit, flat – sourdough bread.

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Rhubarb + Sour Cherry Beer Preserves
Adapted from The Preservation Kitchen

Notes: I changed this up from the original in a few ways.  First, I used 2.25 pounds of fresh rhubarb and 0.75 pounds of frozen sour cherries, as my rhubarb is really green and I was afraid of ending up with a greenish-gray jam.  *shudder* I considered using strawberries, but I’m really glad I went with cherries- the tanginess of the two marry perfectly.  I also used a blonde ale that my husband homebrewed– but the called-for wheat beer is going to be a bit sweeter and less hoppy.  I added an extra 1/4 cup of sugar, left out the lemon zest, and instead added 1 cup of apple pectin stock and let the whole mess macerate with the lemon halves in an attempt to eek out some additional pectin.  Here is a link on apple pectin stock, and Liana Krissoff’s Canning for a New Generation is where I got the idea of macerating overnight with a lemon.

2-1/4 pounds diced rhubarb
3/4 pound frozen sour cherries
1-3/4 cups sugar
3 cups wheat beer
1 cup apple pectin stock (optional)
the juice of 1 lemon

In a heavy-bottomed pan, combine all ingredients and stir.  Throw the juiced lemon halves in as well, but try to pick the seeds out first.  Optional step- let macerate in the fridge for 4-6 hours.  (This will extract more of the juice and hopefully more of the pectin out of the lemon, slightly changing your cooking time.)  Bring ingredients to a low simmer, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat, cover with a lid, and place in the fridge overnight or for up to 5 days.

When ready to make the jam, remove the lemon halves. Place a small saucer in the freezer.  Use a sieve or slotted spoon to separate the juice from the fruit solids; return the juice to the heavy pan and set the fruit aside.  Bring the juice to a rapid simmer, stirring frequently, and allow to reduce by almost half.  (Virant said 12 minutes; mine took closer to 20 minutes.)  Stir in the fruit solids and return to a simmer.  Stir frequently to prevent scorching.  While your jam is cooking, prepare 5-6 half-pint jars and lids for a boiling water bath.  As the jam thickens, use a spoon to place a small amount of jam on the frozen saucer and return to the freezer for 60-90 seconds.  When the jam is gelling on the plate, it’s done.

*Virant says to cook until the jam reaches 215 degrees F and lightly coats the back of the spoon, approximately 10 minutes. In my experience, the spoon-coating consistency results in more of a sauce than a jam. I cooked for over 25 minutes, stirring frequently, and I personally prefer the freezer gel test.

Once you’re satisfied with the texture of your jam, pour the jam into half-pint jars, leaving 1/2-inch head space.  Process in a water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove the jars from the water bath and place on a towel; leave for 12-24 hours without disturbing. Remove lid rings for storage.

*If you’d rather not process, you can simply store this in the fridge in clean jars.  I’m going to guess it’ll last a month or two, if not longer- but I haven’t tested it.

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Filed under Condiments, etc., Desserts, Gluten-Free, Spring

Two Wintertime Cocktails


I have a problem calling these wintertime cocktails.  I’ve seen no snow, no gusting winds, no blizzards that force mass-exodus-style trips to the grocery store followed by 2 or 3 days of hunkering down in the house, eating beef stew and peeking out the window as the plow goes by to see how high he’s piled up snow at the end of your driveway.  This meek and mild “winter,” pfft, has been downright enjoyable.  Not that I have a problem with it… but clearly, I do have a teeny tiny problem with it.

Even if you happen to be in southern California or up in the Yukon, these cocktails might help fill a small missing piece on a Friday or Saturday evening.  I know I was searching for something by the time happy hour came around on Friday, and these hit the spot.

1. Heidi’s Blood Orange Gin Sparkler.  I only had two blood oranges so I juiced a naval along with it, and it definitely worked.  I had misremembered the recipe that I read earlier in the day and used club soda on the first drink, but found that I preferred the called-for tonic.   These are too good! And I can’t wait to try these with grapefruit, or a grapefruit-0range combo next weekend…

Edit: I couldn’t hold off for long.  Fresh grapefruit juice is, dare I say, even better than the blood orange juice?! Divine.  A perfect shade of light pink, and brighter-n-lighter in flavor, too. Plan for approximately half a large grapefruit per drink.

2.  Rhubarb Rosemary sparklers.  In an attempt to use up the rosemary-infused simple syrup in the aforementioned gin sparkler recipe, I remembered the jars of rhubarb liqueur I had stowed away last summer.   Rosemary and rhubarb…  beyond alliteration, did they have a chance to work in harmony? I say yes.  I had used a mix of the sweet pink and tart green stalks, and the savory-sweet syrup compliments the tart-sweet liqueur.

Rhubarb & rosemary sparkler
Serves 1

2 oz. rhubarb liqueur
1 oz. rosemary simple syrup
2 to 3 oz. club soda
Pour over ice and stir in a highball or Collins glass.

Muted, earthy, and perfect for a quiet winter night in.

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Beverage, Condiments, etc., Winter

strawberry-rhubarb upside downer


I really wanted to tell you about the asparagus risotto I made this week.  It was creamy and subtle and deliciously spring-ish, while comforting enough for the chilly air that settles around us in the evenings.  But I can’t.  It would be irresponsible- nay, reprehensible– to allow you to go on living one more day of your life without hearing about this cake.

There are cakes for celebrations, and then there are cakes like this.  This is an everyday cake, padding around in day-old jeans and a faded t-shirt, perfect for coffee and a bit of freshly whipped cream.   But at the same time, this is a seriously awesome cake.  This is a make-this-when-your-mother-in-law-comes cake.  Even if it’s only in jeans, it’s impressive.  Sweet, sticky, and spicy. What more do you need?!


This is from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my home to yours, except she wrote it as a cranberry-nut cake.  She also included in the margins directions for a peach version, but I decided to springify.  I halved the cinnamon from the original recipe and added half a teaspoon of fresh cardamom- and WOW.  If you’ve got cardamom, break that bad boy out for this cake.  I don’t know if there’s anything I like more in spring than the combination of strawberries, rhubarb, and cardamom.

There’s also no salt in this cake.  That may dismay some and cheer others.  I will admit that I cheated and used salted butter for the “topping” and unsalted for the actual batter, because I had some stray salted laying around.  Don’t be afraid to add salt if you  know you like it in your cakes and muffins.


Strawberry-rhubarb upside downer
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: FMHTY

14 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons + 1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup chopped strawberries
1 cup chopped rhubarb
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350.  Put an 8×2 (or 9×2) round cake pan on a baking sheet (you WILL want the baking sheet!).

Melt 6 T of the butter and whisk in 6 T of the sugar. Stirring, bring up to a brief boil, then pour evenly into the bottom of the cake pan.  Sprinkle strawberries and rhubarb on top of the butter-sugar combination and press lightly to flatten.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the remaining 8 T (1/2 cup) of butter for 2-3 minutes until soft and creamy.  Add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and cream well for 2-3 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each one and scraping the bowl down as needed.  Pour in the vanilla.  Turn the mixer down to low and add in half of the dry ingredients, only mixing until barely incorporated.  Mix in the milk.  Then mix in the remaining dry ingredients. Spoon the batter in the pan over the strawberries and rhubarb, and smooth the top down.

Bake on the baking sheet for 40-45 minutes, until a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.  With a knife, loosen the cake from the pan around the edges, but allow to sit for 20-30 minutes to let the cake soak up as much of the juice as it can.  While still warm, carefully turn out the cake onto a plate.

Serve thick slices with fresh whipped cream or ice cream, preferably while still a bit warm (or warmed up for 20 seconds in the microwave.  Enjoy!

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Filed under Breads, Breakfast, Desserts, Spring, Summer

rhubarb-strawberry cocktail

 

YES, more rhubarb.  This is not just a shallow crush, some fickle spring-fling sort of deal.  I have an honest love affair with rhubarb.  Deal with it.

I recommend using clear rum, though I’ve seen recipes that use vodka and even gin. If using those, I’d suggest lime juice instead of lemon, and definitely use more sugar in the syrup if using vodka.  I personally always have clear rum around the house in the summer for mojitos… *hint hint!*

Rhubarb-Strawberry Syrup and Cocktails
source: my imagination and tastebuds
Serves: about 3 generous drinks

1/2 c. water
1/3 c. sugar
2 c. chopped rhubarb
couple of strawberries
1 T. lemon juice

Bring all ingredients to a slow boil while stirring frequently. Let the mixture stew for 15 minutes on medium; stir occasionally.  Use a heavy spoon to gradually smash up some of the fruit. Pour this through a fine strainer and use your spoon to press out as much of the liquid as possible.  Let this cool to room temperature.

Fill a tumbler or goblet (fancy shmancy!) with ice. Pour in one ounce clear rum (or liquor of choice), two ounces of the rhubarb syrup, and two ounces of lemon-lime soda (like sierra mist or 7up).  Poke the ice cubes to mix gently. You can add more syrup if you want it sweeter, or more 7up to make it fizzier and less “buzzy”. Looks really pretty garnished with a strawberry on the rim. :)

Coming soon:  Hard Rhubarb Lemonade and Strawberry Rhubarb Mojitos!

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Filed under Beverage, Spring, Summer, Vegetables

[sorta healthy] Rhubarb Muffins

The rhubarb recipes aren’t going to disappear anytime soon. This and spinach are the only things edible growing in my yard for the moment.

N has decided to be a muffin person. By that I mean that he has mentioned several times that he would happily eat a muffin every day if they were available. “Fluffy, moist goodness,” I believe was his exact quote. And these muffins are the ones that inspired said quote… they’re delish. Trust me.

Rhubarb Muffins
Adaptation of my grandma’s sour cream muffins recipe

1-1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 c. AP flour
3 t. baking powder
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 t. cardamom
dash of salt
1 egg
1/2 c. applesauce
3/4 c. yogurt (I used strawberry- could use vanilla, plain, lemon, blueberry…)
3 T. melted butter
1 T. milled flax seed
2 c. chopped rhubarb sprinkled with a little sugar (~ 1 T.)

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, cardamom, powder, and salt. In a small bowl, mix together the egg, applesauce, yogurt, butter, and flax seed. Make a small well in the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients, and fold together only until blended with a spoon or spatula. Fold in rhubarb.

Spoon into muffin tins with paper liners or sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for ~20 minutes, until the tops feel springy and not batter-y when poked.

Optional:
2 T. melted butter
2 T. sugar
1/2 t. cardamom

Mix together the sugar and cardamom in a small dish. Once the muffins are cool to the touch, lightly roll the tops in melted butter and let the excess drip off; then roll in the cardamom-sugar mixture. Adds a subtle sweet-and-crunchy top to offset the tender tart center. Mmm. :)

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Breakfast, Desserts, Spring, Summer