May 29, 2013

Rhubarb Redux!


There's a lot to love about rhubarb. It grows like a weed, needs little attention, and it's bright tasting and tangy, terrific served both savory and sweet. It's nick name is "the pie plant" because my grandmother was a pie genius. All June we'd feast on rhubarb pies, crumbles and pandowdy that came piping hot and topped with plenty of freshly whipped cream. 

But rhubarb is terrific as a stand in for lemon in a quick vinaigrette. Also, try it stewed with a few chiles or rosemary for a simple sauce to top chicken or pork.

Serve it sweet, tart and tangy and give rhubarb some love.

Roasted Rhubarb Sauce
Makes about 3 cups

Roasting rhubarb instead of stewing it helps it maintain it's lovely pink color and keeps it from turning soft and stringy.

1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces, about 3 cups
1/2 pound sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the rhubarb with the sugar and arrange it into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Put the dish into the oven and roast until the rhubarb is just tender, but not falling apart, bout 20 to 25 minutes. Let the rhubarb cool, and then scrape it, along with its juices, into a bowl and cover. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Rhubarb Snack Cake
Serves 8 to 10

Serve the roasted rhubarb sauce over this and top with whipped cream!

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-1/4 cps sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 large eggs
1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
1 cup finely chopped rhubarb

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter an flour a 9-inch square baking pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy; then beat in the vanilla. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beginning and ending with the flour, mixture, alternate folding portions of the flour mix and the yogurt into the butter mixutre. Fold in the rhubarb. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spread it evenly, and then tap the pan to release the air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes up clean, about 50 to 55 minutes. Cool the cake on a wire rack. Dust it with confectioners sugar if desired.

Rhubarb Vinaigrette
Serves 4 to 6

This vinaigrette is terrific served over cold roast chicken on a bed of greens and topped with toasted pecans; or toss it with strawberries and spinach; or drizzle it over pork chops as they come off the grill!

1/2 cup rhubarb, peeled and finely diced
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar, or to taste
1 shallot, diced
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put the rhubarb and water into a small saucepan, bring the water to a simmer and cook the rhubarb until it is tender but not soggy, about 5 minutes. Add just enough sugar to sweeten the rhubarb. Turn the rhubarb into a small bowl and allow it to cool to luke warm. Whisk in the shallots, vinegar, and oil. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper.

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