Readers, you know I adore rhubarb. It’s tangy, it’s versatile, it’s colorful, and (at least in my corner of New England, thanks to generous neighbors) it’s free.
As Judy Garland, Ethel Merman, and even I have queried in song, “Who could ask for anything more?”
Yesterday I returned to the TV program Mass Appeal to stir up a little rhubarb happiness. Seth Stutman and I made two dishes. The first (one does sometimes make dessert first) was a dump cake.
The recipe came from my friend Vicky, who reported that her kids love it. I don’t blame them. It’s a variant on a crisp or cobbler and takes only minutes to throw together. Dump cakes are one-pan desserts, often involving (as in this case) cake mixes.
I’m not a big fan of cake mixes, and I HAVE made this recipe with “scratch” ingredients. If you’d like to eschew the mix, just substitute 2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1-1/2 cups sugar for the cake mix; finish using 1 cup milk instead of water and add a little vanilla along with the milk.
The problem with that method is that it requires you to mix the dry ingredients together. In that case, you don’t really have a dump cake. If you’re a non-mix purist, however, you may not mind.
One solution to the mix dilemma is to use a high-quality mix like King Arthur Flour’s golden vanilla mix. I tried to get some of this—but the mix didn’t arrive in time for my TV spot!
Here is the recipe as we made it on the air. (Note that I did NOT use the strawberry gelatin, which I find excessive, although you can see it oozing in the photo here.)
4 cups chopped rhubarb (a little over a pound, enough to fill your pan in a single layer)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 (3 ounce) package strawberry gelatin (optional)
1 package yellow cake mix
1 cup water (or milk, according to cake-mix directions)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted (I tend to be a little generous with this—maybe 5/8 stick?)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Spread the rhubarb evenly in the bottom of the baking dish.
Sprinkle the sugar over the rhubarb, followed by the cinnamon, the gelatin (if you are using it), and finally the cake mix. Pour the water and melted butter over the top. Do not stir. Bake for 45 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender.
Serve this treat by itself or with whipped cream, ice cream, or frozen yogurt.
Seth and I also made a quick rhubarb salsa. This recipe differs from the one I have previously posted in that it is less sweet and less wet. It’s still delicious.
2 cups finely chopped rhubarb
1/2 inch ginger root, peeled and chopped finely
3 to 4 tablespoons minced sweet onion (e.g., red onion or Vidalia)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 handful cilantro, chopped
the juice of 1 lemon or 1 lime
2 teaspoons honey
salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon)
Place the rhubarb and ginger in a stainless-steel sieve or colander. Place them in a pot of boiling water. Leave them in until the rhubarb begins to soften (about 1 minute; you don’t want it super crunchy, but you don’t want mush, either).
Remove the rhubarb mixture from the boiling water, still in the sieve, and pour cold water over it briefly to stop it from cooking longer. Drain again. Let the rhubarb sit in the sieve with a couple of ice cubes to keep the cooling process going.
In a bowl combine the onion, the garlic, the peppers, and the cilantro.
In a small bowl combine the citrus juice and the honey. Stir in the salt. Add the drained rhubarb mixture (make sure to take out any remaining ice). Mix well.
Refrigerate the salsa for at least an hour before serving. Serve with chips or crackers and cream cheese, or with chicken, pork, or fish. Makes about 2 cups.
If you’d like to watch the video (in which I refer to another Rhubarb in my life and deliberate marrying a TV star), it appears below.
You’ll note that Seth and I refer several times to slime and sliming. His co-star Ashley Kohl was broadcasting that day from a local children’s hospital. For “Slime Day 2015” Ashley and several doctors and nurses were doused with a bright green liquid to entertain the children.
Ashley is gorgeous. Darn her, she even looked good with slime all over her! I still love her, however, and so did the kids.