Posts Tagged ‘Rhubarb Recipes’

For Rhubarb Lovers ONLY!

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

I know I don’t usually publish posts two days in a row. I do realize, dear readers, that you have OTHER THINGS TO DO than read about my cooking.
I’m running out of time to celebrate everything I need to by July 4, however, so I’m afraid I’m back today with another rhubarb recipe.
Actually, I was a little hesitant to try this one. It involves … grilling.
I’m not generally a sexist, but there are certain things I’d just rather have men do. Change batteries on high smoke alarms (thank you, David!). Fasten the hose to the faucet outside so the water doesn’t gush out (thank you, Dennis!). GRILL.
Last night was hot, however, and no men were in sight. So I pulled out the grill and the charcoal and eventually got a fire going. My mother, Truffle, and I enjoyed a marinated flank steak.
And … grilled rhubarb!
Ann Brauer, a talented quilt artist in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, suggested I try tossing my favorite stalk on the grill.
I was skeptical. I have been known to lose pieces of chicken through the slots of the grill. I had a feeling I would end up with more rhubarb in the fire than on top of it.
Ann told me that she had grilled her rhubarb on foil, however, which made the project much more doable.
The grilling is a teensy bit tricky anyway. As I state in the recipe below, one wants the rhubarb to become slightly soft but not mushy. The photo at the bottom of this post actually depicts my first batch, which was slightly underdone; you can still see sugar adhering to the stalks. By the time we finished the final batch we were so hungry we ate the darn things without photographing them, however.
Warning: I know I’ve said that several of my rhubarb recipes will appeal to people who are not rhubarb fans.
This is NOT one of those recipes. If you are a lover of rhubarb, however, you will be enamored of the contrast between the light sugary crust and the deep, tart, rhubarby inside of the grilled stalks.
My mother and I were very, very happy. Truffle even ate a couple of pieces. (She’s a dog with excellent taste.)
Grilled Rhubarb
I apologize for the vague proportions in this recipe! My mother and I ate about 4 pieces of rhubarb each, but people with bigger appetites would probably eat many more. So I leave the decisions to you…….
rhubarb to taste–washed, trimmed, and cut into 3-inch pieces
sugar as needed
Rinse the rhubarb pieces well and barely drain them. Leave a little water adhering to them so that the sugar will stick to them.
Pour sugar into a flat bowl, and roll the pieces of rhubarb in it.
Grill on foil over a not-too-hot grill, turning from time to time, until the sugar melts and the rhubarb starts to soften but doesn’t completely lose its texture. On my grill this took about 15 minutes, but I am NOT a reliable griller. Keep an eye on your rhubarb and pay no attention to me! 

Remove and serve.

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Barbacious Brownies

Monday, June 21st, 2010

I admit that I put rhubarb in a lot of things. This is one ‘barb recipe that would never have occurred to me, however.
I got the idea for these fudgy squares from Dennis Duncan of High Altitude Rhubarb, a bustling organic rhubarb farm in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Like me, Dennis is a major rhubarb fan.
Dennis was a little vague about how much rhubarb to add to the brownies, suggesting that I simply add unsweetened rhubarb to my favorite brownie recipe. So I just punted. I wasn’t sure whether the brownies were a success … until my neighbors started asking for more!
The result was a moist, DARK-chocolate brownie. Be prepared for a definite tart taste from the rhubarb. Your friends may not be a able to figure out what’s in the brownies, but if they’re fans of dark chocolate they’ll definitely be happy. 

By the way, High Altitude Rhubarb has a number of recipes available on it web site. My family is lobbying to try the rhubarb margaritas!

The Brownies
1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter
1/2 cup unsweetened rhubarb puree, slightly warm
1 cup sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa (depending on how dark you want them; they’ll be dark either way!)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 9-inch-square pan. (Line it with buttered foil to omit any worries about sticking. I used a silicone pan so I didn’t have to.)
In a 2-quart saucepan melt the butter. Stir in the rhubarb, followed by the sugar. Heat, stirring, over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.
Stir in the cocoa and salt. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Stir in the flour, followed by the vanilla and the chocolate chips.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. 

Bake the brownies for 25 minutes. Remove them from the oven. Loosen the edges gently with a table knife; then allow the brownies to cool. Cut into tiny pieces. Makes between 20 and 40 brownies, depending on how big you cut them.

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Upside Down Once More

Friday, June 11th, 2010

I know, I know, I just posted a recipe for rhubarb upside-down cake!
Let me explain.
After various peregrinations I am finally home in Hawley, Massachusetts, contemplating the gorgeous greenery everywhere and the abundant rhubarb in my yard.
(It’s even more abundant in the yard of my generous next-door neighbor Dennis!)
Seeing its lush (if poisonous) green leaves and strong red stalks has inspired me to try yet another upside-down cake.
You may recall that the previous recipe from Sue Haas featured marshmallows. This ingredient surprised some of the commenters, particularly the eloquent Flaneur.
Here I dispense with the marshmallows and combine Sue’s recipe with my own for pineapple upside-down cake.
It’s amazing how different two rhubarb cakes can be! Of course, I like them both. (I seldom dislike cake, for my sins.)
Sue’s Michigan upside-down cake is not too sweet and not too goopy; the marshmallows hold it together and give it a slight vanilla flavor.
This version is definitely sweeter and richer. On the other hand, it’s also a little more rhubarby. The marshmallows tend to tame the rhubarb in the other recipe. 

Which should you make? BOTH, of course………

Hawley Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake
for the topping:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) sweet butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 cups rhubarb (1/2-inch chunks)
for the cake:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1-3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
First make the topping (which goes on the bottom!).
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the brown sugar and cook, stirring, until it melts and bubbles—3 to 4 minutes.
Transfer the brown-sugar mixture into a 9-inch-square cake pan. Spread it through the bottom of the pan. Arrange the rhubarb pieces on top as artistically as you can. (Mine weren’t very artistic.)
For the cake cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Add the baking powder and salt. Stir in the flour alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Stir in the vanilla, and pour the batter over the rhubarb mixture.
Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the center (but not too far down; don’t hit the rhubarb!) comes out clean, about 40 minutes. If the cake is brown but not done before this happens, decrease the oven temperature and continue baking.
Allow the cake to cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife, and invert the cake onto a serving plate held over the skillet. Turn upside-down. Remove pan.
Serve alone or with whipped cream. Serves 9. 

I should think you could absolutely bake this pan in a 10-inch iron skillet (heating the butter and brown sugar in it first, and then piling on the other ingredients). I couldn’t find my skillet, however, so I used a square pan and can only report on those results.

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Rhubarb Catch Up

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Here’s an early recipe for July 4. (Enjoy it: this will probably be the only time you’ll get a recipe early from In Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens!)
I’m not exactly a champion griller. In fact, as listeners to WFCR, our local public-radio station, learned a couple of years ago, I’ve been known to light an outdoor fire that almost turned into … well … an outdoor fire.
Condiments for grilled foods I can manage, however. And lately I’ve had a hankering to make some rhubarb ketchup (or catsup or however you want to spell it).
I’ve tried a couple of different formulas, and this is the best so far. It doesn’t taste like tomato ketchup. Why should it? It’s a lightly sweet, lightly spiced sauce that would be lovely with pork.
My spices came courtesy of Kalustyan, a wonderful spice company that has a retail outlet in New York City (yes, it will ship spices to you!). I particularly love Kalustyan’s aromatic cinnamon. And its mixture of pickling spices was just right for this recipe.
I can’t tell you yet how long this ketchup will last in the refrigerator since I made it less than a week ago. I don’t think I’d push it more than two weeks or so. So if you would like to try it as a condiment for Independence Day you should wait a little while to make it.
On the other hand, like me, you might want to make some now and some later. It really was tasty last night! I pan grilled chicken cutlets and served them with fresh peas with mint and maple-rhubarb coleslaw.
While you’re making your ketchup, do listen to my WFCR grilling broadcast. I’m not in great voice when I sing (and the less said the better about my piano playing), but my mother’s childhood memories are fun.
And Truffle’s cheerful bark more than makes up for my shortcomings! She really knows how to celebrate Independence Day.
Rhubarb Ketchup
3 cups rhubarb (in small pieces!)
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup apple cider plus 1/2 cup later
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon (generous) ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon pickling spices
1/2 teaspoon salt
a few turns of your pepper grinder
In a 2-quart nonreactive saucepan, toss together the rhubarb and brown sugar.
In a tiny nonreactive saucepan, heat the 1/4 cup cider and the vinegar. When they come to a boil remove them from the heat and stir in the ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and pickling spices.
Let the two pans sit at room temperature for 2 hours. The rhubarb should juice up a little, and the spices should steep nicely in the liquid.
After the resting period add the spices and their liquid to the rhubarb. Toss the remaining cider into the pot that held the spices to pick up any remaining spices, and add it to the rhubarb as well. Stir in the salt and pepper.
Bring the rhubarb mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and boil the resulting sauce, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes. Turn off and let cool.
In a blender or food processor puree the cooled ketchup. Ladle it into a sterilized jar or two and refrigerate it until you are ready to use it.

Makes about 2-1/2 cups ketchup.

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Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb!

Monday, June 15th, 2009

rhubarb stalksweb


It’s getting warm in New England so this will be my last rhubarb post for this year. Sigh………

For my grand finale I thought I’d explore the word “rhubarb” as well as the plant.


A friend recently asked me whether rhubarb didn’t have more than one meaning. I did a little research—and was he ever right! When you’ve said rhubarb, you’ve said a mouthful in more ways than one.


Other foods may enjoy one or two definitions beyond their edible ones. A peach is a pretty girl, and something peachy is just swell. We blow a raspberry to show disrespect. And spinach can mean “humbug” as part of the phrase “gammon and spinach” or all by itself, as in the immortal Irving Berlin lyric, “I say it’s spinach and the hell with it!”


Rhubarb, however, has so much personality that its figurative uses almost rival its culinary ones.

First of all, of course, rhubarb is a reddish, stringy plant that originated in
China. People either love or hate its strong, tart flavor. (I’m in the love camp, as you may have guessed!)

The genesis of the word “rhubarb” comes from its presence along the banks of the
Volga River in Siberia; it is a combination of “Rha” (the Greek word for the Volga) and the word “barbarum,” or barbarian. (Obviously those who named the plant were less than enthusiastic about it. I don’t find it at all barbaric.)


Beyond its meaning as food, rhubarb is a theatrical phrase used by centuries of actors in crowd scenes. In Shakespeare’s day and beyond, extras onstage would intone “rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb” to simulate muttering, particularly angry muttering. I like to think that the peasants coming after the monster with torches in the classic film Frankenstein were using the word, although I have no proof of this.


Perhaps because of its slightly harsh syllables rhubarb also connotes a fight, usually a spirited one. In the mid-20th century the word became attached to baseball. It was used most famously by colorful sportscaster Red Barber to describe an altercation on the field—between teams, between players and umpires, or between players and fans. Barber called Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, “the rhubarb patch.” Apparently, the Dodgers had a strong, tart flavor.


According to the Oxford English Dictionary, rhubarb is sometimes used to mean “nonsense.” (Perhaps Irving Berlin should have written, “I say it’s RHUBARB and the hell with it!”)


The word also describes low-level aircraft strafing in time of war (at least it did during World War II). And it was used centuries ago as an adjective to mean bitter or tart. The OED also lists related words, including “rhubarber,” which refers to an actor milling around in a crowd scene.


If I haven’t provided enough meanings for the word for you, the Keene Sentinel provided several more in a 2000 article titled “The Hidden Life of Rhubarb.”


I asked its author, columnist John Fladd, where he got so many of his rhubarb uses, and he referred me to Eric Partridge’s Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. Partridge must have been particularly inspired by rhubarb for he found many meanings for the word.


In the 19th century, Patridge wrote, the word was used vulgarly to refer to the genital region as in the expression (previously unfamiliar to me), “How’s your rhubarb coming up, Bill?”


It has also connoted a loan, a bill for payment, an advance on one’s wages and an area in the country (as a synonym for “the Sticks”). I guess I live in the Rhubarbs.


Finally, Fladd (citing Partridge) notes, “There is a Canadian phrase, ‘hitting the rhubarb,’ that means running one’s car off the road—‘You’d better not have another drink, Stanley, or you’ll hit the rhubarb.’”


Before I hit the rhubarb myself, I guess I should tuck a recipe into this post. It comes from my friend and editor at the West County Independent, Virginia Ray.


Ginny says, “I love the sweet/sourness of this crumble, which reminds me of picking rhubarb at my little farm in Pennsylvania, right from the garden, and transforming the bitterness to yummy-ness!”



Miss Ginny’s Rhubarb Crumble



2 pounds rhubarb (6 cups) cut into one-inch pieces

1/4 cup white or organic sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup flour

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) salted butter

1/2 cup brown sugar




Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the rhubarb in a buttered Pyrex pie dish (a stainless or ceramic dish may be substituted, but don’t use aluminum as it will react with the rhubarb’s acidity).


Sprinkle on the white/organic sugar and cinnamon. Sift the flour into a bowl. Add the butter and cut it in with knives or a pastry blender (your hands will do in a pinch). Add the brown sugar and mix again until crumbly.


Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the rhubarb, pressing down lightly. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Serves 6 to 8. This crumble freezes well.