Friday, May 4, 2012

Sour First Impressions will Leave you Wanting Seconds -- Pine Mountain, Kathleen Powers

        Several months ago I posted a blog about planting perennials, including rhubarb and asparagus, today I wanted to revisit the topic of rhubarb and talk some about different ways to use rhubarb. It seems that many people who have rhubarb are unsure of what to do with it each summer and simply don’t harvest it because they don’t know what to do with all of it. However If you take a few minutes and search the internet or just get creative you can come up with many wonderful ways to use all of that rhubarb and more, and your family and friends will love you for it.
         Rhubarb does require some sweetening, but not as much sugar as most people believe is required to make rhubarb a tasty ingredient in many recipes. Rhubarb is a good source of potassium and vitamin C, and it’s just really pretty when used to cook and bake with. Unwashed and uncut rhubarb can be stored in the fridge in a plastic bag for up to several weeks. Rhubarb also freezes really well and can be chopped before freezing so that when you want to use it all you have to do it pull it out of the freezer and let it thaw.

So here are some tasty rhubarb recipes, please don’t let your rhubarb go to waste!

I am not a fan of strawberry rhubarb pie, I think rhubarb shines all by itself and you really don’t need all that much sugar to make this pie sweet, so here is my favorite rhubarb pie recipe, it’s easy, tasty, and not too tart!

Rhubarb Pie
Your favorite pie crust
10 cups chopped rhubarb
1 cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup Cornstarch
½ teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Prepare pie dough. Roll out one of the discs and line a deep 9" pie plate with it.

1. Preheat oven to 425. Combine diced rhubarb, sugars, cornstarch, salt, and vanilla. Pour into prepared pie plate and spread it out evenly. Roll out the second disc of dough, lay it over the rhubarb, trim the overhang to 1/2", and then fold it under the fruit. Crimp the edges and cut three 1" slits in the middle of the pie for steam to escape.
2. Cook at 435 for 12-15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and cook for about 40 minutes more, until fruit is soft, juices are bubbling a bit, and crust is golden. If you have a temperamental oven, you might need to cover the crust edges with foil in its last minutes of cooking to avoid over-browning.

Rhubarb simple syrup and jam
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cups chopped rhubarb

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves, after sugar is dissolved let the mixture simmer for another 10 minutes or so. After cooking, strain the liquid into a jar and store in the fridge. You can use this syrup to make rhubarb lemonade or sodas, or any other beverage you can dream up. You can also save the cooked rhubarb which will make a tasty jam that is good spread on toast or biscuits or even used as ice cream topping.

      Though savory dishes using rhubarb are a bit harder to find there are definitely some out there, here is one for a pizza that sounds wonderful!

Savory Rhubarb and Chipotle Goat Cheese Pizza Recipe (with this recipe you could substitute any kind of cheese that you like and that is available in your grocery store)

 Your favorite Pizza Dough
1 lb rhubarb, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 cup cranberry juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cornstarch
4 oz chipotle goat cheese (or roll your own log of goat cheese in chile powder.)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees (or as hot as it will go!) 
1. In a medium skillet, combine the rhubarb, cranberry juice, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and ginger and bring to a boil.  Boil until it starts to thicken, adding 1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in a bit of water if necessary.  Simmer until it has the consistency of a loose cranberry sauce.
2. Roll out your pizza dough.  Top with the rhubarb mixture, leaving about a 1-inch crust around the edges.  Sprinkle goat cheese on top.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the underside of the dough is lightly browned.  Remove from oven and top with basil.  Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.

So if you have rhubarb, go pick some and give these recipes a try, they won't disappoint! 

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