I know I’ve been on a bit of a spring bent lately. Well, it’s not going to stop now, because the first harvest has begun! That early-waking, faithful and very fecund perennial that makes my mouth water just thinking about the sweet-tart treats waiting to be made with it. Yes, it’s another one of those vegetables pretending to be fruit, but the jams and pies and cakes and frozen treats you can make with rhubarb are endless–and delicious. And wouldn’t a little part of you (literally a little part) love to live under the canopy of a rhubarb plant? It’s a forest of strawberry trunks and arching green foliage!
Little e helped me select some stalks to pull out, leaving plenty more to grow and give us harvests until August. That’s one hardworking plant. I’m thinking of a compote this time, roasted to keep in all the flavour and juices of the stalks, and also to preserve the gorgeous colour–a tip I picked up from Jeni. I sometimes roast it with orange zest, or ginger, or both. Sometimes just on its lonesome. I have found it easy to add too much sugar, fearing the stalks are especially tart and worrying about the amount of mouth puckering that will be involved in eating it. But I’ve begun reminding myself that it’s impossible to take sugar out once you’ve added it, but adding a little more at the end to strike the right balance is just fine.
While visiting friends last week, we went to a fozen yogurt shop (parlour?) and I, as always, gravitated towards the plain yogurt flavour. The tartness, the real yogurt tang is so refreshing and healthful-feeling. In Europe you can get yogurt flavoured gelato. Why do I live in Canada, again? Anyway, I’d feel much more virtuous eating a huge bowl of plain FroYo than the same quantity of ice cream (but rest assured, I could do it if I had to). I doubt I’ll see it anytime soon, but a rhubarb frozen yogurt that came out of one of those soft serve machines in a shop/parlour like the one I recently visited…heaven. The rhubarb FroYo I make comes from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Crreams At Home, which is as visually stunning as it is life changing, at least in the frozen dessert department.
From the next harvest I’m going to make this rhubarb cornmeal cake from Nigella Lawson. I love her. I want to be her friend. Same goes for the cake, except I’d say we are already on pretty friendly terms. It’s one of those cakes that feels rustic but can easily be gussied up with whipped cream. Or just eaten out of hand when you’re on the go. I’m a fan of sitting down with cake and really getting to know it, but sometimes you need a cake that doesn’t require a plate. This is one.
What’s your favourite thing to do with rhubarb?