As I sit and ponder thoughts on rhubarb, I am taken back to my stay in Surrey, UK. Rhubarb is as English as you can get. The rosy stems just ooze with tartness that takes your tastebuds to a whole new level. Living in Surrey, we were fortunate be able to stroll down to nearby Garson’s Farm and pick our own. At this time of the year, I could smell the strawberries across the fields from my kitchen. Never have I bottled, canned, and dehydrated as much I did then. We are still eating some of that bounty that I managed to sneak into my luggage on the way back to the US.
This time of the year the UK is well into the summer period and the heat brings the very best results. Here, although a little slower, I am amazed at the beautiful rhubarb that is available, and of course what is growing right in my garden, thanks to the previous owner. I get an abundance of lovely stems that I pick at will. Our green salads are enhanced by slivers of raw rhubarb, I make a killer rhubarb martini (yes, it’s delish), and of course my two favorites. rhubarb fool and rhubarb-almond-ginger tart. I shall share all three this week as I am sure I can persuade the non “rhubarbs“ to try at least one.
An easy and most rewarding dessert to make. Each component can be made ahead and blended before serving. This recipe will fill 8 – 10 wine glasses, or six bowls.
Special note: Save the excess juice/syrup for martini recipe
Ingredients 1 pound rhubarb stems, rinsed, ends trimmed, cut into ½-inch slices 4 tablespoons sugar 2 tablespoons water 1 pint heavy whipping cream
Combine rhubarb, water, and sugar in saucepan, cover with lid, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring a few times. Reduce heat and allow to cook until the rhubarb has broken down.
Pour into a sieve over a bowl and allow the juice to drip through. Save the juice in a glass container. Cool both down.
Whip cream to soft peak stage. Fold the rhubarb compote into the cream. Do not yet add the juice you have made yet.
Spoon into serving dishes or glasses and spoon one or two tablespoons of the juice syrup over it.
A non-alcoholic version with just syrup and the soda is also really refreshing.
Ingredients 1 ounce of syrup/juice from Rhubarb Fool 2 ounces vodka Club soda
Method Place some ice, vodka, and rhubarb syrup in shaker. Quick few shakes. Strain and add club soda to top it off.
Please note the drink is not as pink as you may see in pubs as no coloring has been added.
Rhubarb-Almond-Ginger Rustic Tart
This must be my favorite of the rhubarb trio. Rustic in its appearance, but complex and bold in flavor. We usually serve our tarts as a dessert and pair with crème anglaise.
Crust Your favorite pie pastry, rolled into a 14-inch circle. Remember to place on parchment paper when done.
Ingredients for filling ½ cup unsalted butter, cubed ½ cup sugar 1 cup chunk style crystallized ginger, finely chopped. I got mine at the co-op in Keene. 1 cup ground almonds 4 eggs (3 for filling, 1 for glazing) 2 tablespoons flour 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract 5 rhubarb stems, neatly julienned in 5-inch lengths Sugar to scatter A little runny honey
Beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in ginger, almond, 3 of the eggs, flour, and vanilla. This will make a thick paste.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, lightly grease. Place your pastry circle on top of paper. Smear paste around, leaving a 2-inch border all around.
Arrange the rhubarb on top in a neat circle, and press lightly. Fold over border.
Brush with remaining beaten egg. Sprinkle some sugar.
Place in fridge for 30 to 60 minutes to rest. Bake in preheated oven at 325F for 60 minutes. Drizzle a little honey over the top and serve when needed.