Rhubarb Roundup (part 3)

IMG_1693This past weekend I tried two things rhubarb.

First on Saturday, which was a gloriously warm day, I had a Campari and soda.  Did you know Campari has rhubarb in it ?  Campari is considered a bitter and is an acquired taste but on a warm summer (or spring) day nothing beats sitting on the back porch with a little Campari over ice and a good portion of soda water while  picturing yourself  sitting at some little outdoor restaurant in Italy wiling away the afternoon. You can make other drinks with Campari like the Negroni, which usually elicits strong opinions–love or HATE!

My second encounter with rhubarb was rhubarb ice cream for Sunday’s family dinner.  The recipe was super easy and with my Cusinart ice cream maker I had creamy rhubarb ice cream in no time.  But you can’t just serve rhubarb ice cream by itself because some in my family dislike it as much as they dislike purple onions and meatloaf.

I decided to make a Barefoot Contessa Lemon pound cake but instead of using full fat yogurt, which the recipe called for, I thought I would try using the non-fat Greek yogurt I always have in my fridge.  I wasn’t as concerned about the fat content as the ice cream had plenty of whipping cream, as I was not having to go to the store.  The recipe called for vegetable oil, which I rarely use, and when I measured it out I thought it smelled funny but I ignored my gut and carried on.  Well, my oil was rancid and the pound cake tasted terrible (though Jack ate several slices and Buster and the chickens liked it). Always follow your gut; if you think it smells or looks bad, save yourself the heartache (maybe a little dramatic) and don’t use it.  I think the non-fat yogurt also made it a bit tough.

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Earlier in the week Megan and I had a  conversation about whether angel food cake would be good served with rhubarb compote (which it would)  and I decided it would also be delicious with rhubarb ice cream.  I found the Lemon Angel Food Cake recipe in one of my Barefoot Contessa books and gave it a try. The cake turned out perfect! Light and airy and just a little lemony, which was the perfect accompaniment to the rhubarb ice cream–not to mention the Rick Bayless Paella for 6–but that’s another post.

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Rhubarb Ice Cream    

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Every  Which Way With Rhubarb by Amanda Brannon

1 pound rhubarb, finely chopped

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh)

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups heavy whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Place the rhubarb in a shallow baking dish along with the sugar and the lemon juice. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender. Let it cool slightly. Pour the rhubarb into a food processor and process until you have a smooth puree. Pour into a container, cover and transfer to the refrigerator and chill. Stir the vanilla and cream into the rhubarb puree, pour into an ice cream maker and churn until the mixture has the consistency of soft whipped cream.  Freeze for a minimum of two hours or until the ice cream is firm enough to serve.

Rhubarb ice cream and Lemon Angel Food cake!

Rhubarb ice cream and Lemon Angel Food cake!

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Rhubarb Roundup (part 2)

rhubarb stalks

rhubarb stalks — dino-sized snack

This year the  admission yield season and rhubarb season coincided and I almost missed rhubarb season. There was a time when I would not have been sad about that but I have changed how I feel about rhubarb over the past few years. Years ago, when Jack brought home three of his grandfather’s rhubarb plants, I was not excited or encouraging. As a child, I had an experience with a stalk of rhubarb and a cup of sugar that left an unpleasant memory. The rhubarb pies or rhubarb/strawberry pies I tried over the years seemed slimy or slimy and sour. I was always more than happy to give our rhubarb to anyone who got excited when I said we had rhubarb. A few years ago, I tried the Rhubarb Crisp a la mode with Strawberry Sauce recipe from our local newspaper which was adapted from Sylvia Thompson’s “The Kitchen Garden Cookbook”  and it changed my life.  Next was Martha Stewart’s Rhubarb Upside Down Cake–delicious!  My fear of the slimy and sour are gone and now it’s great fun to see what I can make with all my (notice it’s now my) free rhubarb!

When I was in Juneau two summers ago visiting Mitch and Rochele I picked up a cookbook titled “Every Which Way With Rhubarb” by Amanda Brannon.  Until this week the only recipe I had made from the book was a chutney and I was feeling some guilt about yet another cookbook that I haven’t really used, so I pulled it out of the cupboard and took it for a spin.  I do have a rhubarb recipe rule which is it has to use a LOT of rhubarb otherwise it’s not worth putting on the garden clogs and trekking to the side yard with a butcher knife to harvest.  This week I tried two recipes, Rhubarb Crumble Bars which used four cups and Rhubarb Cake II  which used two cups–both were delicious but I really like the Rhubarb Cake II.   It was moist and slightly sweet; a perfect snack cake!

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Every Which Way With Rhubarb by Amanda Brannon

2 cups rhubarb, diced

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda (I always use aluminum free)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch cake pan.  Combine the rhubarb and 1/2 cup sugar.  Set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and 1 1/2 cup sugar. Add the eggs and beat until well blended.

In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  In a small bowl, mix together the buttermilk and vanilla.  Add the milk mixture alternately with the flour mixture to the egg mixture, beating well between additions.  Stir-in the rhubarb mixture.  Pour batter into prepared baking pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Cool slightly and serve warm or room temperature, plain or with ice cream.

Now the Rhubarb Crumble Bars were perfectly nice but vague directions involving cornstarch, water and cooking until “thick” meant my bars were more a crisp and not bar-like.  Would have been delicious with ice cream or whipped cream but you certainly could not eat with your hands. I thought they would be more like Smitten Kitchen’s Kim Boyce’s via Orangette Rye Crumble Bars which are the most amazing thing ever.

Both were taken to work,  as two people do not need to eat that much cake or crumble, despite what Jack says. -Stephanie

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