If you were raised in a small Iowa farm town, you’re probably not too bothered by garter snakes. When two friends who have community garden plots gave me carte blanche to their rhubarb patches, the little guy who slithered under the leaves as I was bending over to pull some rhubarb stalks didn’t prevent me from taking my share. For the next day or two we reached an accommodation. He slithered. I pulled.
We always called rhubarb an “alley plant.” In the Midwest, at least, that’s where it thrived. While my Mom’s rhubarb sauce was delicious, her crisp mighty tasty, it was her rhubarb pie crowned with a mile-high meringue topping that was to-die-for. What I wouldn’t give for just one more sliver.
Rhubarb, which is a vegetable, is an acquired taste. You’re either Yes or No. Wishy Washy is not a category. Besides making sauce this week I baked David Lebovitz’s Strawberry-Rhubarb Galette and Andrea Mohr’s (The Kitchen Lioness) unique Rhubarb-Ginger Topping. She plops the mixture on homemade hummus, adds a splash of high-quality olive oil, a bit of freshly ground black pepper, some flaky salt and makes a tasty statement. These basic recipes (below) are full of possibilities, just build on their ideas.
FOR the LOVE of RHUBARB – Astronaut John Glenn’s father, known as Hershel, was mostly deaf from injuries in WW I. To help out at home, every summer young Glenn sold rhubarb from the family garden throughout his Ohio home town. (story from Bill Dedman)
STRAWBERRY-RHUBARB GALETTE by David Lebovitz
Use your favorite pastry/galette dough or purchase a pre-made pie pastry at the store. (If available, purchase the all-butter pastry product.)
3 Cups diced rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2 pieces.
2 Cups of Strawberries, hulled and quartered
Zest of One Lemon
2/3 Cup of Sugar & 1 TBS Cornstarch
1. Put the rhubarb and strawberries in a medium bowl with the lemon zest.
Sprinkle the sugar and corn starch on top. Do not mix the ingredients together. If you do, theyʼll start to juice and may be overly juicy by the time youʼre ready to use them. (Use this process with any fruit/galette combo.)
2. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to a 14-inch circle and place it on the baking sheet. (At this point you can sprinkle 11/2 TBS of almond flour, cracker or bread crumbs, crumbled amaretti cookies or just a bit of flour on the tart dough to soak up any extra juices that may come out of the fruit when it’s baking. I crushed two graham crackers. Worked perfectly.)
4. Mix the fruit together with the sugar and corn starch and place the fruit into the center of the galette dough. Spread it with your hands, leaving 3-inches of space between the fruit and the edge of the dough.
6. Fold the edges of the dough up and over the fruit filling. Brush the crust liberally with melted butter and sprinkle with Turbinado sugar.
7. Bake the tart until the filling is cooked and bubbling and the crust is golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully slide the tart off the baking sheet onto a cooling rack.
SERVING: Serve the tart on its own or with Vanilla Ice Cream, White Chocolate and Fresh Ginger Ice Cream, Cinnamon Ice Cream, or a dollop of crème fraîche. The baked tart is best the same day but can be stored at room temperature for up to two days.
RHUBARB-GINGER TOPPING by Andrea Mohr, The Kitchen Lioness
2-3 stalks red rhubarb, (1 Cup)
6 slices fresh ginger (washed, no need to peel)
extra virgin olive oil
salt (to taste)
1. Cut the washed stalk into slices. Using low heat, cook the slices in a pan with olive oil, sliced fresh ginger and a bit of salt just till soft. That will only take a few minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool. Once the topping has cooled, remove the sliced ginger
2. After placing your hummus in its serving bowl, put the rhubarb mixture on top.
3. If you happen to have fresh pomegranate seeds, add a few to the rhubarb topping. With a splash of high-quality olive oil, a bit of freshly ground black pepper and some flaky salt. You’re done.
JUNE GRADUATION/500 DAYS OF QUARANTINE-DONE
In mid-June Clara graduated from Bishop Union High School in California. Despite being vaccinated and owning my personal Hazmat suit, graduation was a three-day closed affair with the class divided into thirds. Since Clara was the Valedictorian this year, she gave her speech three times! I was watching on television so that was fine with me. She leaves in mid-July to attend Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana, to begin an accelerated four-year program resulting in a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a Masters in Engineering Management. Emma, an incoming junior at Point Loma Nazarene University, returned to San Diego last week (after 500 days of quarantine, she points out) where she has a summer job with the university. She is majoring in both Spanish and Child and Adolescent Development. As for what’s ahead with me, I think I might just put up my feet, sit back and watch!
This past weekend, using cheese selected by invited guests, I put together a cheese board for a good friend’s son’s engagement party.