2016-05-06 / Community

Cooking on Purpose

Rhubarb, the bravest vegetable of all
By Connie Wendell
Special to the Post

Spring is definitely in the air, every day it’s a little bit warmer. There are buds on the trees and little green leaves poking up in the garden.

Pretty soon the first vegetation will be here in abundance. The rhubarb is one of the first to brave our spring.

I have included some recipes this time that feature rhubarb. Now you will be ready to cook when you see it in the market or in your back yard.

Rhubarb hand tarts

1 cup sugar; 2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca; 1 teaspoon fresh ginger; dash ground nutmeg; 3 cups ½ inch slices fresh rhubarb or frozen sliced rhubarb; 1 cup sliced, peeled apples; milk; 2 cups all-purpose flour; ½ teaspoon salt; ½ cup shortening; and 7 tablespoons water.

Line a large baking sheet with foil; grease foil and set aside. In a large saucepan stir together sugar, tapioca, ginger and nutmeg. Stir in rhubarb and apples until coated.

Let stand about 15 minutes or until a syrup begins to form, stirring occasionally. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes or just until the fruit is softened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Let cool for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl combine flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are pea-size.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon water over part of the mixture; gently toss with a fork.

Push moistened mixture to side of bowl. Repeat using 1 tablespoon of water at a time, until all the dough is moistened. Divide dough in half.

On a lightly floured surface roll out each portion of pastry to a 12-inch square. Cut each portion in four 6-inch squares.

Spoon about ¼ cup of the cooked rhubarb mixture onto half of one pastry, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge of pastry.

Brush edges of square with water. Fold pastry over filling, forming a rectangle. Press edges gently to seal. Brush edges lightly with water again. Fold edges up and over about ¼ inch. Press edges with tines of a fork to seal again.

Place tart on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining squares of pastry and rhubarb filling. Prick tips 2 or 3 times with the tines of a fork for escape of steam.

Pat down top to get rid of excess air around filling. Brush tops with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack about 30 minutes, serve warm.

Makes eight servings.

Strawberry-rhubarb crisp

1/3 cup strawberry preserves; 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon or nutmeg; 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries; 2 cups sliced fresh rhubarb; 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour; ½ cup quick-cooking rolled oats; 2 tablespoons cornmeal; and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together preserves and cinnamon. Add strawberries and rhubarb; stir gently to coat. Add flour; stir gently until combined. Spoon into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake, uncovered for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together rolled oats and cornmeal. Stir in honey and vanilla until combined. Sprinkle over strawberry mixture.

Bake uncovered, about 20 minutes or until topping is golden brown and fruit is tender and bubbly.

Cool about 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm. Delicious with vanilla ice cream.

Serves six.

Cinnamon rhubarb bread

Butter, for greasing the pan; 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour; 1 teaspoon baking soda; ½ teaspoon salt; 1 teaspoon cinnamon; ¾ cup brown sugar; ½ cup canola oil; ½ cup buttermilk; 1 egg; ½ teaspoon vanilla extract; 2 cups diced rhubarb; and ½ cup chopped pecans.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 by 4-inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir in the brown sugar, oil, buttermilk, egg and vanilla, combining thoroughly. Fold in the rhubarb and pecans.

Pour the batter evenly into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry. Let cool in pan slightly, then cool completely on a rack before slicing.

Makes eight to 10 slices.

Now you are all set for our brave rhubarb. Until next time keep Cooking on Purpose.

Connie Wendell can be reached at conniewendell27@gmail.com.

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