Rhubarb Archive

Friday, May 9, 2014

strawberry rhubarb crisp bars

strawberry rhubarb breakfast crisp bars

Look, I have no business giving dating advice. Or marital advice. I didn’t, like, scope the scene or learn the rules or think big thoughts about what kind of person would be the right person for me when I walked into a bar 11 years ago and met this guy for a drink. Nevertheless, if you were to try isolate a single trait essential in a life partnership, I think you should look for a person who is pro-whim — that is, encourages you to have whims and pursue them, for better or for worse. Does that sound too abstract? Okay, fine; let me propose instead the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Bar Test, which should be enlisted as follows. 1. Find a potential mate. 2. Say, “Do I need to good reason to make strawberry-rhubarb pie bars?” 3. If they answer, as mine did on Monday, “Nope. I think they’re always welcome,” you’re probably on the right track. If nothing else, your weekend is about to get tastier.

mix the dry ingredients right in the pan
add the butter

I’d been daydreaming about a late spring riff on an apple-crisp-in-the-pan bars since I got the One Bowl Baking book last fall. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a pie-like cookie bar I didn’t like, but still, these made me nervous because they seemed so (ewww) wholesome. There are more whole grains than white flour, less sugar and less butter than any other cookie bar I’ve ever made. How could this be good? Silly Deb, I should have just trusted the author implicitly. Yvonne Ruperti is a former Cook’s Illustrated writer, America’s Test Kitchen on-air host and bakery owner, so you could say she knows a few things about baking.

mix it right in the baking pan

Continued after the jump »

Friday, June 7, 2013

rhubarb cream cheese hand pies

rhubarb cream cheese button pies

A few weeks ago, I retold the sad tale of the late rhubarb meringue tart that met its end when it slid off the plate and managed to coat nearly every part of the open fridge I’d intended to put it into with smears of curd, puffs of meringue and crust of crumbs. Rhubarb, although not to blame, and I took a break after that, and it might had continued longer had I not been haunted by an Instagram commenter (hi!) who urged me to try my hand at a rhubarb cream cheese danish. I imagined the tart pink rhubarb against a lemony slick of cheesecake, enveloped in a puff of orange-scented pastry and I could not bear it.

rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb
sugared rhubarb

However, as I began researching danish dough, my interested waned. I don’t think it will be a bad project for one day, but all of that envelope folding and yeast and butter and carefully timed steps seemed a bit much for six to eight folded pastries that wouldn’t survive beyond the breakfast meal. And certainly not when it is finally high pie season, that blissful period from May to September when we in this hemisphere are lucky enough to have more fruit than we know what to do with.

rhubarb, cooking until slumpy and reduced

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

rhubarb snacking cake

rhubarb snacking cake

Almost every year, as soon as the weather gets warm, I become obsessed with a simple, single layer cake that can be made in little time and that I promise will be all you need to be welcome at any picnic/barbecue/cook out/pot-luck that summer.

pretty stalks of rhubarb, at last
rhubarb with sugar and lemon juice

Three years ago, it was a raspberry buttermilk cake, which was the equivalent of taking a single, thin layer from the very best yellow birthday cake you’ve ever had, scattering fresh raspberries over it and baking it until bronzed and perfect. Needless to say, it went on repeat. Later that summer, it was blueberry boy bait, a cake so decadent and buttery I briefly questioned if it had too much butter, then checked my pulse, realized any talk of too much butter was simply madness, and enjoyed the cake thoroughly for as long as the blueberries lasted. (Also, it worked.) Last year I become enamored with something I called a strawberry summer cake. Round and finely crumbed, yet almost butter-slathered-hot-biscuit in texture, it works best with just-picked and borderline-overripe strawberries that, when baked, nearly dissolve into jammy puddles throughout the cake. I also found that I liked it with some of the regular flour replaced with barley flour; just trust me, it works.

sour cream cake batter

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

rhubarb streusel muffins

whole wheat rhubarb streusel muffin

Today I’m conquering some frequently unanswered frequently asked questions.* In short, no, my cookbook isn’t done yet. “But Deb,” I’m sure you’re thinking, “How can it not be done yet? Bloggers always finish their books in 6 to 9 months! And didn’t you start it over a year ago?” At first I thought it was because I had grossly, dramatically and almost hilariously (but in that ha-ha-ow kind of way) underestimated the number of hours I’d need to work a week to get it done. Then I blamed the toddler, depriving his elders of much needed sleep, leaving me bleary eyed and ineffective when I was supposed to be drafting my masterpiece. But neither of them are as true of this: It’s the breakfast section. I can’t put it to rest.

rhubarb, diced

It started small and tidy, about 8 recipes. But I kept adding to it. I kept tweaking what was just fine to begin with. It became an obsession. I starting thinking about muffins while pushing swings at the playground, getting wound up about fritattas while lumbering back from yoga and jotting down notes about French toast while in places that were neither French nor toasty. Ostensibly, I handed the breakfast batch into my editor January but Monday still found me still pulling pancakes out of the oven that I couldn’t bear not to include in the lineup. It had to stop. “No more!” I told myself in the same tone I use to keep the toddler from his curious habit of removing things from his dresser and putting them in mine. (“A burp cloth where my pants should be? You shouldn’t have!”) But it didn’t work (never does, really) as even yesterday I found myself making a list of breakfast recipes I’d add to the section if I hadn’t cut myself off.

batter + brown sugar streusel

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, June 24, 2010

strawberry-rhubarb pie, improved

strawberry rhubarb pie slice

Do you have a favorite pie? I always think of pies falling in two categories, the prom queens, the blue ribbon prize winners, the ones that the president can’t keep out of his thoughts, and the rest of them. In the latter category there are the soggy bottoms, the overly-gelled fillings, the mortarboard crusts, the treacly sweet and those flawlessly latticed, magazine-ready specimen that turn out to have [insert your least favorite pie filling here] under their pretty lids.

all butter crust
last gasp strawberries and rhubarb

I was invited to participate in a “cooking smackdown” yesterday on The Takeaway, a morning radio show (produced by WNYC, The New York Times, BBC, WGBH and Public Radio International) in which a pie of my choice would go up against a cherry pie from New York Times columnist and collaborator on more cookbooks than I can count on two hands and all of my toes, Melissa Clark and my first reaction was: nope, no way. Because as far as I’m concerned, cherry pie is at the top of the pie heap; it’s epic, it’s iconic and it even has a metal song this kid likes to watch me head bang to dedicated to it. Strawberry-rhubarb pie? Not so much.

chopped rhubarb, sliced strawberries

Continued after the jump »