Sunday, May 20, 2012

It's Rhubarb Time...



I just love this time of year.  We have access to really fresh tasting produce instead of the plastic tasting stuff we've had all winter.  One of the first items that pop out of the ground is rhubarb.  I love rhubarb.  As a kid we would go to my grandmother's garden to pick a bunch of rhubarb and then we would run home to get some sugar.  Yummy... it always tasted so good.... sweet and tart at the same time.  It could have been the fact that we had been starved all winter for something that tasted fresh.  Rhubarb is the start of everything wonderful for summer.... strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, yummy, yummy home-grown tomatoes...
Last year I tried a new recipe,  Rhubarb Crumb Bars from Martha Stewart.  They were delicious.  This is a very versatile recipe.  You can substitue other fruits for the rhubarb and have a different taste.  I tried making them with some frozen raspberries I had left over from last year and they turned out just as delicious... 
Rhubarb Crumb Bars by Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

For the streusel
6 T. unsalted butter, melted, plus room-temperature butter for pan
1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

For the cake
1/2 lb. rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 T. light-brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Butter and flour parchment and pan, tapping out excess flour.
  2. Make streusel: Whisk together butter, brown sugar, and salt. Add flour and mix with a fork until large crumbs form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Make cake: In a medium bowl, combine rhubarb, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup flour. In another medium bowl, whisk 3/4 cup flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, one at a time. With mixer on low, beat in vanilla, then flour mixture. Spread batter in prepared pan. Sprinkle with rhubarb and top with streusel.
  4. Bake cake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift cake from pan. Cut into 16 bars.
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I also tried another recipe from Martha for Rhubarb Meringue Pie. This was also a big hit! I used my own pie crust and made the rhubarb juice from a recipe I found on Cooks.com.
If you get a chance to try either one of these recipes I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
     Rhubarb Meringue Pie adapted from Martha Stewart
but I made a few changes....

Before you start making the pie, you will need to make some unsweetened rhubarb juice...

Recipe:
1 lb. rhubarb
1 qt. water
Juice from 1 lemon

Cut rhubarb in 1 inch pieces.  Cook until soft.  Strain.  Add lemon juice.

Now it's time to make that pie crust...yummy!!!

Barb's Best Ever Pie Crust

Ingredients
1 1/4 c. lard (yes lard...you can find lard in the meat section of your favorite
market or just ask the butcher)
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt

Cut the lard into the flour and salt until when squeezed in your hand the mixture holds it's shape.
Mix:
1 beaten egg
5 T. water
1 T. vinegar

Add this to your flour mixture.  Don't over work your dough.  Form into a disk and put in the refrigerator for about a half hour.

Remove from refrigerator and cut dough in half.  This recipe makes 2 pie crusts.  Put the other half in the refrigerator for a later pie.  Or you could roll it out and put in a pie plate, wrap it up and freeze for another day.  That's what I usually do.  Anyways, place some flour on your counter and roll out your pie crust.  Fold in half and place in pie plate.  Trim the edges and crimp the edges.  Dock the bottom of the pie shell.  That means take a fork and put a lot of holes in the crust.  Place a piece of parchment on top of crust bottom and pour some beans or pie weights on top.  Bake in oven at 375 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.  Remove weights and parchment.  Return to oven and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes or until bottom is golden brown.  Let cool.

Pie filling:

Ingredients
2 cups rhubarb juice
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Coarse salt
3 large egg yolks
plus 4 large egg whites (for meringue)
2 T. unsalted butter

Whisk together 1 cup sugar, the cornstarch, and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Whisk in juice, bring to a boil in a medium saucepan, whisking.  Cook for 1 minute.  Place yolks in a bowl and whisk; gradually whisk in the hot mixture a little at a time.  This is called tempering.  If you pour the hot mixture into the eggs all at once they will curdle.  Once you have added about half of the mixture to the egg yolks pour it all back into the pan.  Cook over medium heat, whisking, until thick about 1 minute.  Whisk in butter and pour into cooled pie crust.  Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Meringue
Preheat broiler with rack  about 6 inches from heat source.  Heat whites and remaining 3/4 cup sugar in a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, whisking, until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot (160 degrees), about 2 minutes.  Transfer to the bowl of a mixer. Whisk on high speed until medium peaks form. Dollop meringue onto pie.  Pop in oven and broil until browned, about 1 minute.

I do hope you will try these recipes.  They really are excellent...

Until next time...enjoy!!!!









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