Thursday, May 03, 2007

Rhubarb Rhapsody

Rhubarb is popping up all over the island. Check out your local farm market and farmer’s market for this tart and yummy vegetable. Nanaimo’s Foodshare and Community Gardens is also hosting it’s Rhubarb Festival this Saturday. It’s being held at the Foodshare Centre on 271 Pine Street from 10am to 2pm on May 5. There will be fresh local rhubarb and other goodies for sale. Gardening experts will be available to answer your green thumb questions and tours of the community gardens will be given.

I adore rhubarb. I love it in pies, chutneys, jams, cakes, stewed, baked or simply dipped into a bit of sugar. I find that most recipes overwhelm this tangy veggie with way too much sugar in an effort to pummel its tart nature into submission. For shame! It’s charm is its tartness and it’s ability to add some zip into a dessert. Like cranberries, it also goes surprisingly well with some dark chocolate. I definitely have to experiment with a rhubarb chocolate chip sweet roll or muffin soon...

Usually I just chop up a couple pounds of rhubarb, along with a couple green apples and whatever else I have (plums, peaches, cranberries, blueberries), a pinch of cinnamon and couple tablespoons of local wildflower honey. I simply stew it up over low heat with a scant ½ cup of water. The fruit will also release quite a bit of water as well. Cook until the rhubarb is just softened. I usually wait until the end before adding softer fruit like plums and berries.

With my new bounty of rhubarb, I made a Rhubarb Cornmeal Cake. It’s a great fruity cake, perfect for tea time or a nice end to a meal. The recipe is a result of some kitchen experimentation and a craving for rhubarb baked treat.

Looks like the house elf got to the cake before I did ;P

Here’s the recipe:

2 lbs of rhubarb – fresh or frozen – washed and chopped into ½ inch pieces (you could also use other fruits like cranberries, apples, pears, plums, peaches, figs, grapes etc)

½ cup honey (or brown or cane sugar)

Group A - dry ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour ( I used a mix of True Grains bakery’s sifted flour and organic kamut flour)
½ cup polenta or corn meal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger

Group B

½ cup butter
¾ cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Group C

1 cup whole milk yogurt

1-Mix fruit and honey together and let sit for about 1 hour to macerate. That’s fancy schmancy talk for suck the juices out of the fruit.
2- Preheat over 350F

3-In a medium sized bowl, combine together Group A (dry) ingredients
4-In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar. Once creamed well, add eggs and vanilla = Group B
5-With a spatula or wooden spoon, mix in Group A & C into Group B(butter mixture) alternating between A & C. Combine until it almost just combined. Do NOT overmix
6-Add in macerated fruit and fold in. The batter will look like the dog’s breakfast. Don’t worry, it’ll bake up fine.
7-Pour into a prepared 9-10 inch round pan (I used a 10 inch springform pan) and bake for 40-50 minutes.
8- Check with toothpick for doneness.Let cool on rack and enjoy!

Last night, I had my Spinners’ and Weavers’ Guild meeting and DH had a Guys’ Night In with a friend so we were going to be eating dinner at different times. I whipped up a batch of bison chili in the slow cooker for when the guys surfaced from their video games for a bite and it was piping hot and waiting for me when I got home from my meeting.

At the meeting, I took the opportunity to beg for advice on plying my handspun yarn. I had a roomful of experts that were more than happy to offer their words of wooly wisdom and give me a quick plying tutorial.

With the support and tutelage of my spinning mentors, I managed to finished my first 2-ply 100 mile yarn:

Ain't it sweet? :)

I'm so proud. I have it drying right now. My silly little brain is dizzy with ideas of what I could knit up. For more spinning babble check out my 100 mile fiber blog.

Have a great day!


100 Mile Diet Nanaimo Challenge

1 comment:

Favorite Apron said...

My rhubarb is just out of the ground, and my salivary glands are positively aching at the thought of the first rhubarb pie.