Today, May 13, was Mother’s Day. But it was also the first harvest of my Rhubarb for the year. This is a happy coincidence for 2 reasons. One is that I was able to make my Rhubarb Muffins for our workout today (complete with Mother’s Day Music). But secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Rhubarb reminds me of home in Minnesota and all of the Rhubarb dishes my Mom as well as my Aunts make. And so, in honor of my Mom, on to the Rhubarb.
For those of you who don’t know rhubarb, it grows very well here in Washington as well as Minnesota. It’s easy to grow, pretty to look at and has lots and lots of uses. I have 4 plants in my yard that look quite terrific mixed in with other perennials. Just cut or pull out the stalks and cook away.
The Rhubarb Muffin Recipe here is the one I used in my Cafe – 21 Union Cafe- but it originally came from my Aunt Darleen’s muffin booklet – Muffin Magic. Yes, REALLY. I add more Rhubarb than she did and use some cardamom as well. They are very moist so it may appear that they are not done. Since they are so moist, I err on the side of overdone. This makes around 18 muffins, I think. (I am always doubling or tripling the recipe for quantity).
- 3 C. Flour (I use 1 C. whole wheat and 2 Unbleached white)
- 1 t. baking soda
- 1 t. salt
- 1 1/2 C. packed brown sugar
- 1 C. buttermilk
- 2/3 C. vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 2 t. vanilla (don’t overdo the vanilla like we all normally do)
- 3 C chopped rhubarb (maybe 1/4″ or less dice. I think they are better with not too fine a chop so you can get some of that rhubarb ‘bite’. I will even use 4 C. rhubarb although the original only calls for 2 C.
- 1 C. chopped nuts
- 1/2 C. brown sugar
- 2 t. Cinnamon
- 1/4-1/2 t. cardamom.
- 1/2 C. finely chopped nuts.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.Combine Flour, soda and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix brown sugar, buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Make sure the brown sugar is not sitting in lumps at the bottom of the bowl. In a third bowl combine the last 4 ingredients together for the crumble topping and set aside. Combine, a bit at a time, the wet with dry flour mixture. Try not to over mix but do get it blended. Fold in the rhubarb and the nuts and scoop into muffin cups or greased muffin tins.Sprinkle the tops with the crumble and bake for 25-35 minutes. Take out when the toothpick comes out clean and relatively dry. Let cool.
There are many Rhubarb recipes but I’ll add one more and then link to a couple more of my friend Tom Conway of Vashon Island and his wonderful Tall Clover Farms.
Rhubarb Crisp of course is a staple in many Minnesota farmhouses but Rhubarb sauce is my dad’s favorite. We had it a lot for dessert, occasionally with ice cream. My Dad always would dump a bunch of heavy cream over it instead which we thought was gross because we thought the Rhubarb would curdle the milk. And he loved teasing us and urging us to try it. We never did.
But Rhubarb Fool is a layering of rhubarb sauce and whipped cream in a dessert dish. Amazing and pretty to boot. The sour/sweet of the rhubarb and then the creamy smoothness of the whipping cream make it a real treat. I occasionally add some frozen blueberries to my rhubarb sauce which turns it from pretty pink to magnificent magenta. Tastes great and easy to make. And talk about beautiful presentation. (I know. So gay. Lol)
- 2 1/4 lbs rhubarb – ends cut off and cut into 4-6″ lengths
- 1/3 C. orange juice
- 1 C white sugar
- 1 C frozen blueberries (entirely optional)
- pinch of salt
- 2 C cold heavy cream
- 3 T. sugar
- 1 T vanilla (or less)
Dump the trimmed rhubarb in a bowl of cold water to leach out a bit of the acid and remove any grit. Drain and chop into 3/4″ slices (cut the stalks in half if they are enormous)Combine orange juice, only 3/4 of the cup of sugar and a pinch of salt in a saucepan (large enough that will hold the rhubarb) and bring to a boil. Add the rhubarb and bring back to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer.Stir only occasionally (otherwise the rhubarb looses all shape completely) just until the rhubarb starts to break down and is tender – 7-10 minutes.Transfer to a glass bowl to cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until cold (at least an hour)
One half hour or so before whipping the cream, put the bowl and the beaters in the refrigerator to chill. Beat the cream and the remaining 1/4 C. sugar and vanilla in a mixer starting on low speed and gradually increasing speed until you have whipped cream in soft peaks.
To serve, layer rhubarb, whipped cream, rhubarb, whipped cream, etc. depending on the height of your dessert dish but ending with whipped cream. Serve immediately.
Tom Conway has a terrific and entertaining blog about his farm – Tall Clover Farm. There are tons of recipes and gardening information and some of the most beautiful food and garden photography I have seen. (It is his photo that I stole at the top of my post.) Here are links to a couple of his Rhubarb recipes: