Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Marriage and Rhubarb

This blog is about marriage...not the human kind....I am in favor of interacial, intereligious, homosexual, and even heterosexual marriage for those that want it...(not for me, though.  I did it once, and that's enough.)

It's food marriage that I want to talk about.  Oftentimes vegetables and fruits that grow in the same region taste good together, but sometime fruits and veggies that grow in different climates do just fine with our locals.  And so we enjoy mangos, oranges and bananas here in CT while we wait for local strawberries, blueberries, peaches and apples, each in its own season.

It is rhubarb that I think does much better as a spinster.  I love rhubarb.  The stalks come up so early, April and May, and the flavor of this "fruit" (It is really a vegetable), when properly sweetened is tart and refreshing, the very essence of Spring!  But why team it with strawberries from California?  This is such a common mismatch!  It would seem that everyone believes that rhubarb requires strawberries to be palatable!  Do they not know how to prepare it?  Just slicing and cooking in a little juice with sugar makes a delicious compote...

I recently figured out that macerating rhubarb and then roasting it makes for an excellant sauce or compote.  The recipe will follow.  But first I want to talk about strawberries.  Their fragrance, flavor and texture are subtle, delicately delicious.  In June, when they are local here, I want to glut on them with biscuits, sundaes, pies!  Strawberries are lovely in season; otherwise they taste like damp cotton.  Rhubarb is intense and assertive...Why ruin it with trucked-in flavorless strawberries?  And once the strawberries come in, if they are good local ones, why add rhubarb, the plants of which now need to replenish stalks for another year.

I do think rhubarb can have flings with other dessert flavors.  It is terrific on coconut pie (See p. 225 in Vol.I of The Best of Bloodroot cookbook) , or the recipe for Rhubarb Almond Cake flavored with orange juice and rind, in our 2011 calendar.

It is just that strawberries don't enhance rhubarb and rhubarb does nothing for strawberries!  This is what divorce is for....

                                          Roasted Rhubarb Sauce

1)  Slice 1 pound rhubarb.  Turn into a shallow stainless steel or pyrex pan.  Add 3/4 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, dash salt and half of a split vanilla bean.  (If you save vanilla beans that you have scraped seeds from in your sugar bin, as I do, you can add these decorticated beans to the rhubarb instead of the whole split bean),  Stir.  Let sit 30 minutes.
2) Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Roast rhubarb, stirring occasionally until edges turn crimson, about 20 minutes.

This makes a delicious  sauce to top rice pudding or to eat as is.  Season with a little cardamom if you like.