2011/06/16

Two ways... (Roasted Rhubarb w/ Strawberries & Rhubarb-Hibiscus Compote)

Rhubarb.  Rhubarb. Rhubarb. 


Rhubarb has been around in my life, like forever...  Seriously.  Since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.  The irritating (but cute) little bug-child that was always underfoot.  Back when being a know-it-all was still considered more "precocious" than annoying. 

I always knew that at certain times of the year (long before I understood the whole "seasonal" thing...), there would be a pot of these long greeny-pinky things stewing.  I knew that this made my mouth pucker - it looked like celery but it sure didn't taste like celery. 

It grew in two patches behind the garage/ barn.  And had huge green leaves.  And it got MOWED AROUND - not over. (That's how I knew it was special...)


Dad would cut it up into pieces.  And put it into a pot with lots of sugar and cook it.  And we would eat it.  Out of a bowl (I always made sure I kept sugar nearby so I could add extra). Everyone went crazy for it.  (Except for a few people who claimed not to like it - which I SOOOOO didn't get...  Yes, I had freakish taste buds even back then.)  If we were lucky - a strawberry rhubarb pie would show up sometime thereafter...


And then it would go away.  And not show up for a long time.  And I would forget about this strange food that only seemed to show up in that spot behind the garage.  (I never saw it in the store). 


At some point in time, I finally placed a name to this mysterious food.  As I grew older, this "odd" concoction left the perimiter of my radar.  I suppose in the back of my mind, I knew it was there; but didn't pay much attention. 


At some point, nostalgia kicked in and I began to remember those two little patches behind the garage.  I started to pay attention to the seasons.  And dad would (and still does) walk out back behind the garage with his jack knife and a plastic bag and cut a couple pounds for me.  The big leafy greens from the top would get thrown into the field.  The stalks would go into the bag. 


At first, I wasn't too brave with my bounty.  I would stew it and eat it out of the bowl, just like I remembered it from my childhood days.  And then, I grew a little braver.  Going from stewed to preserves.  And then using it as a filling for pies and pastries and other sundry items. 



It took many years to realize what that little treasure was out behind my parent's garage/ barn.  Or how lucky I was to have such easy access to the "fresh stuff".  (I have seen some of the stuff in the stores, and let me tell you people... it ain't always pretty.)  I know that I should probably just go ahead and transplant some of it over to my garage and start my own little patch.  But somehow, it just wouldn't be the same....


Since rhubarb was in season, I chose to prepare it two ways.  Why?  Because I could, that's why.  I started out with a rhubarb-hibiscus compote (shown above) & used it to make mini-crostatas. 

Secondly, I  made Dorie's roasted rhubarb (with strawberries - sorry, I had to dabble) - which, I guess was okay, because I think this was another non-recipe (more like a technique that screams "play with me"). 


The purpose of roasting the rhubarb is to keep the crunch going, right?  I am certain that if I had not grown up on stewed rhubarb, I would have fallen in love with the texture and would be able to sop up bowls of this on it's own.  But, alas!  I was nursed on stewed rhubarb and that is what I most long for.  It's a nostalgia thing...


M'thinks this would have been nice inside of a free-form crust...


Rhubarb Hibiscus Compote
Adapted from Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain

2 lbs rhubarb stalks, rinsed, ends trimmed and cut into 3/4" pieces (~6 cups, divided)
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
2 Tbs dried hibiscus flowers

Prepare the rhubarb as noted above.  Place 4 cups of the prepared rhubarb in a heavy bottom 5-quart capacity pot.  Place the hibiscus leaves in a cheesecloth bundle and place in the pot with the rhubarb.  Add the brown sugar, stir to combine. 

Cover the mixture and cook over medium-low heat for ~15 minutes until the rhubarb starts to break down.  At this point, take the cover off and turn the heat up to medium and cook for another 15 minutes or so (stir continuously) until the rhubarb is thick and a spoon leaves a trail at the bottom of the pot. 

During the last five minutes of cooking time, add the remaining two cups of rhubarb & stir to combine.  (You want to leave these pieces with a bit of texture). 

Remove pot from heat & pour mixture into a pie plate or baking dish to cool.  Once the mixture is cool, remove the cheesecloth bundle (be sure to squeeze it out to make sure you are extracting any juice from it into the compote) & discard.  Use as a filling or a condiment - the compote will keep well in a glass jar for about a week or so.   

This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie.  Come check out what everyone else has been up to!

30 comments:

  1. Looks great, Cher. I wonder if it's a regional thing - I never grew up eating rhubarb and haven't developed a taste for it. I decided to sit this one out, but am curious to see what everyone made.

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  2. Love the compote Cher - and the croatata are beautiful. How lucky you are to have ready access to rhubarb. As a kid, I hated it, now I adore it.

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  3. I am so glad I tried rhubarb. It was delicious. Your recipes look great. Did you post to FFwD? I couldn't find the link.
    http://myblackpoodles.blogspot.com/2011/06/french-fridays-roasted-rhubarb.html

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  4. I love rhubarb too! Our house came with a rhubarb patch, so this recipe was perfectly timed. Wasn't this good? I like that you added strawberries. How are roasted strawberries? Sounded interesting. Funny, I have Good to the Grain checked out from the library right and the rhubarb-hibiscus compote is one of the recipes I flagged to try before it goes back.

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  5. I made some little tartlets myself out of mine instead of the whole ice cream thing. Yours look beautiful!

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  6. I am also a rhubarb lover. Yours looks absolutely delicious! I did not get any crunch in mine…it was more like stewed…but delicious anyway! Great post!

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  7. Hi Cher, Oh this looks good in the free form tarts! I grew up enjoying stewed rhubarb in a little bowl for dessert and I think I loved it from the beginning. Great post, very inspiring;-)

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  8. Rhubarb has never been on my radar until I started reading food blogs. I have never seen it in my life! I can only imagine the flavor in the compote. Hibiscus tea is one of my favorites.

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  9. Hibiscus! That's so cool! I'm adding that to my Food Bucket list.

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  10. I'm impressed that you did two variations with the roasted rhubarb, but I adore your tartlets!

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  11. In my whole entire life, I've probably only eaten rhubarb twice because they don't grow here. So I'm green with envy at your parents rhubarb patch, and now your compote and lovely crostata! Now I have to wait till the next time our rhubarb gets flown in from Australia...if I blink I might miss it :-(. Darn.

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  12. Oh my gosh. Your rhubarb looks delish. Love all the different applications you've shown here. I'd never tasted it before but now I think I'll crave it. Your photos are amazing!

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  13. Delicious rhubarb, both ways! Those tartlets look sumptuous.

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  14. Looks delish, Cher! I love the free form tartlets you made. I think I want to eat one. I have never been a fan of rhubarb but would like to try it again. I am wondering if our local farms grow it. I am sure it has a short season probably like the timing of strawberries. Missed this one but did make the ribs but didn't cook them until Sunday for nephew's birthday.

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  15. I grew up with a rhubarb patch in our yard...and loved my mom's rhubarb pie. Lucky you, having such a bountiful supply...both your dishes look marvelous!

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  16. Yum! Both version looks so good. And great idea of preparing it two ways.

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  17. I've never actually had rhubarb, but after reading so many posts about it--especially with compote recipes--I think i'm going to have to dabble. If my supermarket ever gets a shipment that's deemed fit for sale, that is.

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  18. mmmmm! I am after those tartelets...yummmmm.
    I, too, love rhubarb, but I didn't discover it until about 10 years ago... before that I thought it was "red celery" so I didn't touch it. :))

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  19. As usual, loved your story. Very sweet and reminded me of a little patch of fresh mint at my own Grandmother's house. How that little mint survived the boroughs of New York and the 30 inches of space in her driveway, was beyond any of us. But it was special and the memories are as well. We are going to revisit this whole rhubarb escapade and Nana hit 5 stores looking for more today. None secured. And I am so making those little tart things of yours :)

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  20. It would be great as a galette! Both ways look fabulous, Cher! What wonderful memories you have of this growing in your backyard.

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  21. I am loving the rhubarb hibiscus! Sounds fabulous:)

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  22. I really like what you did with your lovely FRESH rhubarb...looks so tasty...wish is could grow here because after looking at a few blogs, including yours, I'd love to have some to play with.

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  23. Love the changes to your blog Cher. Really nice!
    I read that strawberries go great with rhubarb. Wanted to try it but since I'm a rhubarb novice thought I should try it on it's own first. Sounds like you have great rhubarb memories though!

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  24. I love your mini-crostatas. You did such a wonderful job with this week's recipe. I love your story about your dad going behind the barn to get the rhubarb.

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  25. I've been eating rhubarb from the garden since I was a kid too, and I also get a huge amount from my mother's garden every year. I love it stewed too, but use it in so many ways. Your tarts look wonderful. I made strawberry rhubarb tarts too.

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  26. Love the idea of a rhubarb crostata, and, of course, anything will taste better if it's weensy and cute too!

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  27. Kim Boyce's recipe is on my radar right now, too. I love your version. I like that you combined strawberries with your rhubarb for roasting - that's always a stellar combination.

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  28. I'm revisiting your rhubarb post Cher and while here, I'm noticing (along with your amazing rhubarb) the cute, cute, cute background of your blog. I'm thinking it would make some really, really cute painted wine glasses and tiles. I'm wondering if you could share with me where you found such a sweet pattern and if you think there is anyway I could use it to design a few items? I figure it doesn't hurt to ask, right? BTW, I'm doing a giveaway on my blog right now for a set of 4 painted wine glasses in celebration of my one year blog birthday. I'd love to have you enter if you're interested.
    If you can share the info regarding your background, can you email me? info@kudoskitchenbyrenee.com thanks Cher! Hope you don't mind me asking.

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  29. Oooh, love the compote! Well done! My rhubarb didn't keep any crunch, either - I'm going to go out on a limb and say that my store-bought was not so fresh. I loved the stringy, syrupy mess, tho! It was great!

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  30. I have memories of my Dad harvesting and cooking rhubarb too. For years it was only something that came from the garden. However I was one of those people who claimed not to like it. Luckily I like it now!

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