Try out these rhubarb recipes

Three ways to en­joy the tasty crim­son plant

The Southern Berks News - - FRONT PAGE - By Emily Ryan For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

There’s no mis­tak­ing those showy (and poi­sonous) leaves, crim­son stalks and tart taste. All hail rhubarb sea­son!

“In the past, all small farms had rhubarb. It was re­li­able,” said Dorene Pasekoff of Hill Creek Farm in Pottstown. “The tra­di­tional way to do it was pies. Peo­ple called it the ‘pie plant.’”

Strawberry-rhubarb pie de­lights cus­tomers at Fre­con Farms in Boy­er­town.

“I just like that it has that tart­ness to it, so it’s not overly sweet,” ex­plained pas­try chef Holly Haas. “It sells re­ally well be­cause as soon as you say it’s fresh and lo­cal, peo­ple love it.”

For a twist, she adds amaretto.

“It’s just enough to give it a back fla­vor of al­mond/amaretto, but it doesn’t over­whelm it,” Haas said.

At home, try her recipe for strawberry-rhubarb cof­fee cake — so good fam­ily mem­bers may vie for the last piece. Just don’t get in a “rhubarb,” base­ball slang for “a heated dis­pute.” And here’s an­other fun fact: Though of­ten mixed with fruit, rhubarb’s a peren­nial vegetable.

“You don’t know what to do with it. It doesn’t de­scribe it­self well,” noted Pat Brett, co-owner of Kim­ber­ton Whole Foods. “You can look at a head of broc­coli or a pep­per and know what to do with it.”

But therein lies the magic of rhubarb. Cooked with sugar, “it be­comes trans­formed.”

“It’s a won­der­ful food be­cause it’s so unas­sum­ing. It turns into this de­li­cious dessert that you just want to keep eat­ing,” she said. “I love foods that are sur­pris­ing to your taste buds and your health.”

Cel­e­brate spring with her strawberry-rhubarb up­side-down cake.

“When you turn it over, it just be­comes a glis­ten­ing, sweet top­ping to a cake,” Brett de­scribed. “It’s so per­fect.”

Don’t de­lay since rhubarb “is only avail­able for a short time.”

Back at Hill Creek Farm, “the plants are do­ing beau­ti­fully,” said Pasekoff, who picks to or­der. “They’re ab­so­lutely gor­geous.”

Strawberry-Rhubarb Cof­fee Cake INGREDIENTS

For crumb: 6 ta­ble­spoons but­ter, melted 1 cup all-pur­pose flour ½ cup brown sugar ¼ tea­spoon salt For cake: 1 stick but­ter, soft­ened 1 cup white sugar 2 eggs 1 tea­spoon vanilla ½ tea­spoon bak­ing pow­der ¼ tea­spoon salt 1 cup all-pur­pose flour, di­vided 1 cup rhubarb, chopped 1 cup straw­ber­ries, sliced 1 ta­ble­spoon brown sugar

Ex­tra but­ter and flour to coat pan

IN­STRUC­TIONS

Pre­heat oven to 350 de­grees. Grease an 8-inch square pan with melted but­ter and coat with flour. Set aside.

To make crumb top­ping: Whisk to­gether melted but­ter, brown sugar and salt. Add flour and mix un­til it re­sem­bles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

To make cake: Cream to­gether but­ter and sugar un­til light and fluffy, about 10 min­utes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat un­til light and creamy, about 2 min­utes. Add bak­ing pow­der, salt and ¾ cup of flour to the but­ter mix­ture and mix un­til com­bined. With re­main­ing ¼ cup of flour, toss with the rhubarb, straw­ber­ries and brown sugar. Spoon half of cake bat­ter into the 8-by-8-inch pan and spread evenly. Top with the fruit mix­ture and spoon the re­main­ing bat­ter over top. Sprin­kle the crumb mix­ture evenly over the cake. Bake for 40 to 45 min­utes or un­til a tooth­pick in­serted in the cen­ter comes out clean. Cool be­fore en­joy­ing!

RECIPE COUR­TESY OF PAS­TRY CHEF HOLLY HAAS

Strawberry-Rhubarb Up­side-Down Cake

This is a gluten-free recipe. White flour can sub­sti­tute for gluten-free flour.

INGREDIENTS

Bot­tom layer: 4 ta­ble­spoons but­ter or non-dairy sub­sti­tute

¾ cup or­ganic brown sugar

1/3 cup or­ganic chopped al­monds or hazel­nuts

1 pint or­ganic straw­ber­ries, topped and halved

3 cups rhubarb, sliced about ½-inch thick Cake bat­ter: ½ cup but­ter or nondairy sub­sti­tute 1 cup or­ganic sugar 2 large eggs ½ cup or­ganic milk or ap­ple juice

1 tea­spoon gluten-free vanilla ex­tract

1½ cups Bob’s Red Mill “One to One” gluten-free mix

2 tea­spoons bak­ing pow­der

½ tea­spoon salt

IN­STRUC­TIONS

Pre­heat oven to 350 de­grees. But­ter or spray a 9-inch wide, 2-inch deep cake pan. Slice straw­ber­ries and rhubarb. In a small sauté pan or pot, melt to­gether the but­ter and brown sugar, then pour into cake pan. Swirl in pan to spread evenly. Sprin­kle al­monds over top. Press in strawberry halves in con­cen­tric cir­cles or any pat­tern that pleases your eye. Scat­ter rhubarb evenly over top­pings.

Melt ½ cup but­ter in the pan or pot. Mean­while stir to­gether the flour, bak­ing pow­der, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Once com­bined in bowl, make a well in the cen­ter of dry ingredients be­fore adding eggs, milk or juice, but­ter and vanilla. Stir to­gether just un­til com­bined.

Spread bat­ter over top­ping in cake pan. Smooth the top and bake at 350 de­grees for about 45 min­utes, or un­til tester comes out clean. Set on rack to cool for 5 min­utes and then in­vert onto serv­ing plate. Shake pan gen­tly to loosen all the top­pings (you can al­ways lift any sticky bits out with a fork and place on the cake). Serve warm or al­low to cool. De­li­cious with vanilla ice cream! This cake keeps well, cov­ered loosely at room tem­per­a­ture, for sev­eral days. RECIPE COUR­TESY OF PAT BRETT

Rhubarb Cheese­cake Dessert

Prize-win­ning dessert at our 2016 Rhubarb Fes­ti­val.

INGREDIENTS

Bot­tom crust: 1 cup all-pur­pose flour ½ cup packed brown sugar ¼ tea­spoon salt ¼ cup cold but­ter ½ cup wal­nuts, chopped 1 tea­spoon vanilla ex­tract

Fill­ing:

2 (8-ounce) pack­ages cream cheese, soft­ened ¾ cup sugar 3 eggs, lightly beaten 1 tea­spoon vanilla ex­tract Top­ping: 1 cup sugar 2 ta­ble­spoons corn­starch ¼ tea­spoon ground cin­na­mon ¼ cup wa­ter 3 cups chopped fresh rhubarb

IN­STRUC­TIONS

In a bowl, com­bine flour, brown sugar and salt; cut in but­ter un­til mix­ture re­sem­bles coarse crumbs. Stir in wal­nuts and vanilla. Press into a greased 9-by13-inch bak­ing pan. Bake at 375 de­grees for 10 min­utes. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar un­til light and fluffy. Add eggs; beat on low speed just un­til com­bined. Add vanilla. Pour over crust. Bake for 20 to 25 min­utes or un­til cen­ter is set and edges are light brown. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour.

In a large saucepan, com­bine the sugar, corn­starch and cin­na­mon. Grad­u­ally add wa­ter and stir un­til smooth. Add rhubarb. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for 5 min­utes or un­til thick­ened. Cool. Pour over fill­ing. Re­frig­er­ate at least 1 hour. Re­frig­er­ate left­overs. RECIPE COUR­TESY OF KITCHEN KET­TLE VIL­LAGE

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF KITCHEN KET­TLE VIL­LAGE

It’s not too late to en­ter the Best Rhubarb Dessert Con­test.

PHOTO BY EMILY RYAN

Even bet­ter to­gether: Rhubarb pairs well with straw­ber­ries.

PHOTO BY EMILY RYAN

Strawberry-rhubarb cof­fee cake makes a sweet break­fast or snack.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF DORENE PASEKOFF

‘Mac­Don­ald’ rhubarb grows at Hill Creek Farm in Pottstown.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF KITCHEN KET­TLE VIL­LAGE

Try the recipe for this award-win­ning rhubarb cheese­cake dessert.

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