Sunday, 6 May 2012

What to do with... rhubarb?

Rhubarb has a bad name for some people; and for others it may be nostalgic. Both these people associate it with this stringy compote substance, with too much - or too little - sugar. To be honest, my father was the only one in my family who ate rhubarb occasionally; I never tried it.

When we took over the allotment, we accepted a huge rhubarb plant with it. First it looked horrific - 'is that bulb from outer space?' - but when it grew into pretty red stems and large leafs, it was actually the first thing that 'greened' our garden. We had to try it though, and the taste was amazing! Somewhere between grapefruit and passionfruit; I can't believe it's made out of Dutch clay! 
However, licking the rhubarb stems, we soon found out that a sweetener was definitively needed to continue eating it. And yes, cooking was the only thing I knew, but it sure did not enhance the vegetable (or is it fruit?). So, I made a pie out of it: a kind of applepie, but then I replaced half of the apples with chopped rhubarb.

Now that the second spring of our garden has approached, it is time to harvest our sour friend again. Throughout the year I collected ideas and recipes for it. Next to more mainstream rhubarb crumble or pies, these are my favourites (and they are easy to make too!):

Rhubarb - apple sorbet - cook 200 milliliters organic apple juice with 150 grams of sugar. Add vanilla and 700 grams of chopped rhubarb and cook for 15 minutes. Mash it and put it in the freezer for about four hours. Don't forget to stir every half hour. 

Rhubarb cheesecake - make a dough, crumble cookies or mix chocolate with cornflakes for the base. Mix Mascarpone or cream cheese with stiff whipped cream, sugar and a bit of vanilla. Chop the rhubarb in small pieces and bake it in the oven with sugar until it's soft. Drain it, and when cold, top it on the cheesecake.
(Salad dressing - from the drained fluid above, you can make a nice vinaigrette for salads, with goat cheese for example)

Rhubarb - rosewater syrup - or Sharbat-e reevas, a traditional Middle Eastern drink.  To make the rhubarb syrup: add 400 grams of sugar to 500 grams of rhubarb and leave it for about 1,5 hours.  Pour 250 milliliters of water with it and let it cook for 20 minutes. Filter it and boil it down with lemon juice. For this sharbat, add two spoons of rosewater or rose petals. To serve the drink, mix one part syrup with three parts water and some ice.

Rhubarb cake - add pieces of rhubarb on top of your favorite home-made cake before you shove it in the oven.

Rhubarb vodka - chop two or three dry rhubarb stems, cover it with 25 grams of sugar en put it in a glass jar. Add 700 milliliters vodka and close the jar well. You can also add spices, lemon or ginger for an even more original twist. Sieve the drink after two or three weeks. Add ice and enjoy the spring afternoons. 

1 comment:

  1. I'll definitely try the rhubarb-rosewater syrup one day!
    My favorite: make a rhubarb compote and add strawberries. Put some whipped cream on top and serve with home-baked ginger snaps, which you then use as eatable spoons. Delicious!