I’ve got rhubarb on the brain. It is a fact that is a little odd given it is not a vegetable I grew up eating. Yep, vegetable! Who knew? Rhubarb is a sour spring veggie!
Or maybe I knew…but didn’t care enough about the lowly rhubarb to remember. But this year, I can’t stop thinking about it. Perhaps it is the sheer number of tempting recipes I have seen on blogs. Or the gorgeous red stalks at the farmer’s market. Or maybe the tasty rhubarb jams & such coming out of the Can Jam. Who knows the reason, but the outcome is that my thoughts are having a rhubarb invasion.
Rhubarb has a long list of touted health benefits including:
- anticancer agent
- mild laxative
- improve digestive system
- balance stomach acid
- reduce blood pressure and cholesterol
- eliminates hot flashes
- good source of calcium
- anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties
***Warning though! The leaves are toxic to eat, so you will want to steer clear of them. In fact, I planted it on the outside of my fence because the Babylady (& ladydog, if she sneaks garden access) loves to chomp on anything with green leaves. [Because "it's my favorite green Mimi" she exclaims enthusiastically.]
Want to read about some incredible sounding rhubarb-starring desserts? And then invite me over for a taste test? You will, won’t you? Rhubarb Sponge Pudding, Rhubarb Quick Bread, Rhubarb Liqueur (that I heard about from here), Rhubarb Custard Pie, Roasted Rhubarb (with wine & vanilla) and Rhubarb Sorbet. I have 2 batches of the liqueur going (Rhubarb and Strawberry-Rhubarb). Julia over at What Julia Ate is also feeling rhubarb-y- check it out!
Friends & Friend-a-versaries
I wanted to whip up some ice cream, so the Ladyfriend and I decided on Rhubarb Ice Cream. Actually, I think mostly I decided on that. It would be decidedly unlike her to spontaneously choose rhubarb-anything. She’s a food-skeptic that one. At this point she appears somewhat curious about it, yet unconvinced. However, that could just be the inherent look of someone writing their dissertation. She’ll come around. She almost always does!
But oh no, friends…that isn’t all. I decided it needed a caramel topping. This caramel topping. And the Ladyfriend just knew we needed chocolate chip cookies. Or course, not any ol’ chocolate chip cookies. Browned- Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. With sea salt sprinkles. My girl makes a mean chocolate chip cookie.
We rock that way.
Rhubarb-a-Friend-a-Versary Ice Cream & Cookies
Ice Cream (adapted slightly from Not Without Salt):
3- 3 1/2 cups Rhubarb chopped in 1/2″ chunks
2 oz (1/2 stick) butter- unsalted
1 Vanilla bean, seeds removed
1- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup brown sugar, not packed
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
5 drops orange blossom extract (optional)
- Combine the rhubarb, butter, vanilla bean & seeds, vanilla extract, sugar and salt in a medium sauce pan.
- Cover and place on medium-low heat. Simmer until Rhubarb is soft. This should take about 15 minutes.
- Remove the lid and smash up the rhubarb with a wooden spoon.
- In a medium bowl combine the cream and milk then add the braised Rhubarb. Add the cherry blossom extract
- Let chill completely. I refrigerated overnight.
- Churn in your ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Verdict: Pretty good flavor, but too much of a “whipped cream” tasting base. Which might be fine for some, but I don’t really like whipped cream much. I guess I prefer more of a custard base to my ice cream. But the flavors were great. Next time: custard base!
Salted Caramel Sauce (adapted sort of from Smitten Kitchen & The Washington Post):
(Note: Both recipes name it butterscotch sauce…but to me it tastes like rich salted caramel. Call it what you like, it is sinfully fabulous)
4 tablespoons or 1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar. (I use this kind and trust me, it makes a difference. It is ridiculously superior)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2- 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, plus more to taste (I used about 3/4 tsp)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, plus more to taste
- Melt butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the sugar, cream and salt and whisk until well blended.
- Bring to a very gentle boil and cook for about five minutes, whisking occasionally.
- Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract, stirring to combine.
- Taste sauce carefully to see if you want more salt or vanilla. If so, add & stir again.
- Put far away. Unless you want to eat it all before it’s intended debut.
The sauce will thicken as it cools. Refrigerate in a recycled jar and reheated in a microwave or small saucepan. Makes 2/3-3/4 cup sauce.
Verdict: Ridiculous. Completely ridiculous how good and how easy this is. Dangerous!
Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from the original Tollhouse recipe):
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup browned butter (if you’d like a butter browning refresher, look here)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (get the best you can find…but I tell you, the Tollhouse morsels are just fine)
- Preheat oven to 375
- Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.
- Beat browned butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Gradually beat in flour mixture.
- Stir in chocolate chips.
- Sprinkle lightly with a bit of sea salt.
- Drop by rounded tablespoon on to ungreased baking sheets & bake for 9-11 minutes. Or so.
Verdict: Delicious! The browned butter and sea salt on top takes the class to a whole other level. Next time might brown the butter a bit more and use slightly less flour–maybe just 2 cups total.
Rhubarb? Cookies? Salted Caramel? Good friends? Awesome!
(** Enneagram: In case you were curious I am a ’6.’ Oddly enough, Briggs and I are both 6′s and our ladyfriends’ both 3′s)
Random Rhubarb Bits
Shall I leave you with a weird lil’ clip? I should, shouldn’t I? Here is some Rhubarb Tart & John Cleese (Monty Python):
or maybe you’d rather like some John Fogerty & Rhubarb Pie?