30.5.08

rhubarb experiment



Tonight I decided to whip up my very own rhubarb crumble. You first may ask 'what the heck is rhubarb?' Interestingly, if you go to the website of the American cable station the Food Network, and do a search for 'rhubarb', you get 61 hits. If you then navigate over to the BBC food website, and do the same, you'll get 113 hits. I never heard about rhubarb until I came to England.

So, what is it? A vegetable indeed. In cold climates as in England (weather is not one of the reasons I live in this otherwise lovely country), most of the plant above ground disappears completely during the winter, and only until April do you begin to see the plant grow again from its root. It's now out in full, with incredibly large leaves that are fan-shaped. We have literally a bush of it in our backyard. Out of nowhere, it's like a phoenix rising out of the ashes. OK, maybe that's a stretch, but you get the point.

The leaves themselves have poisonous substances, however. They include oxalic acid, nephrotoxic acid, and some other unidentified toxin. One needs to consume about 5 kilos of these unpleasanlty sour leaves in order to come to the median lethal dose for oxalic acid. I can't imagine a human being doing this, but nonetheless, be warned.

What is used in foods are the stalks (otherwise known as petioles), which are characteristically deep red in colour. The stalks are ready to be consumed immediately when they are harvested. You can cook the stalks in a variety of ways, but I have seen them more commonly used in dessert recipes. If you stew them, the end-result is a tart sauce, often used as a filling for pies and crumbles (the latter I made an attempt at tonight). Apparently it makes a nice jam but I have never tried it. I will never give up fresh strawberry jam (especially the kind my girl Romy makes back in New England using Connecticut strawberries).

Of historical interest to some, after sugar became affordable to the masses in this country, a stick of rhubarb (coupled with sugar of course) was a popular sweet for children.

I just took it out of the oven, and it looks strange. Agh. And I need clotted cream for this. I don't have any.

My recipe follows:

Filling
1 kg rhubarb (cut stalks from my backyard, washed first and then diced in small pieces)
3 tbsp of Grand Marnier
juice of 1 lime
1 cup orange juice
250g sugar

Crumble
250g flour
400g of oats
1 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
150g sugar

1. Preheat oven 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Combine first rhubarb plus other filling ingredients in a bowl. Mix them well and add this to the bottom of an 8" square cake pan.
3. For the crumble, combine flour, oats, ginger, nutmeg, and sugar in a separate bowl, mixing with a fork. Add melted butter and stir. If the consistency of the crumble is too thick, add a little water. Pour it over the rhubarb filling. You want it to evenly spread over the rhubarb.
4. Place pan in the oven, and bake for 45 minutes. Watch out for the top of the crumble, and make sure it's not overcooked.
5. Once out of the oven, you can serve it hot or cold, with clotted or whipped cream.


6 comments:

Watkin-357 said...

Mmm! Sounds like a treat. However crumbles, especially tart ones like Rhubarb, should be eaten with either double cream (unwhipped) or hot slightly-sweet custard, not clotted cream. Solid creams are a no-no with these kind of desserts. Trust me, my fat stomach can attest to the various attempts ;-)

Simon.

Yannis said...

Thanks man. Appreciate the feedback.
To be honest I wasn't so keen on this recipe.
I don't know. It was OK, but my housemate said 'it's good' as opposed to 'very good', which leads me to believe it was alright.

He had it with ice cream.

Yannis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Watkin-357 said...

Yeah. I admit it's kind of a very odd Rhubarb recipe. I would not use lime or orange juice (way too much acid and citrus undermines the natural flavour of the Rhubarb).

The Grand Marnier sounds nice, but again orangey, so I might be inclined to use ginger and cinnamon in the filling instead (not the crumble).

Also some vanilla essence would add body. So basically you just add a little water, much less sugar (like 1/4), and some butter to the Rhubarb, plus a fair few drops of vanilla essence and a teaspoon of ginger and cinnamon.

And for the crumble, you get rid of the oats (very non-traditional addition there lol), add a little more flour, use demerara sugar, and can add a touch of baking soda if you want a little 'crunchy-puffiness' to the crumble. And TADA! Perhaps something a little less dissapointing.

Simon.

Yannis said...

Thank you Simon. :)

See I thought I used too much flour for the top.
Hmmm...interesting.

The lime was really lovely I have to say. I was going to use lemon but didn't have any, so used this and it came out very nice (the base).

I'll try your version.

Inw said...

Geia sou Yanni,
I have been reading your blog for a while, but this is my first comment. Rhubarb crumble is probably one of the best things in the world and I thought you might want to try this recipe which I usually use. It goes really nicely with hot vanilla custard or vanilla ice-cream. I put about half the amount of caster sugar in the rhubarb since I like it a bit less sweet, but it's up to you!
Ioanna