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David Ross

eG Cook-Off #66: Rhubarb

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Once a year at the height of cherry season here in Washington, I make Joel Robuchon's "Clafoutis Aux Cerises"--Cherry Clafoutis.  This time I added some of the rhubarb that I had frozen a few weeks ago.  Freezing and thawing the rhubarb resulted in some pretty wet, limp stalks when thawed so I worried they had lost a lot of flavor, but in the end I was surprised at how much flavor the rhubarb had retained.

 

I used a basic shortbread crust of melted butter, confectioner's sugar and flour. The cherries are baked with sugar and cherry liqueur in a hot oven for about 15 minutes.  Robuchon recommends saving the juices from the cherries for another use, but I used it in the clafoutis batter.  The batter is simply eggs, sugar, crème fraiche and milk.  The clafoutis bakes in a moderate oven for about 30  minutes.  Once cooled, I dusted the clafoutis with powdered sugar and lightly touched it with a mini blow torch to gently carmelize the top.  It's served at room temperature, but is delicious cold, (as in breakfast this morning).  Served with Tillamook Oregon Strawberry Ice Cream.

 

While this is a cherry dish, the flavor of the rhubarb clearly comes through and really accents the cherries.

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It must be an exceptional year for rhubarb up here--two supermarkets had fresh, thick stalks of rhubarb on Friday.

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Wow. l was surprised today to find more fresh rhubarb in the local market.  I'm starting into huckleberry season so I didn't buy any of the rhubarb, but that's one long season.

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Wow. l was surprised today to find more fresh rhubarb in the local market.  I'm starting into huckleberry season so I didn't buy any of the rhubarb, but that's one long season.

 

How is your rhubarb vodka developing? Shouldn't it be just about ready by now?    :smile:

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How is your rhubarb vodka developing? Shouldn't it be just about ready by now?    :smile:

 

 

How is your rhubarb vodka developing? Shouldn't it be just about ready by now?    :smile:

It's ready, but I've been putting it off to figure out what I would mix it with.  I've developed a way to create an "Icee" type drink using my ice cream maker, so I'm toying with the idea of making a fruit juice "Icee" to mis with the vodka.  Maybe litchee or passion fruit?

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I suppose this is a dish that would fit in two Cook-Off's--our Pork Belly Cook-off here, http://forums.egullet.org/topic/147019-eg-cook-off-65-pork-belly/, and our Rhubarb Cook-Off.  The fancy title of the dish would be "Confit of Pork Belly, Coconut-Lime Rice, Blood Orange Balsamic Syrup and Rhubarb Compote."

 

I posted the pork belly confit recipe and steps during that cook-off, a classic from Thomas Keller.  It's the closest method I've found to evoke the flavors of old-fashioned pork--juicy, fatty and porky.  The rice is pretty basic, just add 1/2 coconut milk and 1/2 water before steaming basmati rice in a rice cooker, along with lemongrass and a quartered lime.  Before serving I'll add some lime zest, butter and black sesame seeds. 

 

The balsamic syrup is the easiest of the garnishes--just reduce blood orange or other balsamic over a medium heat until syrupy.  I liked the sweet and sour flavors of the syrup countering the richness of the pork.  The green onion was mainly for color, but I needed the onion flavor to counter all the sweet and sour going on with the balsamic syrup and rhubarb compote.  And of course, the rhubarb was really what brought this all together.  The dish would not have been complete without it.  I made the compote when we started this Cook-Off and then froze it.  Freezing the compote barely touched the rhubarb flavor and I expect it to be on the Thanksgiving table.

 

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There was rhubarb in a farm stand in Guelph, Ontario, this weekend, along with corn and blueberries!  We've had a cool, wet summer -- does rhubarb crop twice in mild weather?  Never had fresh in late summer. 

 

What we bought is now a part of an Estonian rhubarb cake, made by popular demand for son's birthday. 

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Estonian rhubarb cake sounds interesting. Pictures? Recipe?

I cooked some of my haul, then strained it through a food mill. I plan to try making a sorbet or ice cream with it, but at present the whole lot - including the remaining raw rhubarb - is frozen pending free time.

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Smithy - regarding Estonian rhubarb cake - member Pille who blogs from Estonia has this one on her site http://nami-nami.blogspot.com/2011/06/and-so-rhubarb-season-ends-with-very.html

 

Yes, this is the cake I make -- from her blog, which I think heidih had pointed me to a while ago.  It's unbelievably delicious.  It's really more a pie than a cake, but quite different and really good. 

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The rhubarb season has rolled around again, and our newspaper was good enough to send inspiration my way for Rhubarb Frozen Custard.  (Although the link is to the web site of the Duluth News Tribune, the article is by Leah Eskin and reprinted from the Chicago Tribune.)  The recipe comes together easily.

 

Mix and pasteurize this custard of egg yolks, half-and-half, sugar, salt and vanilla extract:

 

Rhubarb ice cream custard.jpg

 

Cook down a pound of rhubarb cut into chunks, along with sugar and water, to make a sauce:

 

Rhubarb ice cream sauce.jpg

 

Chill both; mix them together and churn.  The result is creamy, tangy and delicious.  

 

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I'll be making it again, but with a couple of adjustments:

 

1.  They say to strain the custard but not the rhubarb sauce.  Although the rhubarb melts down into a nice puddle, it still needs to be pureed, or possibly strained.  Mine came out with strings, as seen in this photo:

 

Rhubarb ice cream sauce fibers.jpg

 

I pureed it with a wand blender, but still had to pick out a few fiber clumps from the finished product.  A coarse strainer might have helped remove them.

 

2.  The recipe makes 6 cups.  That's too much to fit in my Cuisinart ICE-20 (1 quart) machine all at once.  I've now marked this recipe as a double batch for my machine.

 

 

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