Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Being from the Northeast, rhubarb (photo on right) is not a common vegetable for me. You rarely, if ever, have rhubarb anything in NYC restaurants. From watching television shows and reading books that take place in the South and other parts of the country where rhubarb is eaten on a regular basis, I had a curiosity for this vegetable used in dessert pies. Since I could not find a restaurant that served rhubarb pie, I decided I had to make it myself so off I went on an Internet search for rhubarb pie recipes. And all of the recipes also included strawberries. I could not find a single recipe that had only rhubarb and I could not figure out why, but I said oh well, let me just try it this way and see how it tastes.
Oh my gosh, once I cooked the rhubarb, I realized why the strawberries and ton of sugar needed to be added. This is the the most tart vegetable in the American diet. The only thing that compares to it is karela (see photo on left), an Indian vegetable my mom has been trying to force me to eat since I was a child. Rhubarb is so bitter that it cannot be eaten without a large amount of sugar added. Anyway, I tried the rhubarb strawberry pie and it was so delicious it became one of my favorite pies. Whenever the Amish people come to the Farmers Markets I always buy one, since I don't always have time to make it.
Rhubarb is not something that you can usually find at your local supermarket - you have to go to one of the gourmet markets to get it - Fairway, Whole Foods or Manhattan Fruit Exchange in Chelsea Market are good places in the city to find it. Of course, it is also available at the Union Square Farmers Market when it is in season. Instead of a pie, here is another way to use rhubarb. - please experiment with this unusual ingredient and let me know what you think of this recipe! In addition to rhubarb, cardamom is used in this recipe. Cardamom is the most common sweet spice used in Indian and Scandinavian cuisine. It is the equivalent of cinnamon, for American cuisine. It is very strong - one of those things you either love or hate - like cilantro!
Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp with Cardamom and Nutmeg
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 cups 1/2-inch thick slices fresh rhubarb (approximately 2 pounds)
2 cups halved strawberries
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Mix first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add butter; rub in with fingertips until moist clumps form.
For filling, preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a square baking dish. In a large bowl, combine all filling ingredients and stir to combine. Let stand about 15 minutes.
Spread filling in baking dish, Sprinkle topping over the top of filling. Bake until topping is golden brown and crisp and filling is bubbling around the edges, about 45 minutes.
Serve warm with whipped cream of vanilla ice cream.
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