Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Strawberries & Rhubarb

Rhubarb has a fairly short growing season in New England, and it happens to be now. This is also a great time to get fresh strawberries, which may be one reason why the strawberry-rhubarb combination is such a classic. It's also quite delicious.

My parents like to end meals with a chilled strawberry-rhubarb compote, which is very refreshing. Their formula: Combine strawberries, rhubarb, water, and sugar in a saucepan, simmer, and continue adjusting ingredients until it tastes good. (If you prefer a bit more precision, start with this recipe and adjust to taste.) Rhubarb is quite tart, so you will need a fairly high proportion of sugar, but bear in mind that cooked berries become significantly sweeter as they cool.

When I have guests, I like to show off a bit with a strawberry rhubarb crisp, served warm and topped with vanilla ice cream or a parve substitute. I use a modified version of a recipe in the New Moosewood Cookbook:
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
2 pounds rhubarb, cut into bite-size pieces
2 pints strawberries, sliced
1/3-1/2 cup granulated sugar*
1 1/2 cups (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
a dash each allspice and nutmeg (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup whole wheat flour mixed with 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (or 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour)
2 cups rolled oats
real or parve vanilla ice cream (not optional!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.

Combine rhubarb, strawberries, and sugar in an 11 x 13 inch baking pan.

Place the butter or margarine in a large, microwave safe bowl and microwave 1 minute or until melted. (Alternatively, melt in a saucepan over low heat, then transfer to a large bowl.)

Add brown sugar and spices to the warm butter and mix until well blended. Gradually mix in flour, then oats. (Toward the end, it will be easiest to use your hands.)

Distribute oat mixture evenly over fruit. Bits of fruit will peek out from under the topping.

Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until fruit has begun to bubble. Allow to cool slightly. Serve in bowls, topped with ice cream.

*Made with 1/3 cup sugar, the crisp is quite tart.
(Cross-posted to Kosherblog)