Ah, rhubarb. Rhubarb is a fruit? vegetable? that I've always been skeptical of. It doesn't seem to be something that grows in California, or at least none of my family ever did anything with it. I've never liked strawberry-rhubarb pie, partially because I object to cooked strawberries. My host mother in Germany makes rhubarb meringue cake that I kind of like. But rhubarb just has that really tart, kind of strange flavor that I'm still not accustomed to.
But here it is, springtime in France, and my local farmstand has rhubarb for sale, and there's a recipe for rhubarb crumble in Maida's book. So I took a deep breath and went for it.
I only made a half recipe because I was skeptical, and because I could only get one bunch. But I accidentally messed up my sugar calculation and put too much in. I think that was a good thing.
This crumble comes together in about 15 minutes and includes lots of yummy ingredients designed (in my opinion) to tone down the rhubarb: rum, orange, butter...
And it comes out of the oven all brown and bubbly and syrupy. How can you resist?
Well, we didn't--the crumble was gone by the end of the night. I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm now a rhubarb convert and will be making this again and again, but I will say that this is one of the least objectionable ways possible to eat rhubarb and that I'm glad I made it. So thank you, Maida, for forcing me out of my comfort zone on this one.
Here's the recipe. Make it if you want a quick and seasonal springtime dessert.
(The recipe here is the original, for 8 portions. It can be easily halved for an 8-inch square dish for 4 portions.)
2 lbs. fresh rhubarb
Grated rind of 1 (organic) orange
1/3 c. (2.7 oz.) orange juice
3 T. (1.5 oz.) dark rum
2/3 c. (4.6 oz.) sugar (I used raw sugar)
1 c. (5 oz.) unsifted flour (I used about half whole-wheat)
1 t. cinnamon
1 c. (7 oz.) brown sugar
1/2 c. (4 oz.) butter, cold and cut into small pieces
Heat the oven to 350. Butter a shallow baking dish that will hold 8-9 cups.
Wash the rhubarb, trim off the leaves (poison!), and trim the tops and bottoms as you would celery. Cut the rhubarb into 1-inch chunks. Put them in the baking dish.
Sprinkle the orange rind, orange juice, rum, and sugar over the rhubarb; toss that well.
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, cinnamon, salt, and brown sugar. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or your fingers. Sprinkle that over the rhubarb. Wasn't that easy?
Bake for 40-45 minutes: the rhubarb should be tender, the juices should be bubbly, and the topping should be brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and remember: you're eating your vegetables.