Monday, May 28, 2007

farmers market: 05.19 & 5.26

Our CSA share starts in late June, so until then I've decided to go to the Green City Market for fresh produce. Last week I went around 9am and it was packed with people, kids and dogs and there were long lines around some stalls, especially the ones with baked goods. There is a crepe stand (!!) and a panini stand, in addition to people selling honey, milk, cheese and lots and lots of vegetables. Fruit hasn't come into season here yet, so there's lots of asparagus and rhubarb. Yes, rhubarb. And it's a vegetable.

I've never really had rhubarb - I tried a rhubarb and mixed berry pie once, but it tasted more berry than anything else. I had never cooked with it and always just passed it by when I saw it in the store. How things have changed! It all started when to celebrate my completion of the MCAT, Anthony and I went to Green Zebra. Possibly the best thing we had was rhubarb ginger ale - it blew me away. There was also rhubarb in one of my favorite dishes - a roasted beet panna cotta w/pecans and rhubarb. (There are pictures of what we ate here. I didn't post that, but this is what we had: Fresh Buratta Cheese, meyer lemon gelee, grilled onion relish; Roasted Beet Panna Cotta, pecans, rhubarb and puff pastry; Crisp Chickpea Pancake, pinenuts, basil and marinated black radish; Blue Cheese Beignets, whole roasted pear, bearnaise, port wine; Spiced Eggplant Dumplings, baby carrots, coconut, lemongrass; Prospera Farms Chicken Egg, smoked potato puree, parsley and country sourdough; Parmesan Gnocchi, ramps, english peas, morel mushrooms). I've been thinking about rhubarb ever since, so when I saw it at the market last week and again this week I snatched some up.

It seems like most rhubarb recipes are for pies or crumbles, so that was my first attempt. I chopped up some rhubarb, tossed in some frozen mixed berries, the rind of 1/2 an orange and about 1/2 cup of sugar, and heated it until soft. I poured it out into a pie dish and topped it with some crumble mixture (just flour, sugar and butter pulsed in a food processor) and baked it until brown on top. Delicious. I found myself ignoring the topping and eating the rhubarb, so I decided that this week I'd do something slightly different that focused more on the rhubarb itself - a simple rhubarb compote. The recipe for this is pretty similar to the crumble filling, and really versatile. I poured some over greek yogurt for dessert last night, and I am going to use the rest to make a rhubarb fool (by adapting this tried and true recipe).

Rhubarb Compote
8-9 large stalks of rhubarb (no leaves!), chopped
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup orange juice

1. place all the ingredients into a small or medium pot over medium heat
2. cook until the rhubarb is soft, stirring every few minutes

(That's it!)


Anna said...

Yes rhubarb! I need to give you my recipe for a rhubarb rice pudding--it is creamy and hearty and sweet and tangy and awesome.

tal said...

yes please! that sounds awesome!

Anna said...

Tal--Here is the recipe, it was one of the ones I tried when I was a recipe tester for the BBC Good Food Magazine. It's the heartiest dessert ever and I love it:

Rhubarb rice pots
SERVES 4 PREP 10 mins COOK 35 mins, plus chilling time
Easy Cannot be frozen
This heavenly-tasting dessert was given to me by my Norwegian friend, Liv. A few strawberries added to the rhubarb brings out their flavour and colour, though if you can’t get hold of any it will still be yummy.

85g/3oz short grain rice
50g/2oz caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp
600ml/1pt milk
1 vanilla pod, split
142ml carton whipping or double cream
300g/10oz new season forced rhubarb, cut into 2cm chunks
3-4 strawberries, halved, optional
3 tbsp golden caster sugar

1 Put the rice, sugar, milk and vanilla pod in a pan and bring slowly to the boil. Reduce the heat, partially cover and simmer for 30 mins, stirring occasionally until the rice is tender. Make sure you keep the heat low and the pan partially covered to avoid the milk boiling over. Tip into a bowl and leave to cool. Remove the vanilla pod. This can be rinsed, dried and tucked into a jar of sugar to impart its flavour.
2 Whip the cream until it just holds its shape, then fold into the rice. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
3 Put the rhubarb in a pan with the sugar, a tbsp water and the strawberries, if using. Heat gently, then cover and cook until the rhubarb is tender. Leave to cool.
4 To serve, spoon the rice into four dishes or glasses and spoon over the rhubarb.