Please note: Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer. The Orthodox Union makes no endorsements or representations regarding kashrut certification of various products/vendors referred to in her articles, blog or web site.
Once upon a time there was a little girl who thought that the funny red-colored celery looking stuff in the refrigerator would be a great addition to a salad. Said seven-year-old was given the important task of helping her mom put together Shabbat dinner and, wanting to make a splash, she threw in everything that she could find in the fridge. While the hard cooked eggs and olives were a hit, the raw rhubarb, not so much.
Fast-forward a decade or five and said little girl still likes to put rhubarb in whatever dish she can when she has the opportunity…but never again in a salad.
Before we go any further with our foray into all things rhubarb you need to know one very important fact about the rhubarb plant. As delicious as the stalks are, the roots and leaves are full of oxalic acid (toxic) which will make you sick if you eat them. For this reason, the fresh stuff (March through October is prime fresh rhubarb time) is usually sold with most if not all the leaves and roots cut off. Throughout the winter I make do with the frozen stuff; you just need to defrost it and you’re good to go.
You should look for bright red stalks and deep green leaves (if the leaves are still on). Much like celery, you’ll want to remove the fibrous strings. I like using a paring knife or a carrot peeler. Rhubarb is a good source of fiber and contains vitamin C and calcium. If you get one pound of fresh rhubarb you’ll end up with about two cups of cooked rhubarb, so buy according to what you need. One last note: Rhubarb is a TART vegetable that acts like a fruit so just be prepared to add a sizable amount of sugar to whatever recipe you choose.
Cooking Tip: Rhubarb is acidic so I recommend that you don’t use aluminum pots or pans when cooking with it.
RHUBARB MUFFINS (dairy or pareve)
1/4 cup oil or melted butter
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk or non-dairy substitute
1 1/2 cups diced rhubarb
1/2 cups chopped pecans
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 tablespoon melted margarine or butter
Topping: In a bowl combine the 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, nuts, 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and the melted margarine or butter. Set the mixture aside.
Preheat oven to 400. Grease (or use paper liners) 24 muffin cups and set the pan aside. In a large bowl combine the brown sugar, oil or butter, egg, and vanilla. Whisk to combine and add the buttermilk, rhubarb, and pecans. Mix to combine a set aside. In another bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the rhubarb mixture and mix JUST until the ingredients are combined; do not over mix. Fill the prepared muffin cup about 3/4 full with batter. Sprinkle the topping mixture over the muffins and bake 15 to 20 minutes.
From my files, source unknown.
RHUBARB AND BERRY COFFEE CAKE (dairy or pareve)
1/2 cup chopped rhubarb
1/2 cup chopped apples
1/2 cup each raspberry
1/2 cup blueberries
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup each butter or margarine, cubed
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream or pareve substitute
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease 9-inch spring form pan; line bottom with parchment or waxed paper. In a large bowl combine the rhubarb, apples, raspberries, blueberries and 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Mix to combine and set aside.
In another bowl combine the flour, 1/2 cup of the remaining sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Cut in the butter and lemon zest until crumbs form. In another bowl combine the eggs with yogurt (or other option) and whisk to combine. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and mix just to combine. Spoon half of the batter into prepared pan.
Spoon the fruit mixture over the top of the batter in the pan and then top with the remaining batter. Brush the top with the melted butter or margarine and then sprinkle the top with the remaining sugar. Bake on a cookie sheet for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until golden brown on top. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove side of pan and cool completely.
Modified from smartfoods.com.
RHUBARB AND CUSTARD CREAM BARS (dairy)
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup cold butter
2 cups sugar
7 tablespoons flour
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 eggs, beaten
5 cups finely chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb, thawed and drained
2 packages (3 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9X13 baking pan and set it aside. In a bowl, combine the 2 cups flour and 1/4 cup sugar. Cut in 1 cup of butter until you’ve got small crumbs. Press the crumb mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes.
While it’s baking combine the 2 cups of sugar and 7 tablespoons of flour in a bowl. Add the eggs and cream and whisk to combine. Add the rhubarb and mix to combine. Pour the mixture over the crust and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until custard is set. Cool completely.
While the bar is cooling combine the cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor. Mix to combine and then, by hand, fold in the whipped cream. When the custard is cool spread the whipped cream mixture over the custard, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Cut into smaller pieces as this is very rich.
From my files, source unknown.
RHUBARB AND BROWN SUGAR CHICKEN (meat)
6 to 8 chicken legs and thighs (not separated but skinned)
6 stalks of rhubarb, diced
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups of water
1/3 cup margarine
juice of one lemon
zest of one lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 to 1 tablespoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the rhubarb chunks, brown sugar, water, and margarine to a boil. Continue to boil until mixture is thickened. Remove from heat and squeeze the juice of one lemon into it. Let sit to cool.
Place the chicken in a roasting pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the oven and pour the rhubarb mixture over the chicken. Sprinkle the tops of the chicken with cinnamon and nutmeg. Continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
Modified from about.com.
PEAR BERRY AND RHUBARB TART
A two-piece tart pan or a spring form pan works best. However, you can use a 10-inch cake pan lined with parchment paper hanging over the sides.
1 1/3 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
4 firm Red D’Anjou pears — peeled, cored, and sliced
4 stalks fresh rhubarb — washed, trimmed and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
2/3 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons orange zest
10-15 fresh or partially thawed whole raspberries for decoration
Crust: Preheat the oven to 400 . In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and margarine. Mix to combine. If it’s too sticky add a little more flour. If it gets too dry, add a little water. Once at the desired consistency, transfer to a lightly floured surface and roll out with a rolling pin until about 1/4-inch thickness. Carefully transfer it to the tart pan (or parchment lined caked pan) and press it into the bottom and sides (grooves) of the pan. Trim any excess from the top. Lightly prick the bottom of the crust. Bake for 8 to10 minutes or until the crust is set.
Filling: Reduce the oven heat to 350. In a bowl combine the pears, rhubarb, sugar and cinnamon and mix well. Carefully arrange the fruit into the crust. You can layer the fruit above the edge of the crust. The fruit will cook down. After you set your fruit sprinkle the orange zest over the top of the then dot with raspberries for decoration.
Bake for approximately 50 minutes on the center shelf, or until pears are cooked through. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before removing from the pan.
Modified from a recipe from epicurious.com.
Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer who was born and raised in the Chicago area. She graduated from Indiana University and the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. She lectures on various food-related topics across the U.S. and Canada and writes weekly columns for the Chicago Jewish News, kosher.com and the OU Shabbat Shalom Website. She is the author of the Perfectly Pareve Cookbook (Feldheim) and is a contributing writer for the Chicken Soup for the Soul Book Group, Chicago Sun Times, Detroit Free Press and Woman’s World Magazine. You can visit Eileen’s blog by clicking: Cuisine by Eileen.