Friday, June 13, 2008

Rhubarb windfall...

We recently came into a windfall of tart rhubarb stalks thanks to the patch at Moms farm and one of Jeff's co-workers. We got so many stalks and since rhubarb freezes well, I've already prepared a bunch for the freezer. All I do is clean up the stalks, cut them into 1/2" to 1" chunks and throw them onto a baking sheet. They go into the freezer until the pieces are rock hard, then I transfer them to a zip-loc bag and in most recipes you wouldn't even need to thaw them! You could even blanch them if you are worried about any flavor-loss, but I don't think you really have to go that far.

I've already made a couple recipes with some of the remaining fresh rhubarb, but today I'll talk about the Rhubarb Crumb Cake I just made yesterday for Jeff to bring in for a surprise Friday the 13th Treat Day at his office!

The vanilla-scented batter for this cake was a breeze to prepare - to ensure the cake has a soft, tender quality to it, be sure to add the dry ingredients alternately with the tangy sour cream. You can use the mixer for this entire process, but I like to stop at the last flour addition and fold that in by hand. This will leave you with a thick, pale batter that spreads nicely into your baking pan.

One of the best parts of a crumb cake are those buttery sweet nuggets that are scattered over the top. We used a combination of granulated and brown sugar to give the crumbs some depth and tossed in a bit of cinnamon for flavor. You don't even need anything special to create the crumbs, just add the softened butter and use your fingers to mix the ingredients together. When combined, all you have to do is squeeze the mixture and it will stick together just enough to form uneven clumps. Just about half of this mixture is scattered on top of the prepared batter. To make the rhubarb shine, the pieces are first tossed with a bit of granulated sugar to temper the sourness before being placed into the pan. It may look like all of it won't fit since you are using a full three cups worth, but try your best to squeeze them all into a single layer. The rest of the crumb mixture is then scattered on top of the rhubarb.

Baking this cake can be a little tricky as it can be tough to tell when it has cooked enough - look for the crumbs on top to be golden and the top to be well risen. When you test for doneness, you'll be pushing the toothpick through the soft, moist rhubarb, but you should still be able to pick out if you have any raw batter left from the cake - just start checking around the 60 to 65 minute mark. Jeff and I thought this was quite the tasty cake - the thick rhubarb layer was a pleasant contrast to the moist and tender cake. I had to stop myself from picking the larger crumbs off the other pieces as I couldn't get enough... I wish I would have thought to make a little more of that mixture to add on top!

We were going to be having leftovers for dinner tonight, but I thought I would start us off with this Grilled Peaches over Spinach and Arugula with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto so we'd still be having a new dish.

The bed of this light salad was tender baby spinach and peppery arugula, very simply dressed with olive oil, salt and fresh ground black pepper. The wedges of fresh peaches were quickly grilled to give them a caramelized flavor and a showy finish - be sure not to leave these on too long, you want them to keep their firm texture and not turn mushy. Thin, salty strips of sliced prosciutto are then threaded through the tender greens, followed by crumbles of tangy goat cheese. What could push this flashy salad over-the-top? A bold mixture of reduced balsamic vinegar and sticky honey that creates a dark syrupy mixture to drizzle over the top. A quite light and refreshing salad that grabbed a hold of our attention the entire time. I thought the goat cheese worked well here, but feta might be nice way to play around with the flavors - you could also add the prosciutto to a skillet and crisp it up to give a bit of crunch for texture.


  1. I love your unique recipes. You must be a very creative cook. Grilled peaches are wonderful -- I wish my SO appreciated them as much as I do.

  2. The colors of the salad are really beautiful.

    I'm jealous of your rhubarb!

  3. Yummmmm...I love grilled fruit! Peaches, pineapple, bananas, nectarines, etc. So good!


  4. Judy - Thanks! We try to keep things varied around here.

    Emilie - I love rhubarb! I've got a good supply in the freezer now too.

    Courtney - Yeah!

  5. I will be making this salad this week! Yum. Grilled plums with goat cheese are a favorite and so I imagine this will become one as well, only with greens and protein to boot! Great blog!