Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rhubarb Oat Squares, Sparkling Rhubarb-Ginger Lemonade and other Rhubarb Delights

Rhubarb-Ginger Oat Square...half eaten. They were really good.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I had cravings for asparagus in early spring, or all of spring because it was so slow to appear at the market this year and then so quick to disappear once it got there. On all of those mornings when I woke up before most reasonable people get up on a Saturday morning, I would console myself by buying rhubarb. Those magenta stalks were a poor replacement for the asparagus I was dreaming about all the previous night, but they sufficed as an edible sign that spring had actually, finally come. That said, I probably wasn't as excited to see rhubarb on the CSA distribution list as I would have normally been. At one point this spring D commented, "Wow, rhubarb goes in everything."

Rhubarb really did go in everything. I made the rhubarb tarts from Good to the Grain (a version of those can be found here). I made Urid Dal with Rhubarb from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I made the Flat Omelet with Rhubarb from the same cookbook (probably not my favorite thing ever, but interesting). I made crumb-topped rhubarb muffins. Emily, my canning buddy, and I even made Rhubarb Orange Chutney from Ashley English's Canning and Preserving, so that in the winter, when I was finally craving rhubarb again, I could have some. We also pickled asparagus that day. One of the few days all spring when both were available at the market. Now I'll have both things when those insatiable spring vegetable cravings start, which is generally December. Look at me, planning ahead again. Way ahead.

So, maybe--though come February when it's cold and windy and snowing and dark and I am pleading with the heavens to send some sunshine and asparagus and rhubarb, I will deny I ever said this--I might have been a little tired of rhubarb. Then I stumbled across a recipe for rhubarb-ginger syrup. I knew that this recipe and I were going to be good friends. The syrup was not overly sweet, with the nice rhubarb tang and a bit of kick from the ginger (which of course, I added more of than the original recipe called for). The possibilities for playing with this recipe up are amazing--add a couple of cardamom pods while you simmer the rhubarb and ginger for a spicy-sweet syrup, add strawberries to it for a strawberry-rhubarb-ginger syrup (and perhaps make strawberry-rhubarb margaritas like they had at Counter in the spring?). You can use it to flavor seltzer or even a sparkling white wine. But what was left over from the syrup was even better--a gorgeous, pink, gingery rhubarb pulp that I have used in several different ways since first making the recipe.

Simmering away

Rhubarb Ginger Syrup
Adapted from a recipe from Cheryl Paff

2 c chopped rhubarb (this is a little less than a pound)
1 c water
1 c sugar
4 slices fresh ginger
1 t grated fresh ginger
the zest of 1/2 a lemon

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat until rhubarb is soft and falling apart (about 15 minutes). Strain into a small jar, pressing the rhubarb and ginger to release the juices. Reserve the pulp.

After you do this you can turn the syrup into...

Sparkling Rhubarb-Ginger Lemonade

1 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 c rhubarb-ginger syrup
2 c water
sparkling water

Combine lemon juice, syrup and water. Stir and refrigerate. When ready to serve, pour over ice and add sparkling water or seltzer in a 1:1 ratio. This makes a lemonade that is slightly on the tart side. If you like your lemonade sweeter, increase the rhubarb-ginger syrup or add a bit of plain simple syrup.

Now that you've made that and the pulp has cooled you can make...

Rhubarb Ginger Oat Squares
Rhubarb-Ginger Oat Squares
Adapted from a recipe from Cheryl Paff

The reserved pulp from recipe for Rhubarb-Ginger Syrup (see above)
1/2 c apf
1/2 c spelt flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 c light brown sugar
scant 1/4 t ground ginger
a pinch of salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into small chunks
1 c rolled oats
1/2 c chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8x8 baking pan.

Put flours, baking soda, brown sugar, ginger, salt and butter into a food processor. Pulse until the mixture has a crumbly texture (like pebbles in sand). Add to the oats and walnuts. Stir.

Press 3/4 of the mixture in the prepared baking pan. Top with rhubarb pulp. Place remaining oat mixture on top of the rhubarb. Press down lightly.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.

Or, if baking is not your thing, try these popsicles...

Rhubarb-Ginger Yogurt Pops
Adapted from Supernatural Cooking and inspired by the good people at People's Pops (thanks for ALWAYS being at Brooklyn Flea on Saturdays!)

pulp from 1/2 a recipe for rhubarb-ginger syrup (see above)
about 1 c naturally sweetened vanilla yogurt
1-2 T rhubarb ginger syrup
Special equipment: posicle molds

Stir together yogurt and rhubarb pulp. Taste. Add syrup 1 T at a time until you're reached your desired level of sweetness. Spoon into popsicle molds and freeze. (Makes about 4 popsicles). Use any leftovers as a topping for pancakes or just eat with some granola.

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