WND – Fan girl squeeing

May 27, 2010

There’s a certain high pitched noise known generally as a fan girl squee It tends to accompany sightings of Robert Pattinson, NSYNC (if you’re feeling a little old school), or the Beatles (if you’re feeling really old school). To be scrupulously honest fan boys also squee it just tends to be at a lower register and is often accompanied by a recitation of the complete technical specs for the USS Enterprise. In my defense (although I think I managed to offend everyone equally just now) it’s not like I don’t have a favorite Star Trek series, have never been to ComiCon, or looked at Robert Downey Jr. and gone, ‘yeah he’s dreamy’.

Anyway. I’m too cynical to get swept away by the Twilight series and I find Robert Pattinson more entertaining than dreamy, so I reserve my fan girl squeeing for advance reader copies of YA novels (Monsters of Men is in my bag as I write!) and the first rhubarb of the season.

My roommate is somewhat bewildered by my excitement about rhubarb, but it is genuinely one of my favorite things about Spring, even more than asparagus – and I’m pretty damn excited about the first asparagus of the season. I like to cook rhubarb with a little bit of sugar and a bag of frozen berries and then have it over plain yogurt for lunch. I like it in pie. I like it in crumbles and in cupcakes and muffins and relishes and sauces. Pretty much anything you can do with rhubarb is going to excite me. The only quibble I have is that I think most recipes add far more sugar than is necessary. I like a bit of the sour bite of the rhubarb to come through, and given that it is technically a vegetable (although apparently in the US legally it’s a fruit) I think there are far too few savory applications for rhubarb that have been explored. And believe me, I’ve looked. Finding a rhubarb recipe that doesn’t call for several cups of sugar, or to be served over ice cream is challenging.

All that being true, rhubarb is a finicky thing to cook. There’s about a 2 minute window between soft enough to eat and disintegrated. There’s also a delicate balance between so tart it’s inedible and so much sugar it’s tooth achingly sweet. As it happens, I failed at both this week. What I wanted to make was a recipe for braised rhubarb in wine. Unfortunately I cut too much of the sugar and then overcooked it so it came out both a little too tart even for me, and mostly as mush rather than something that contained identifiable pieces of rhubarb. The sauce, on the other hand, was fantastic as might be expected from something that’s made of wine, sugar and vanilla. Rather than give up on the whole adventure – and because I really wanted rhubarb in some form or other – I mixed it into apple sauce to make rhubarb-apple sauce (note, this was only possible because I’d failed at making the braised rhubarb on Monday night and had a couple days to figure out how to rescue it).

Braised Sausages
Roasted Butternut Squash & Grapes
Braised Rhubarb Apple-Rhubarb Sauce

Sweet Potato Cupcakes

Braised Sausages
Huh, apparently the first time I made this I also wanted a rhubarb compote to go with it; at least I’m consistent.

Recipe previously given: If I Was Stranded on a Desert Island

Roasted Butternut Squash & Grapes

Recipe previously given: Cleaning Up the Fridge

Braised Rhubarb Apple-Rhubarb Sauce
(serves 4-6)

2 lb rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths
½ cup sugar
½ cup crisp white wine
1 vanilla bean, split
½ cinnamon stick

Set a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix the wine, sugar and vanilla in the bottom of a Dutch oven, or other deep oven-safe pot (I used a casserole dish). Add the rhubarb and stir to mix. Bake (uncovered) for about 20-30 minutes, or until very tender, giving the pot a gentle stir about midway through to ensure that the rhubarb cooks evenly.

Notes: Theoretically with the full amount of sugar (I only used 1/3 cup) and more attention paid to cooking time, this recipe will work as written but I don’t actually know that for sure.

To make the apple-rhubarb sauce I used about 1/3 cup of the leftover braising liquid as the base for my standard apple sauce recipe, and then after the apples had cooked down I mixed in some of the braised rhubarb to taste. I think it probably ended up being about 2/3 apple sauce : 1/3 braised rhubarb, but I wasn’t measuring exactly.

I’m trying to figure out how to achieve this without having to braise the rhubarb first (not because it’s hard, but because it’s another dirty pan to wash at the end of the meal). I think you could make the apple sauce and then added raw rhubarb (and some extra sugar) and cook to the desired consistency, but I’ll have to experiment before I’d be willing to commit to a recipe.

It’s possible I called Wilson Farms last Friday afternoon to see if the local asparagus had come in yet. It’s also possible I made very excited gestures at my desk when they said it had. I’m not saying this actually happened, just that it’s possible that it did.

Sweet Potato Cupcakes
I didn’t make them, so I can’t provide the recipe, although it came from the new Martha Stewart cupcake cookbook that was being handed around at Dinner last week like illicit porn. I can say they were super tasty, plus they were topped with piles of toasted marshmallows and praline and there’s just no bad there.


One comment

  1. […] Rhubarb This is the other rhubarb recipe I talked about a couple of weeks ago  – and unlike the braised rhubarb which required rescuing, […]

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