Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Outstanding Rhubarb Cobbler

I love rhubarb and am so glad to have a few plants in my garden. A true harbinger of spring, it's the first to pop up in the spring and it offers endless possibilities. The smell of rhubarb calls to mind the pure joy a snack I didn't have to ask mom for. Ditto mulberries and concord grapes.

The rhubarb above was picked early and was still pencil thin and green. When I asked a farmer friend why my rhubarb never got very thick the answer was most likely over harvesting. Guilty as charged. Maybe it's the variety. I'll have to check but in the meantime, I'll have to work on that.

The rhubarb rite of spring began with a really wonderful gingered rhubarb chutney. What caught my eye about this recipe was the addition of balsamic vinegar. Perhaps needless to say, it's really not photo worthy since it's just brown. Regardless, it's really exceptional and was a great stand in for Major Grey's with curry.

For our monthly neighborhood get together in May, I decided to make a rhubarb cobbler from Outstanding In The Field by Jim Denevan. Remember him? This book thoroughly inspires me when it comes to the seasonal approach.

Sometimes baked fruit desserts tend to get watery and that equals lack of flavor and soggy topping. In this recipe the fruit is cooked before being put into the baking dish. The result? Flavorful fruit syrup surrounding tender baked fruit.

Pre-strawberry season, I decided to add the end of last year's local berries that I had frozen.

A buttermilk cobbler topping came together in moments.

Jake added a sprinkle of demerarra sugar for a bit of crunch and golden brown color.

Need I tell you how delicious it was?

The highest complement, an almost empty pan. The greatest relief, enough left for breakfast.

Rhubarb Cobbler
Outstanding in the Field by Jim Denevan
I added about a pint of strawberries to the mix and cooked it a bit longer to compensate for the extra liquid.

3# rhubarb
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 T. grated orange zest
3/4 cup buttermilk
4 T. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder

whipped cream for serving

Trim the rhubarb and cut crosswise on an angle into 1" pieces. Place the rhubarb in a medium saucepan with 1 1/4 cups of the sugar and the orange zest. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb is softened and has released it's liquid, about 20 minutes.

Position a rack in teh bottom third of the oven. Place a foil-lined bakins sheet underneath the oven rack that will hold the cobbler. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the rhubarb to a 2 quart baking dish with 2" high sides, or eight 10-12 oz. ramekins for individual cobblers. If using individual ramekins, arrange them on a baking sheet. Simmer the liquid remaining in the saucepan over medium heat until it is reduced by half and is thick and syrupy, about 10 minutes. Pour it over the rhubarb.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter and egg. In another bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the flour, baking powder, and sald. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and slowly stir until just incorporated. Do not overmix.

Spoon the batter over the rhubarb, covering the surface. Bake until golden brown and bubbling and a skdwer inserted into the topping comes out clean, 45-50 minutes for a large cobbler, 20-25 for individual cobblers.

Let rest for 10 miutes and serve warm with whipped cream.

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