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Rhubarb Orange Sauce

Last week, at a demonstration tasting for GE Aviation’s Wellness Fair, we gave out samples of one of my favorite springtime recipes – Rhubarb Orange Sauce – for its versatility, ease in making and sheer deliciousness.

Rhubarb, also called “pie fruit”, is a long living perennial and a welcome sign of spring in Vermont when the green and red stalks, topped by green, furled leaves, push their way through the soil. With a bit of rain and some warm-ish temperatures, a rhubarb patch will seemingly grow before your eyes.

I like to use oranges (or orange-like fruits) in early spring, because I usually have a few kicking around in the fridge after a long winter. It’s a great way to use up the last of these golden fruits and still enjoy rhubarb before the strawberry season which renders the equally delicious strawberry rhubarb sauce than many of us know and love.

A lip puckering tartness is tempered with sugar in most recipes. In ours, because I like the versatility of a slightly more tart sauce, I use less sugar than most recipes you will see online, and then finish the cooked sauce with a bit of dark maple syrup to lend a bit more subtle flavor.

Use stalks that are not too thick and fibrous, and if you can find the popular red stalks that will impart a lovely rosy color to your sauce, by all means, do so.

 

Without further ado, the recipe follows:

Simple Rhubarb Orange Sauce

2 cups rhubarb stalk, thickly sliced

1 orange or two clementines, chopped whole – peels and flesh – seeds discarded. Save any juice.

1/4 to 1/3 cup granulated white sugar

1/4 cup water

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons dark maple syrup to finish

In a quart pan, combine the chopped rhubarb and oranges, reserved orange juice, water, salt and 1/4 cup of sugar. Bring to a lively simmer over medium high heat, then reduce to medium low and simmer quietly on the stove until the rhubarb “melts” and turns soft. Stir occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and taste the sauce while still warm. Add a bit more sugar if needed, then stir in about 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. Cool and store in a jar or bowl with lid, in the refrigerator.

Makes approximately 2 1/2 cups.

Notes & Options: 

  • Substitute white sugar with 1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar.
  • Substitute maple syrup for honey.
  • Omit the oranges and instead use 1/2 cup of blueberries or 1/2 cup of strawberries, plus the juice and zest of 1/2 lemon.
  • Add a vanilla bean while simmering or a 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract after cooking.

Savory Uses:

  • Spoon on meats like pork, chicken, turkey or sausages.
  • Serve with aged cheese, soft and semi soft, with fresh bread.
  • Use as a base for barbecue sauce.

Sweet Uses:

  • Spread onto toast, English muffins or on a bagel with cream cheese.
  • A generous dollop on yogurt, oatmeal or ice cream is most welcome.
  • Stir into whipped cream and spoon on to a snacking cake like pound cake or angel food
  • Layer with pudding and leftover cake pieces for a springtime trifle.

WHAT ARE YOUR IDEAS?

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Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Apples often steal the crisp scene in the fall. But berry crisps as just as good and make for a quick, but impressive summer dessert any evening. And that’s especially true with this technique. Like the other strawberry and rhubarb recipes this week, I give you another cheat recipe. If you’ve already made your batch of compote earlier this week, you’re already good to go. In fact, this is a double cheat recipe, though no one is going to know the difference.

Since you already have your compote, that drastically reduces the cook time here and that’s the first cheat. Even if you need to make the compote when you go to make the crisp, it’s still going to take less time in the long run – so either way you’re beating the traditional crisp system. And, with a big batch of the compote, you know there is also this idea and this one to put it to good use.

The second big thing here, is that you use granola for your crisp’s topping. Yup, that’s right. And no one will know the difference. If you think about it, granola is very similar to the topping of a crisp, so why not take advantage of that fact?Of course, use a high quality (or homemade) variety that you enjoy. This isn’t supposed to be an inferior crisp imitation by any means, just a quicker approach to an equally good end product.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: 6

Try this granola cheat method with any kind of crisp.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the broiler to low.
  2. Make the compote, if you haven’t already.
  3. Spread the compote into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
  4. Cover with the granola.
  5. Put under the broiler for about 10 minutes until the granola starts to turn slightly brown and aromatic.
  6. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.
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Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

The pairing of strawberry and rhubarb is classic. The tartness of the rhubarb and the sweetness of the strawberries creates the perfect balance for many early summer dishes. This compote is the base for several varying uses that I’ll be posting on. A compote might sound fancy, but it’s simply fruit cooked down with sugar.

If you can get your hands on some local strawberries and rhubarb, do so and make this. Right now. Even if you don’t use it now, freeze it and you’ll have it ready to go. Neither fruit (though rhubarb is commonly used as a fruit, it is actually a vegetable – think celery) has a long season and you don’t want to miss out on all that you can do with this perfect pair.

Wash, hull and chop your strawberries.

Prep your rhubarb by rinsing and chopping into small, 1/2 inch pieces.

A few notes on rhubarb:

  • Look for bright colored, firm stalks.
  • Fresh rhubarb shouldn’t be stored for too long. If you’re not going to use it right away – freeze it. Chop into small pieces, blanch (cook for 2 minutes in boiling water then immediately cool in ice water), and freeze.
  • Older stalks may need a little peeling of their fibrous outer strings.
  • Rhubarb leaves are toxic! Don’t eat them!
  • Rhubarb contains a good amount of Vitamin C, Calcium, potassium and fiber.
  • I thought I didn’t like rhubarb until I recently gave it another chance, starting with this recipe.

Place the prepared strawberries and rhubarb in a pan over medium high heat. Within a few minutes they should release a large amount of juice. Add sugar, and flavorings of choice and continue cooking until the rhubarb is soft.

Give it a taste, add more sugar, if needed, and it’s ready to go. That’s all there is too it. The uses are infinite. You could use it to top:

  • A cake
  • Ice cream
  • Oatmeal
  • Yogurt
  • Pancakes or waffles

Or look for one of my suggested uses in future posts.

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. strawberries
  • 1 lb. rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup sugar, (more or less, if needed)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Additional flavorings such as vanilla and nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Rinse, hull and chop the strawberries. Reserve a handful.
  2. Chop the rhubarb into 1/2 inch pieces
  3. Add the strawberries, rhubarb, sugar and lemon zest to a large pan
  4. Cook, stirring, until juices are release 2-3 minutes.
  5. Simmer 5 minutes or so until rhubarb is tender.
  6. Add in reserved strawberries.
  7. Add flavorings, if desired.

 

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A Strawberry Rhubarb Beverage

While making the strawberry rhubarb compote recently, I thought I was pretty clever. For whichever use I had intended for the deliciously sweet fruit mixture – I’ve tried making it in so many ways recently, I’ve lost track – I found myself with way too much liquid. Both the strawberries and rhubarb give off a ton of their flavor this way when cooking. So I drained off the excess and thought – why not use it to sweeten a beverage? Because really, it’s pretty much a flavored simple syrup but with mostly natural fruit sugar.

I looked to my meager bar supply and thought gin would be a good pairing. And it was. I enjoy a good gin and tonic in the warm months and this addition was excellent. Though I wasn’t the only one with this thought. NPR just featured a rhubarb cocktail – except, to their error, without the strawberry aspect. Other sites offered similar ideas as well, but I didn’t see any where they were also utilizing the cooked fruit. As long as you’re not straining out every ounce of moisture from the compote – and how much you drain is dependent on your intended use – you’ve got yourself one great drink for nothing.  You can thank me later.

A Strawberry Rhubarb Beverage

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 1 serving

Skip the gin for a non-alcoholic, yet still delicious version. Or use fresh lemonade in place of the water.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces drained syrup from the Strawberry rhubarb compote
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 6 ounces tonic water or club soda
  • Lime quarters
  • Strawberries (for garnish)

Instructions

  1. In a tall glass, combine the syrup, gin and ice. Squeeze in some lime juice then stir everything together. Garnish with a strawberry.
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Strawberry Rhubarb Frozen Yogurt

If I had to pick just one of my slightly unhealthy food weaknesses to share with you, it would be ice cream.

I blame my grandfather. His freezer is stocked with at least two quarts of the stuff at all times. As a kid, I knew a cone would usually be involved in every visit. Though, unlike my grandfather, I enjoy actually all kinds of flavors – not just chocolate. And at some point, I convinced myself if I sometimes opted for frozen yogurt instead, it would actually be a healthy choice.

 In some cases perhaps that’s true. But much of the frozen yogurt in stores is still loaded with sugar, unfortunately. Even worse, most times it’s not even actually sugar, but high fructose corn syrup. Or, there are just a ton of undecipherable ingredients listed on the package, as is the case with most processed food. Try finding an ice cream or frozen yogurt made up of just the ingredients you’d expect (or want) to find. Good luck, because there are very few.

When summer comes, I’m much more apt to make my own. With fresh produce, it’s fun to make interesting combinations. One of my favorite is steeping mint leaves in my yogurt or cream then adding in chocolate. And more importantly, I know exactly what I’m eating.

When I moved out of my parents’ house I took with me this ice cream maker someone had gifted our family years ago. It remained largely unused but I insisted on saving it anyway. I really don’t like collecting appliances with just one use, but this one is the exception. I see them at yard sales all the time for a few bucks.

On the other hand, it’s not too difficult to make your own frozen confection without one. Pastry chef and cookbook author David Lebovitz outlines a stir and freeze method here and The Kitchn has additional idea here. It’s really pretty accessible. Just takes a bit of stirring or creativity.

This simple mix of yogurt and sweetener can be the frozen base for any combination of ingredients. Here, I fold in the strawberry rhubarb compote and it couldn’t be much simpler. Do you have a favorite kind of ice cream or frozen yogurt you like to make? Share your ideas.

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Frozen Yogurt

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 2 pints/1 quart

Use this sweetened yogurt base for your favorite frozen combinations.

Ingredients

  • 1 quart yogurt (keep in mind that the variety, fat content and style, such as Greek, will impact the end flavor. In other words, use what you already enjoy)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 batch of strawberry rhubarb compote

Instructions

  1. Make the strawberry rhubarb compote and let cool.
  2. Drain off some of the liquid from the compote and save for another use.
  3. In a bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar and honey. You can use more, less, or other sweeteners altogether if you’d like.
  4. Add the yogurt to the frozen drum of your maker – if using a maker – and let run for about 20-25 minutes, until thick. If not using, you might want to add the compote in at this point depending on the directions of your preferred method.
  5. When the yogurt is thickened, fold in the compote.
  6. Let freeze for as long as you like. If you want a soft serve and are going to be eating right away, you probably don’t need to freeze at all. For a harder consistency, transfer to a storage container and let freeze for at least an hour.

Notes

When storing homemade ice cream, it’s important to cover the top with plastic wrap in order to keep fresh – even when storing in a sealed container.

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Rhubarb Chutney

Fact: rhubarb is tart. Lie: In order to enjoy rhubarb we must overwhelm it with sweetness.

While the sweetness of ripe strawberries certainly pairs well with rhubarb, rhubarb can actually be a star all on its own. When I saw the first pink rhubarb stalks of the season a few weeks ago, local strawberries weren’t even ready for bubbling together in a pie. So I wondered what else I could do.

Looking back on other rhubarb recipes that I’ve previously shared, I wasn’t feeling good about the amount of sugar they contained. And I refuse to believe it is necessary. Then I remembered a rhubarb chutney recipe that Joann, our bookkeeper at RAFFL, shared a couple of years ago. Sadly, Joann will soon be leaving us and moving on, so I thought now was a good time to revisit her rhubarb chutney. Now I just need to figure out who will appreciate my sense of humor when she’s gone.

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Since I didn’t get a chance to make Joann’s chutney at the time of posting (it was winter), I was excited to give it a try this spring and find that I was right – rhubarb doesn’t need to rely only on sweetness to taste good. I made a few adjustments to her recipe, like adding in orange zest and juice and replacing the sugar with honey, and I liked the results.

In this chutney, the rhubarb is sliced into pieces and sauteed along with chopped red onion. Before long, the rhubarb starts to break down and release its juices while the onion becomes tender.

The chutney gets a good kick of flavor from ginger and garlic, one of my favorite seasoning combos. A splash of cider vinegar and honey help round it out. I think rhubarb does need some sweetness, but it shouldn’t be overpowering. I think the mildness of honey helps solve my over sweet rhubarb frustration.

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The result is part sauce, part condiment that can be paired with pork, fish and poultry or simply over toasted bread with melted cheese. But if you are looking for a sweet rhubarb idea, try this frozen yogurt or this compote.

 

Rhubarb Chutney

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 3 cups

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces rhubarb
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • splash of apple cider vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 orange

Instructions

  1. Wash and chop the rhubarb into half inch pieces. Roughly chop the onion.
  2. Heat a pan over medium high heat with a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the rhubarb and onion and let cook until rhubarb has softened and released its juices and the onion is tender. About 10 minutes.
  3. While that cooks, grate the ginger and mince the garlic. Add to the pan when ready to go.
  4. After 10 minutes of cooking, add the honey, vinegar and raisins. Taste and season with salt as you see fit. After 5 more minutes of simmering, add the zest and juice of the orange. Stir. Remove from heat and let cool to thicken.
photo courtesy of morguefile.com

Eat Your Freezer Clean! Week Two – Vegetables

Thank you for joining us on our second installment of the Eat Your Freezer Clean challenge! By treating our freezer like an organized and important tool in our kitchen, not only can we feed ourselves and loved ones with wholesome, nourishing meals, but we will save time, money and reduce waste.

It is (finally!) spring in the Upper Valley and the opening day of the season’s outdoor farmers’ market is weeks away.  While we wait in anticipation of all the good things that warmer weather will give us, let’s take a closer look at the vegetables you saved from last year; a teaser to the variety we can all look forward to in the summer and fall months.

Recipes abound on the internet on how to use your frozen vegetables, so below we gathered a few of our personal favorites and inspirations that are quick, easy and flexible.

 

CORN

  1. Quick and Easy Pan Roasted Side Dish– Choose a large skillet with a lid. Heat the skillet over medium heat, add a teaspoon or two of olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer (takes several seconds) and slips around easily in the pan, but isn’t smoking, throw in a cup or two of frozen corn and quickly stir to coat with oil. Cover the pan and shake the corn over the heat occasionally, letting the corn steam for a few minutes. Uncover and continue to stir while the corn softens, browns and slightly carmelizes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a pinch of red chili flakes. I like to drizzle a bit of maple syrup on top when eating as a side dish with savory meats.
  2. Use in Soups, Chilis and Stews – Add a cup of corn to a pot of simmering soup, chili or stew during the last few minutes of cooking. Top with any fresh herbs you might have on hand or might be getting leggy in the window, parsley or cilantro being two readily available favorites.
  3. Salad – Thaw frozen corn overnight in the refrigerator and drain in a colander. Because corn is blanched before frozen, it is just toothsome enough after thawing that it pairs wonderfully in a crisp salad. Try topping chopped romaine with black beans, thawed corn, your favorite salsa and chopped cilantro.

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Greens, Cooking

  1. Thaw, Drain, Dry – This method applies to all sorts of greens, but is especially useful with spinach as the leaves tend to retain a lot of moisture. Thaw your greens and drain in a colander. Using a clean dish towel with a tight weave, gather a large handful and wrap in the towel, twisting and squeezing out the water. OR just use your bare hands, as I tend to do because I hate to do more laundry than I need to. Or better yet, click on over to The Kitchn and give this ingenious tip a try, especially if you have a potato ricer gathering dust in your drawer.
  2. Green Smoothie – This works best with small frozen chunks, rather than large or thawed greens, but if you have ice cube sized frozen greens, try throwing a few in a blender with a bit of your favorite liquid (dairy or dairy-free milk, juice or even a bit of water), some fruit (I like to use frozen apples or fresh past their prime, frozen bananas or berries) and a tablespoon of nut butter. Give it a whirl, sweeten with honey or maple syrup if you need to and you have yourself a tasty, healthy treat!
  3. Use in Soups, Chilis and Stews – Throw frozen greens into a simmering pot either a two or three minutes or several minutes before (if they are LARGE chunks) your favorite ladle-friendly meal is done cooking. Easy, delicious, healthy. We like that.

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Potatoes

  1.  Casseroles – There is nothing tastier than a comforting, warm casserole on a cool spring day. Frozen potatoes can be thrown into any egg or potato based casserole of your choosing. For a nutritious and filling one dish meal, toss frozen potato cubes (or shred), frozen greens, frozen corn and fresh or frozen onions with a glug of olive oil, salt and pepper. Put in a casserole dish and pour on a bowl full of eggs beaten with a bit of flour and milk. Dollop with ricotta cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven until puffed and lightly brown or about 25 to 35 minutes depending on the size of your dish.
  2. Soups, Chilis and Stews – Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Frozen potato cubes can be thrown into any ladle-friendly meal about 15 minutes or so before it is finished simmering. You can also make a quick potato soup by covering two cups of frozen potatoes with your favorite salted/seasoned broth and simmering until tender and either pureeing for a silky bisque-like soup or keep it chunky and throw in other quick cooking veggies or leftover cooked meat.
  3. Get Ethnic! – Many cuisines use potatoes and two of my favorite are Indian curries and the delicious Spanish tortilla. Use care when cooking any frozen potatoes in oil and use the moisture they release to help cook them further by covering or partially covering the pan with a lid.

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Other Frozen Friends:

  1. Rhubarb – bake in a pie with strawberries or stew with sugar and water to make a sauce
  2. Tomatoes – chop frozen whole tomatoes with a sharp knife and add to ladle-friendly meals or cook with butter, garlic, pesto or dried herbs for a quick pasta sauce
  3. Zucchini – add to ladle-friendly meals or thaw, drain and dry like you would frozen greens and add to muffins, cake, bread or saute in bit of butter and chopped onions until tender for a delicious side dish.
  4. Peas – beside the usual steaming or throwing into macaroni and cheese, try making soup! Here is a link to my absolute favorite recipe for fresh pea soup. And it is JUST as delicious and beautiful if you do not puree it.
  5. Winter Squash – Boil until tender, mash with a fork or whisk and serve as a side dish with a touch of salt and butter. Also try it in pancakes, make a silky coconut milk bisque or substitute the sweet potato in this delicious southern recipe for cake.
  6. Mixed Veggies – Use for stir-fry, fried rice, ladle-friendly meals or bake into a vegetable lasagna or make pasta primavera. It is that easy.

 

Resources:

The Kitchn – How to Make Your Frozen Vegetables Suck a Little Less

Epicurious.com

New York Times Diner’s Journal

BBC Good Food

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Holiday Rhubarb Chutney

Rhubarb chutney is one of Joann’s, our administrative coordinator’s, favorite dishes to make this time of year for holiday gatherings. Although very much a spring crop, rhubarb can easily be frozen and ready to use at any time. Don’t know how to freeze rhubarb? Check out this step by step video.

Rhubarb has a very tart flavor that blends well with the sweetness of the sugar in this chutney. That’s why you’ll often see rhubarb paired with naturally sweet strawberries in pie. When cooked, the rhubarb releases juices and breaks down into its fibers. Eventually, as you continue to cook it down, it achieves a perfect jelly-like consistency.

Much like cranberry sauce/chutney, this rhubarb version goes great with poultry, on toast, or with cheese.

Rhubarb Chutney

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1/3 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
1/3 cup raisins, coarsely chopped (optional)
1/2 cup sugar
12 oz rhubarb, trimmed and cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion, garlic and ginger until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add wine and raisins. Return to heat and bring to a boil. Cook for one minute. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Stir in half the rhubarb and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until the rhubarb breaks down, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining rhubarb, raise heat and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until second batch of rhubarb just begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Let cool completely.

Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Rhubarb… Salad?

Yes!  Spring’s queen of tartness can be eaten in a main course.  Though Everyday Chef loves sweet and tart rhubarb desserts, we also love to explore new flavors–this Roasted Beet and Rhubarb Salad recipe from the Domestic Diva is surprisingly fresh and flavorful.

Roasted Beet and Rhubarb Salad with Orange Tarragon Dressing The Domestic Diva

 

For the dressing: 1 lemon, zested and juiced 1 orange, zested and juiced 1 tbsp tarragon, chopped finely 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar 1 pinch of nutmeg 1 tsp Dijon mustard ½ cup grapeseed, canola, or olive oil

salt and white pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients except oil in blender or food processor and pulse.  Slowly add oil, until dressing is thick. OR, place all ingredients in a glass jar with a lid and shake vigorously.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

For the salad: 1-2 lbs of beets. (red, chioggia or yellow) olive oil salt and pepper 1 pound rhubarb 1 cup of sugar in 2 quarts of boiling water

1 lb of your favorite spring greens:  arugula, spinach, mesclun mix, baby beet greens, etc.

Wash rhubarb and cut into small bite size bites. Wash beets, toss in oil with salt and pepper, wrap in aluminum foil and place in 400 degree oven until tender.  Remove from oven, allow to cool, and rub off skins. Slice beets into bite-size quarters and place in a bowl.  Place rhubarb in boiling water just long enough for rhubarb to become slightly tender—not mushy!  Add to beets.

Place greens in a bowl and toss with just enough dressing to coat.  Pour out on a platter and sprinkle warm rhubarb and beet mixture over the top and serve. Beets and rhubarb should be warm when placed on the greens.   Feta, blue cheese, and slivered almonds make wonderful additions.