There’s nothing better than rhubarb in the spring. I love going to the garden and checking up on its progress. They start out from little clumps (that look like pink and green brains), then the leaves unfold and as it grows its edible magenta and yellow-green stalks. Have you ever wondered what a growing rhubarb plant sound like? Check out this bebop-a-rebop post by Keith.
I love pulling out the stalks, cutting off the leaf, splitting the stalk in half and then smelling it’s strawberry, lemony, and vegetal perfume. Sometimes, when the mood hits me, I’ll take a little bite and enjoy its delicious tartness right there in the garden. A much better way to enjoy them however is in a hot and bubbling crisp. Rhubarb goes really well with strawberries. I had some frozen that I picked at Bures Berry Patch last June. I even had some yellow raspberries I bought from Kathy at the end of summer. So I tossed everything together with some sugar and heated it lightly with a vanilla bean and Meyer lemon syrup I made this winter (with lemons from my friend Dunja in Florida).
- 1 c. strawberries
- 1 c. raspberries
- 2 c. rhubarb
- 2 1/2 c. sugar
- 2 T. meyer lemon syrup (substitute with zest from a whole lemon)
- 1 vanilla bean pod
Cut up everything so they are roughly the same size pieces. Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds out with the back of a knife then add into the fruit mix along with the peel. Heat gently with the sugar for about 10 minutes.
A Glorious Mix
After heating lightly to marry the flavors, prepare the crumble topping and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. I used my trusted American Cookery Book by James Beard for inspiration.
Crisp or Crumb Topping
- 1/2 c butter (one stick)
- 1 c. brown sugar
- 3/4 c. flour
- 3/4 c. oatmeal
Cut up the butter into cubes then work in the rest of the dry ingredients with your hands. The goal is to get a lot of different size pieces then top the fruit mixture with it. I fished out the vanilla bean pods and sliced some rhubarb to decorate the top.
If possible, use a gorgeous vessel to bake your treat like this coin-edged piece from Windy Ridge Pottery (a gift from cousin Laura & her husband Michael). Bake for about 40 minutes until bubbly and the crust is a golden brown. Let it cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Can you wait that long? If you cannot, serve right away in little bowls with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to cool it down.
The Scent of Rhubarb, Strawberries, Yellow Raspberries, Vanilla Bean, Lemon, & Butter
I believe you can always pretty something up a bit more so here it is with a few mint leaves. Voila!
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