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Saturday, April 07, 2012


Excellent Ingredient of the Week
Today's excellent ingredient of the week is Rhubarb. You can't eat it raw, it's too tart and fibrous, but cook it up often with strawberry and you have yourself quite a treat. Although the leaves are toxic, various parts of the plants have medicinal and culinary uses. The traditional Chinese pharmacopoeia features rhubarb as a laxative. In culinary use, fresh raw stalks are crisp (similar to celery) with a strong tart taste. Most commonly the plant's stalks are cooked with sugar and used in pies and other desserts. Rhubarb is usually considered to be a vegetable; however, in the United States, a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the United States as a fruit, it was to be counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties. It can also be diced and frozen so you can use it all through the year. Great in upside-down cake for a change. Here are two great easy recipes to try:

Norwegian cold rhubarb soup with mint

4 stalks of rhubarb
1/2 a stick of vanilla
1 pt of water
6 oz sugar
5 sprigs of mint
1 lemon

Take the leaves off the mint sprigs. Peel the rhubarb and cut it into thin slices. Put the rhubarb peel in a saucepan with the water, sugar, stick of vanilla, the juice of the lemon and the now-leafless mint stems, let it simmer for 10 minutes. Sieve the liquid and add the rhubarb slices. Bring it to the boil, take off the heat and leave to cool. Cut the mint leaves into thin strips. Serve the soup ice cold with the chopped mint leaves on top. Serves 8.

Oatmeal-Rhubarb Bars

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup oatmeal, uncooked
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup Water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups rhubarb

Mix flour, oatmeal, brown sugar and butter until crumbly. Press half into greased 9"x9" pan. Add rhubarb, cut in 1/2" pieces. Combine sugar, cornstarch, water and vanilla; cook till thick and clear. Pour sauce over rhubarb. Top with other half of the crumb mixture. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.