Monday, May 11, 2009

Raw Rhubarb

Friday afternoon I was running late (what else is new?), throwing together a rhubarb compote while a cake baked. I forgot that earlier in the morning I'd also started a raw rhubarb compote. In fact, I forgot about it all the way 'til Sunday evening, when my mother asked how it turned out.

The recipe came from a new book, Rustic Fruit Desserts by Julie Richardson of Portland's Baker and Spice, and Cory Schreiber. Organized seasonally, the book is full of recipes for grunts, buckles, and bettys (or is that betties?). And it has 9 rhubarb recipes!

This afternoon I finally tasted the raw rhubarb compote. How interesting. After sitting for 3 days (the first day at room temperature, and then tucked into the refrigerator), the rhubarb takes on enough sweetness to temper its acidity, but somehow still keeps its crunch. The flavor seemed different than a cooked compote: maybe slightly more herby? And with each bite, the last taste reminded me of blackberries. I always like to be reminded of blackberries.

Incidentally, I'm always a little intrigued by Plexiglas book holders to protect your cookbooks. And by the people who carefully cover the page they're working from with a piece of plastic wrap. I'm on the side of using a cookbook to death. For one thing, if you're not very good about noting which recipes you've tried and liked, an oil spatter does just as well. And if you splash liquids about while cooking, the pages become pleasantly wrinkled, falling open to the pages you've used the most. Or where you were the biggest slob.

As you can see, there's no honeymoon period for books in my kitchen. Here's Rustic Fruit Desserts, after one use. Squeezing oranges can be messy:

Raw Rhubarb Compote
from Julie Richardson's Rustic Fruit Desserts

2 1/4 pounds rhubarb (about 1-1/2 pounds prepped)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1/2 orange)

  • Trim leaves and ends of rhubarb, and de-string it
  • Dice the rhubarb into 1/4-inch pieces (cut into strips, then cut crosswise
  • Put rhubarb into a bowl, add sugar and juice, and stir to combine
  • Cover and let sit at room temperature at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, the compote will keep for up to 3 days.

Note: As you perhaps can tell from the photo, I am a shoddy dicer, and my pieces are more like 1/4 by 5/8 inch pieces. I recommend you chop neatly and properly. I would if I could. Also, as noted, I ate it 3 days old, and it seemed fine to me! We'll see how it is tomorrow. If you don't hear from me....

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Diane in Oregon said...

Hmm, I may try this with my next picking of rhubarb, although we liked the Strawberry Rhubarb pie I made last week well enough to have again. It's probably a good thing I don't have MORE rhubarb! Still, I think I need to check out that book - sounds really useful!


Thérèse said...

That sounds great...must try.

Anmiryam said...

I'm there on the mess and using cookbooks to death. How can you know if a cookbook is any good unless your/your friend's/your mother's copy has a spine that isn't falling apart?

Laura said...

That's sort of fascinating...I would never in a million years have considered eating rhubarb raw. But you've inspired me to try it! I totally agree with you on the cookbook thing, mine are all a total mess, but my great grandchildren will know with total certainty what it is I loved to cook.

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