Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rhubarb Shortcake

Rhubarb is a fruit (deemed so in 1947 by court decree, although it is botanically a vegetable) that many people don't know much about.  It is very high in fiber and contains substances that "aid digestion" and you all know what that means!  It's very low in calories, but you do have to sweeten the dawg out of it so it's not exactly a diet food.
My Mom and Dad loved rhubarb, and so do I.  They liked theirs stewed and had it in the morning with breakfast.  However, if you have ever seen a bowl of boiled rhubarb, you will readily understand why this isn't my favorite way to serve it.

I like to roast my rhubarb and serve it with cake or shortcake.  And this is NOT with strawberries.  Talk about gilding the lily!
I also like to make rhubarb crisp which is just like any other crisp.   But for today,  here is how to make Rhubarb Shortcake.

Try to buy thin stalks of rhubarb, about the size of very big celery.  You might have to make do with giant stalks, but the thinner the better.  Don't worry if they aren't all bright red. They are usually available here in May through the summer.  Sometimes I have to pester the produce man to order it for me.

Get about 6-8 stalks of rhubarb and wash it,  and if it's big, run a knife down the stalk and cut it in two.  Then cut it into pieces about 1 inch long.  More or less.
Put it into a bowl with about a cup of sugar, and toss it around until the pieces are coated.
Spread it out over a sheet pan. 
Put it in a hot oven (400)  for 20-30 minutes.  Some of the sugar will be browned and the rhubarb will be tender.
With a spatula scrape it off the foil into a bowl and give it a taste. Be sure to get all the juice!  If it's too sour, add more sugar and toss gently.   That's all there is to it.

Here's my recipe for shortcake:
2C. SR flour
1/4 C. sugar
1 good pinch of salt
1 stick of softened butter
1/4 brick of softened creamed cheese (optional)
1C. milk
Mix the dry ingredients.  Cut in the butter and cream cheese.  You can leave some large chunks.
Add milk, stir and form into a ball.
Flatten the ball into a greased pie plate, or shape into individual biscuits.
Cook at 350 for 30 minutes.
Slice the pieces horizontally in half before serving.

You are also going to need some whipped cream, creme fraiche, or ice cream. 
Then assemble your rhubarb and shortcake in layers: shortcake, rhubarb, cream, shortcake, rhubarb, cream and mint if you have some.
Oh, yes.  This is much better than a bowl of stewed rhubarb, don't you think?

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