Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Vegetable That Tastes Like Dessert - Rhubarb Tart

I suppose that it’s serendipitous I didn't have time to make my tart with the Pâte Sucrée last night. You see, tomorrow, June 17th, is “Eat Your Vegetables Day”. So in honor of this most pious of holidays. I present a way for you to eat your vegetables and have your dessert too.

That’s right folks! I am speaking of the deliciously wholesome goodness of Rhubarb Pie. I don’t care what the Supreme Court of these United States says, it IS a vegetable. Fruit import taxes be damned! (cause you know that’s the only reason they classified it that way).

Rhubarb is in the same family as Sorrel and Buckwheat. Its rhizomes are harvested for medicinal purposes such as the drug “Rhuem”. Some varieties are high in Anthocyanins, which not only attributes the red color to the petiole (stems) but increases their antioxidant activity. Basically, it's good for ya, just like all veggies. Eating it regularly can help reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure, as well as guard against cancer and reduce the effects of acid reflux. Heck, even the leaves, though not edible, can be used to make an anti-aphid spray for your garden.

Rhubarb just ROCKS!!

OK, About this lovely vegetable pie.....
Orange and Honey are the key to great tasting Rhubarb Pie, especially "Strawberry" Rhubarb.... That's the red rhubarb, known as Crimson Queen. This particular varietal is much sweeter than the "Pink" or Green variety (Victoria).

When sweetened, Crimson Queen Rhubarb has a strawberry-ish flavor. The honey adds a depth that sugar cannot duplicate and orange enhances its inherent "strawberry-esqueness", just like the Cinnamon with the Montmorency Cherries, so does Orange assist Red Rhubarb in living up to it's full potential.

Sadly, it was way too late to go to the store, when I found I was out of honey... Thus I have substituted sugar, at least for the first part, enhanced with some Orange Blossom water... I know it's not a normal kitchen ingredient, but I use it for Baklava so I usually have it around. In a pinch, a tablespoon of Cointreau or Triple Sec will work just as well. I do not recommend Gran Marnier for this application. (this will be the ONLY time you will hear, or rather read, me say/type that statement -Cause I LOVE that stuff) But Gran Marnier is based on the bitter Seville orange, thus it will enhance the bitterness of the rhubarb, unlike a sweet orange liquor such as Cointreau (Bitter & Sweet Orange) or Triple Sec (Sweet Orange).

While this is actually a family pie recipe which normally uses Pâte Brisée, I have chosen to re-vamp it in a Linzer Torte fashion, thus I am utilizing Pâte Sucrée, a tart pan and will be making a lattice topping. Basically I rewrote the recipe as I was going, so it doesn't follow the standard format... It's more along the lines of my thought process, so it might be a little confusing... Sorry...

Oh, and lemme go on records as saying, I understand why Pâte Sucrée is used for open faced tarts now... The dough is SO incredibly delicate that is disintegrates from the heat of your hands. It woudl have been fine if I was making a double crust pie, but the lattice was almost impossible to do.

Rhubarb pie is very much a matter of taste. There are sour pusses, like me, and sweet toothed individuals; so on this one, tasting is very important to get your "Ultimate Veggie Fix" right.

"Strawberry" Rhubarb Pie
 (without actual Strawberries)

4 cups of chopped Rhubarb (The red stuff)
1/4 cup Orange Blossom Honey or 1/2 cup Sugar and 1 TB Orange Blossom Water

24 Hours in advance, place Strawberry Rhubarb in a stainless bowl and drizzle with honey or sprinkle with sugar and orange blossom water.

Toss to coat.

Cover with plastic and place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours, preferably 24.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Next Day~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Remove and drain the juice into a sauce pan.

(with fresh, you will get about 3/4 cup juice; if previously frozen, you will get a little over 1 cup)

To this add:
1/4 - 1/2 cup Orange Blossom honey (your going to have to judge how tart you want it - I like it REALLY tart)

1 TB Arrowroot or Cornstarch per 1/4 cup of juice

2 tsp Fresh Orange zest or 1 tsp Orange oil or 1 TB Cointreau

I decided to be crazy and add a couple grinds of black pepper too... Hey, what the heck.

Cook over medium heat in a medium saucepan, whisking constantly, until thick, clear and bubbly.

Remove from heat and fold in the Rhubarb and 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter. (if you are using fresh rhubarb, return to the heat for 3 minutes)

Let cool while preparing the pastry crust. (this is important, if it's too hot, the butter in your crust will melt.)

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees
Warm your Pâte Sucrée on the counter for 5 minutes;
Divide in two and roll out the first half to fit an 11-inch tart pan, leaving the overhang intact.

Roll out the second ball, utilizing a pasty cutter, cut into strips for a lattice top.

Pour filling into waiting shell and lay out a lattice.

(It was impossible to actually weave; the dough is very delicate - thus the shattered remnants of broken dough strips)

Edge the inside with a dough "snake" pressed against the inside rim to hold everything together.

Place a sheet of tin foil on the bottom of your stove. (Because Rhubarb pie ALWAYS stews over a little bit)

Bake for 25 minutes.

Cool on wire rack and serve with Rummed, Brandied or Bourboned stabilized whipped cream.
OR - My personal favorite.... Add a little bit of ground cloves... Just a pinch... The eugenol in the cloves will denature the proteins in the whipping cream and stabilize it without using gelatin.

Sprinkle with a little nutmeg or mace.

Now, EAT YOUR VEGGIES!!!! Come on, you KNOW you want to.



Ciao Chow Linda said...

I'd eat that for breakfast, lunch and dinner. looks great.

Spryte said...

I have never tried rhubarb! That looks beautiful!

Bob said...

Weird, me and my girlfriend were just talking about rhubarb last night. I've never had it before. It sure looks good though!

Heather S-G said...

You are on a roll! This sounds amazing. I've yet to make a rhubarb pie this season...I better hurry!

Patti T. said...

If it wasn't raining so hard I would go out there and pick some rhubarb right now! This looks amazing. I love your additions also. Mmmmmmm.

Unknown said...

Cointreau! Now you're talking! Maybe I need to learn to like rhubarb! :) everything looks so beautiful

SansSanity said...

OMG, I was just telling a friend how Strawberry Rhubarb is a kind of rhubarb and REAL "Strawberry Rhubarb Pie" does NOT have strawberries! (I was chanelling my inner Shane)