Want something sassy and hot pink for supper? In a word, rhubarb: rhubarb-thyme jam (like a chutney), and rhubarb pie. Preceded by a light and airy, easy-to-make souffle. Aaaah, springtime.
We never think to smell the rhubarb, it has way too much competition right about now, but we should. It’s a robust and gorgeous big-boned gal (thank you K.D. Lang) whose hot pink underpinnings are the fruit of delicious culinary offerings. Our backyard rhubarb matures on the early side, has been around maybe twenty-five years now and provides abundant, deliciously sour stalks through most of June. By then it’s lost its fresh demeanor and is decidedly less appealing. I can assure any Pacific Northwesterner – including much of the northern hemisphere – that you’ll find rhubarb at Farmers Markets, in backyards, and in grocery stores starting about now. Whatever Easter may mean for you, let it include something with rhubarb, which is resurrecting itself at this very moment.
I’m making a birthday rhubarb pie for Poppy today (recipe below). If you’re not into pie-making there’s this rhubarb-thyme jam that’s quick and delicious with a nib of cheese on a cracker, with lamb or pork. Plus, it’s sassy and hot pink. Something rhubarb, along with Alice Water’s goat cheese souffle. Happy Spring.
Rhubarb-Thyme Jam Recipe
Recipe created by Becky Selengut at Cornucopia.
Ingredients: 3 C rhubarb, medium dice from about 3 large stalks/ 1 T ginger, grated/ 1 stick cinnamon/ 1 T fresh thyme, chopped/ 10 grinds black pepper/ 1/2 t salt/ 1/3 C champagne vinegar/ 1/4 C honey, or more to taste/ 1 t lemon zest.
Directions: Put all ingredients into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, for about 30 minutes until thickened. Remove cinnamon stick and cool the jam in refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve with a selection of local cheese, lamb or pork.
Rhubarb Pie ‘Recipe’
An anecdotal recipe: Make a two-crust pie dough of your choice. I often use Alice Waters’ recipe, which you can find via this link – scroll to mid-page. For the rhubarb filling: Combine 5 – 6 C rhubarb, cut into approximately 1/2-inch chunks, 1 1/2 C sugar (can be a mix of white and brown sugars), 1/4 C flour for thickener, 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t cinnamon and 1 t lemon zest (both optional). Stir the rhubarb mixture together and let it stand while you roll out the dough. Put it all together, bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes (with a cookie sheet beneath for possible juice overflow), lower to 350 for another 35-50 minutes or until crust is browned and rhubarb is bubbling. Allow pie to cool at least partially, then enjoy a quintessential springtime dessert. Maybe wish somebody Happy Birthday.
Alice Water’s Goat Cheese Soufflé Recipe
From The Art of Simple Food. This recipe was quick and easy to follow, each batch was mixed and in the oven in under twenty minutes. I made the full recipe, then cut it in half, used various cheeses in addition to goat, added a pinch of this and that on a whim – it all worked. Make it local: Port Madison Farm goat cheese (email@example.com), Beecher’s Flagship cheddar, Mt Townsend Cirrus or Trailhead, Rogue River Blue, each was delicious; Stoney Plains Organic Farm eggs, Organic Valley milk.
Ingredients & Directions: Goat Cheese Soufflé, 4 servings
Soufflé Base: Melt 5 T butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat/Stir in and cook 3 T flour for 2 minutes/ Whisk in 1 C milk, little by little, whisking thoroughly between addition/ Season with salt, black pepper, a pinch of cayenne, 1 thyme sprig, leaves only/ Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes/ Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
Separate 4 eggs/ Stir the yolks into the cooled white sauce/ Add 4 ounces soft, mild goat cheese/ Stir in and taste for salt/ It should be ever so slightly too salty to make up for the unsalted whites, which will be added later/ Preheat the oven to 375ºF/ Butter 1-quart soufflé dish, or another baking dish such as a gratin dish, with 1 tablespoon soft butter.
Whip the egg whites into moist firm peaks/ Stir one third of the whites into the soufflé base/ Then gently fold the base into the rest of the egg whites, taking care not to deflate them/ Pour the mixture into the buttered dish and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until puffed and golden, but still soft in the center and jiggly when shaken gently.
Serve immediately and savor the beauty of a soufflé and its melting in your mouth.
Note: Fill baking dishes about ¾ full, bake large soufflés in a 375ºF oven for 35-40 minutes; bake individual smaller soufflés at 400ºF for 10 minutes. Resist the urge to peak while they bake.
I’m a little smitten over soufflé now that I’ve made these few. It took a long time for us to get together, but I think it’s going to work out. I happily share the infatuation.