| Wednesday, August 7, 2013 |
Rhubarb in August:
I love rhubarb; it’s such an old fashioned vegetable. It’s a
true sign that spring has sprung. August,
however, is not exactly rhubarb season.
Actually, I missed rhubarb completely this spring. My best intentions failed to bring a few of
its tart stocks home to cook or just eat raw, dipped in sugar (I know an adult
shouldn’t admit to eating rhubarb this way...)
I’ve been renting a day-table for ReginaSpices from the
Public Market House on Wednesdays to sample and sell spices during Portland’s
large and active Farmer’s Market. As
I glanced over at the farmer’s stand across the aisle I saw--rhubarb! I was a little incredulous: "Rhubarb in
August?" I guess mature rhubarb is
better than a whole season without rhubarb, and I’m sure it had to be a second
or third-flush cutting. I sent Stephen
(the husband and roommate...not the blue's harpist in the photo) over to pick some up, I had the idea that I’d cut it
up and let people dip it in the Star Anise-Vanilla Sugar. When he brought it back it was clear to me
that it needed more peeling and cleaning than I could manage at my little table--so,
I thought: I’ll stew it in Star Anise-Vanilla Sugar when I get home.
Am I glad I did!
Since rhubarb is old fashioned I turned to our ever growing collection
of old cookbooks (pre-1930’s) and decided to go with Mrs. Beeton’s basic Syrup
for Compote (recipe #1512; from The Book
of Household Management, 1861). She instructs
1 ½ pints of water to every pound of sugar; boil it together for 15
minutes. She warns that if you cook
fruit in this syrup, be sure to eat it "immediately," as it will not keep. For
the amount of rhubarb I had (3 large stocks) I used 1 pint of water and ½ pound
of sugar (½ plain turbinado and ½ Star Anise-Vanilla Sugar). I’d cut the sugar
down next time I make it--that is, I’d cut the plain sugar and use the same
amount of flavored sugar.
If you are not using Star Anise-Vanilla Sugar use plain
sugar and add ½ vanilla bean and 2 star anise to the basic syrup and leave the
vanilla bean in throughout the cooking process, you might want to pull the star
anise out mid-way (do taste periodically, star anise can be powerful).
Rhubarb Compote with Star Anise- Vanilla Sugar: This is a
very loose recipe-feel free...
- 3 Stocks of rhubarb
- 1 pint of water
- ¼-½ cup turbinado sugar (or any regular, non-flavored sugar)
- ½ cup (1 jar) ReginaSpices Star Anise-Vanilla Sugar (including
the whole star anise)
- 2 TBL Butter
Clean and peel the rhubarb.
Cut into 1-2" pieces.
Boil water and sugar together for 15 mins. Add rhubarb.
Simmer 30 min-60 min (this will depend on the maturity of the rhubarb
you are using). After the rhubarb is
cooked add the butter.
vanilla ice cream, or with unsweetened fresh, heavy cream.