Rhubarb rocks…

The first fruit of our growing season is not only versatile, it’s scrumptious!

With summer just around the corner we turn our minds to fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden and what better way to start than with rhubarb, the first harvested fruit of the year and one that is incredibly versatile. To someone like me, this is a time to be savored.

Here are two rhubarb delights that are easy to prepare. They can be enjoyed hot or cold, with fresh custard or ice cream or even with sweetened whipped cream.

Rhubard CrispRhubarb Crisp
Topping ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup oats
½ cup sugar
½ cup melted butter
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Filling ingredients:
4 cups diced rhubarb
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
½ teaspoon vanilla

Mix together the topping ingredients until the mix has the texture of bread crumbs. Press half the crumbs in a greased nine-inch square or round baking pan. Cover with the diced rhubarb. In a small saucepan combine sugar, cornstarch, water and vanilla. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar mixture is clear. Pour over rhubarb and top with the remaining crumb topping. Bake at 350 F for about 50 minutes.

Rhubarb and Strawberry pie

Rhubarb and Strawberry pie

Rhubarb pie
Pastry ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon fine sugar
¼ cup butter (room temperature)
¼ cup lard (room temperature)
1/3 cup water
1 beaten egg

Filling ingredients:
4 cups chopped rhubarb
1 1/3 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter

Pastry preparation
Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl, mixing thoroughly. Add the room temperature butter and lard and blend together using your fingers; mix well until it looks and feels like bread crumbs.

Add half of the water to the mixture, kneed together. Pinch the dough with your fingers; if it is too dry, add up to 2 tablespoons of ice water until the dough blends together.

Turn the dough out onto a cool work surface. Form the dough into two disks; then wrap each disk in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 1½ hours (up to 24 hours).

And now make the pie
Place the oven rack at the lowest level and pre-heat your oven to 425 F.

Remove one dough disk from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature (five minutes), and then roll the disk to approximately 12 inches, with a paper thin thickness. Work as quickly as you can, sprinkling a little bit of flour onto the surface and the top of the dough to prevent it from sticking. If the dough becomes too sticky or pliant, put back in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Place the rolled-out pastry into a nine-inch pie pan, easing it into the pan and pressing lightly. There should be excess pastry hanging over the rim of the pie plate. Combine sugar and flour. Sprinkle ¼ of it over the pastry in the pie plate and heap rhubarb on top. Sprinkle the remaining sugar and flour on top and dot with small pieces of butter. Brush the edges of the open pie with a light coating of milk. Roll out the remaining pastry as above and gently place it on top of the pie.

Seal the pie by crimping the edges. Then run a sharp knife around the plate and gently cut off any excess pastry.

Brush the top of the pie with a beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Place the pie on the bottom shelf of the oven and bake for 45 to 55 minutes. Keep a sharp eye on the pie after 35 minutes to ensure you do not over-bake the crust. When finished the pie should be golden brown.

Remove from the oven, let cool and … oo-la-la!

Originally  written by Ian Leatt for Lifestyes55 paper (http://lifestyles55.ca)

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