rhubarb {two ways}

If you would have told me a few years ago that I would eagerly awaiting the arrival of rhubarb season, listening to one of my favorite bloggers discuss rhubarb, {aside-if you aren’t listening to Molly and Matthew you are really missing out, I love reading her Bon Appetit column even more now if that is even possible-end aside} and dreaming up ways to use the pounds and pounds I just have to buy at the market; I would have thought you were crazy. You see, a few years ago, I didn’t even know that rhubarb existed. I don’t know if it is my Texas hertiage or the lack of farmers’ markets in my past but I never had rhubarb until last year. However, for every season I will try to make up for the 24 rhubarb-less years of my past.
I started out slow last season with a crumble and then got a little more adventerous with some syrup for cocktails.  The problem with rhubarb season is that it never lasts long enough.  In fact, some of my favorite farmers are already hinting that this might be the last week!  Good thing I already made a batch of this rhubarb butter so that I can enjoy the sweet tang in the dead of winter.
Rhubarb-Orange Butter

I also made a batch of these truly amazing rhubarb tarts when we had over friends for one of the Stanley Cup games (Go Blackhawks!!).

Rhubarb Tarts

I have a quart bag of chopped up rhubarb tucked away in the freezer so I can make these tarts again soon. The recipe is another winner from Good to the Grain. I fall more in love with this book everyday. The tart pastry made with the corn flour had a complexity like no other tart I had ever tasted. I took Deb’s direction and made a rhubarb-vanilla compote rather than hibiscus as suggested in Good to the Grain simply because I have a fully supply of vanilla beans and the combo sounded divine.

Rhubarb Tarts

Rustic Rhubarb Tarts
Adapted from Good to the Grain and Smitten Kitchen

1 cup corn flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup fine cornmeal
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher or coarse salt
1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 egg yolks
1 batch Rhubarb Vanilla Compote (recipe below)

3 methods: I choose to do it by hand with a pastry blender
In a food processor: Combine the dry ingredients in the work bowl of your food processor. Add the butter and pulse in short bursts, until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add heavy cream and egg yolks and pulse until combined; it will look crumbly but it will become one mass when kneaded together.

In a stand mixer: Whisk the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, add the butter and turn the mixture speed to low (you’ll want to lock the top, so the mixture doesn’t fly about) and mix to break up the butter. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the butter is as coarse as cornmeal. Add the heavy cream and egg yolks and mix until combined. The dough will look crumbly but when pinched between your fingers, it will come together.

By hand: The butter can also be blended into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender, or you fingertips. The cream and egg yolks can be mixed into the butter mixture with a wooden spoon. You’ll likely want to turn the dough out onto a counter to gently knead it into one mass.

Shape the tarts: Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces. Lightly flour a work surface and using the heel of your hand, flatten the dough into a rough circle. Continue flattening until it is approximately 5 inches in diameter. Try to work quickly, so the dough doesn’t get too warm and soft, making it harder to handle. For more elegant edges, gently flatten the outer edge of the circle with your fingertips, making it thinner than the rest of the dough.

Spoon 3 tablespoons of the Rhubarb Vanilla Compote into the center of the dough. Fold the edge of the dough toward the compote and up, to create a ruffled edge; continue around the perimeter, letting the ruffles be their bad irregular selves. Slide a bench scraper or spatula under the tart and transfer it to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Continue with the remaining dough. Freeze the tarts on their tray for at least 1 hour or up to 2 weeks, wrapped tightly in plastic.

Bake the tarts: Preheat over to 375°F. Bake tarts, still frozen, for about 35 minutes or until the edges of the tarts are brown and the rhubarb is bubbling and thick. Serve warm or at room temperature. Well wrapped, they should keep for a couple of days but they are definitely the best on the first.

Rhubarb Vanilla Compote
Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 1/2 pounds rhubarb stalks
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Rinse the rhubarb stalks and trim the very ends. Cut any thick stalks half lengthwise and then all stalks on the diagonal into 3/4-inch chunks. Leaving the last 1 1/2 cups aside, put 3 cups of the rhubarb into a dutch oven or other large, heavy-bottomed pan. Add the brown sugar, vanilla bean seeds and pods and turn the heat to medium low. (You want to start at a low temperature to encourage the rhubarb to release its liquid. Unlike most compotes, this one adds no water.) Cook the rhubarb mixture, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until the mixture is saucy. Remove the cover and increase the heat to medium, cooking an additional 15 to 17 minutes, or until the rhubarb is completely broken down and thick enough that a spoon leaves a trail at the bottom of the pan. Discard your vanilla bean pods and add remaining rhubarb chunks to the compote. Pour the compote out onto a large plate to cool.

Orange-Rhubarb Butter
Recipe from Food in Jars

makes one pint (I had 5 cups of rhubarb so I just increased the recipe accordingly and got 3 half-pints of yield)
4 cups chopped rhubarb
1 cup sugar
1 cup orange juice
Combine the three ingredients in a wide pan (I used a 5 1/2 quart Dutch oven) and bring to a simmer. Reduce the temperature to low and let it gently bubble, stirring every five minutes or so. If it’s sticking to the bottom of the pot badly, lower the heat a bit more. Cook like this for at least an hour, until butter has reduced in volume and has turned a deep, rosy color.
Prepare one pint or two half pint jars. When butter is sufficiently cooked down, ladle it into jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims, apply lids and screw on bands. Process in a boiling water canner for fifteen minutes.
When processing time has elapsed, remove jars from canner and place them on a towel-lined countertop. When jars have cooled enough to handle, remove the rings and test the seals by gently grasping the lids and lifting the jars. If the lids hold fast, your seals are good. If your jars do not seal, store product in refrigerator and consume within a month.
Sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to six months.

6 responses to “rhubarb {two ways}

  1. These look so goofd! I love rhubarb. Nice job…

  2. Okay, you’ve sold me on the rhubarb butter. Gonna definitely make some this week! Thanks, Whitney!

  3. i made those tarts too – yum! except i stuck to the hibiscus to try something a little different than vanilla, but i do love vanilla and rhubarb together!

  4. That pastry looks ridiculously flaky…love it!

    I’ve started making the summer’s first batches of ice cream, and you’ve given me a great idea on what to serve under a scoop (or two). I bet these would be even more amazing a la mode! But then again, what wouldn’t?

  5. I still haven’t warmed up to rhubarb (which is a shame because my sister has a huge plant in her yard, but doesn’t like it either) but your butter seems like the thing for me to make — then I can use just a little bit whenever I want.

    I just love your pictures, Whitney. What kind of camera do you use? I just got a Canon Rebel XSI and I need to learn how to use it.

  6. Pingback: rhubarb streusel muffins | Whitney in Chicago

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