So… you think you know rhubarb? "Of course", you say, "it's that kind of funny pink celery-looking stuff, isn't it?"
Well, that's one way of putting it, but did you also know:
Rhubarb is not a fruit but a vegetable, closely related to buckwheat and sorrel.
The name rhubarb comes from the Latin rhabarbarum meaning (depending on your viewpoint!) "root of the barbarians".
Rhubarb was cultivated by the Chinese as early as 2700 BC.
Rhubarb was initially prized for its medicinal properties, including its laxative powers.
By the mid 1600s, rhubarb in England was double the price of opium.
The redder the rhubarb stalk, the sweeter the taste.
Rhubarb is nicknamed the pie plant – its tart taste meant that it was primarily used in pies, together with sugar or some other form of sweetness.
Rhubarb leaves are high in oxalate and are considered toxic – but a human would have to eat an unlikely 5kg of bitter leaves to reach a lethal dose.
In Canada, "putting it in the rhubarb" means driving a car off the road and presumably into the bushes on the verge.
Rhubarb was the title of a 1951 movie featuring a ginger cat named (you guessed it)… Rhubarb.
So are we in the mood for a little rhubarb then (nudge, nudge, wink wink??). I certainly am – I've been on a bit of a rhubarb kick lately. First there was a reprise of the rhubarb crumble I made previously; then the delicious rhubarb, ginger and cranberry fool I made for a friend's BBQ – and then there was this clafoutis. I love making clafoutis: it's easy, delicious, once you have a basic recipe, there is no limit to the variations you can make. I figured if you can make clafoutis with quinces (which is what my go-to clafoutis recipe originally called for) rhubarb would be no problem. The cream was infused with ginger because it is a classic partner for rhubarb, and the overall effect was quite grown-up, despite the ridiculously girly pink colour. The custard puffed up beautifully, forming just enough of a crust above and below to contrast with the creamy centre, and the tart rhubarb provided the perfect foil.
This one's a keeper.
RHUBARB AND GINGER CLAFOUTIS (serves 6-8)
a thumb-size piece of fresh ginger root
240g castor sugar
1/2 tsp of vanilla essence
140g cake flour, sifted
50g softened butter
a small bunch of rhubarb stems, washed and cut into 1.5cm pieces
100ml or brandy
whipped cream to serve
Peel and thinly slice the ginger. In a small saucepan, heat the cream and ginger slices until the liquid is almost boiling, then remove from the heat and allow to steep for at least 30 minutes. Strain, pressing down on the ginger in the sieve to extract maximum flavour. Allow the cream to cool to room temperature or lower.
Beat the eggs, cream, sugar and vanilla essence together in a bowl. Add flour and beat with a wooden spoon for about 1 minute. If time allows, set aside to rest for 1 hour at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 220C and butter a 2 litre ovenproof dish. Spread the rhubarb pieces evenly over the base of the buttered dish and drizzle with the brandy. Pour the batter over the rhubarb (they will float – don't worry – this is normal!) and bake on the top shelf of the oven for about 40 minutes until golden, puffy and set.
Dust with icing sugar (optional) and serve immediately with whipped cream.
Other clafoutis recipes on CookSister:
Elsewhere on the food blogs: