Monday, May 21, 2012

Rhubarb in the Bag

I am a lucky girrrl.  Some friends of mine are currently enjoying spring in Ireland and France. While they are gone they asked me to sit on their house.  This I do not mind for many reasons.  I get to watch Mad Men, not just for the vintage 60s suburban kitchens (can't wait for the 70s) but also for Joan's pencil necklace.  Jackson and I get to stalk the herd of wild rabbits that have wiped out the young eggplant seedlings in the backyard.  Sadly due to Jackson's incredible agility and prey drive, there is no off leash pursuit since the fences surrounding the yard barely slow down his fierce devotion to Kill the Wabbit.  But the best thing about house sitting (until the pool opens) is the weekly CSA.  So far I've enjoyed baby spinach, eggs, broccoli, lettuce, chard, asparagus, and basil.  This week included something I'd never cooked with before - rhubarb.

rhubarb 1

Rhubarb is not exotic or new but it's just one of those ingredients that never made an appearance in the cooking adventures of my youth.  So it was a bit of a surprise to see it in the bag of spring offerings.  Rhubarb seems to me to be one of those old fashioned vegetables.  I'm sure my grandmother would know what to do with these stalks.  I do remember seeing numerous recipes in old church spiral bound cookbooks, usually involving pies, crumbles and cobblers.  The most common use was to pair it up with the first spring fruit, strawberries.  The strawberry's sweetness balanced out the rhubarb's wincing tartness.  I just didn't have enough to make a pie.  Luckily for me my recent batch of library cookbooks included Wild Flavors by Didi Emmons and the recipe for Coconut Rice Pudding with Rhubarb.

Coconut Rice Pudding with Rhubarb

Makes 6 servings
Rice Pudding:
1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup white rice 
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
Pinch salt
3 cups coconut milk (two 13-ounce cans will do)
2 - 3 cups soy milk, almond milk or half-and-half
3 large stalks rhubarb (about 3/4 pound), thinly sliced
3 tablespoons sugar
1.  To make the pudding, combine the rice, sugar, cardamom, salt, 2 cups soy milk, almond milk, or half-and-half, and coconut milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Let the mixture come to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low, cover, and let cook until thick and the rice is tender, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours, stirring from time to time to keep the pudding from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.  If it does stick to the saucepan, add more soy milk, almond milk, or half-and-half as needed.
2.  Transfer the pudding to a container with a lid and let it come to room temperature uncovered, then chill in the refrigerator, covered.
3.  Meanwhile, to make the topping, combine the rhubarb, sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan over low heat.  Let the mixture come to a simmer, and let simmer until the rhubarb softens while still holding its shape, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the rhubarb to a container with a lid and let it come to room temperature uncovered, then chill in the refrigerator, covered.
4.  To serve, spoon the rice pudding into clear glasses, then spoon the rhubarb mixture over the rice pudding.  
A couple of notes to the recipe above.  I used everything I had on hand so, 1 cup of brown rice instead of mixing the two, two 14 ounce cans of lite coconut milk, and 2 cups of 2% milk instead of the soy milk.

rhubarb 2

Additionally I wandered far afield of the topping recipe.  I wanted more of a rhubarb sauce instead of a slightly cooked rhubarb topping.  So 2/3 cup of sugar instead of 3 tablespoons and cooked it until it broke down into a chunky sauce.

rhubarb 4

Wow!  The coconut rice pudding is luscious on it's own but adding the distinctive sweet and sour rhubarb sauce turns it into an exquisite dessert.  Not only that but this sauce would be great on oatmeal, yogurt, and ice cream.  So thank you CSA farmers, rhubarb rocks.


the dogs' mother said...

My Aunty Barbara used to make rhubarb pie every time she visited. We were hardcore - no other fruit allowed.

Abby says tell Action Jackson that magpies have been added to the list of not to be tolerated in our yard. Which should keep them from nesting in the pine tree - the yearly fledgling of 'Fly DAMNIT, fly!!'is enough to drive you batty.

Big Shamu said...

So was your Aunty Barbara's pie extra tart?

Action Abby has quite a list but really can't she leave the pond lily blooms alone?

the dogs' mother said...

Hard to remember. I know I've always liked tart fruit so it might have been. Contrast the tartness with vanilla ice cream - and sounds like your coconut/rhubarb pudding.

Lily pads, lilies, aquatic iris, marsh marigold all on her list of plants to be brought to justice.

MakingSpace said...

I made a brilliant comment a couple of hours ago, y'all will have to trust me on that 'cause it didn't go through. Hmph. Anyway, I wanted to say that I've never been a fan of rice pudding, having grown up in a culture that only used rice in savory preparations. But this particular version might get me interested.

The thing is, though, I'd probably want a lot of sauce and a little rice pudding. Hope that's all right...

And - loved the soda fountain glass as the dish for the dish!!! Very Mad Men, and it makes it easy to either eat or dump on the heads of the men in Mad Men. Not that I think they're pigs or anything. On second thought, though, why waste good food on those jerks?

Rice pudding, rhubarb, and well-placed pencil necklaces for all!

Big Shamu said...

MS you could make just the sauce and put it on ice cream?

MakingSpace said...

OMG. Yes, yes I totally could do that. I may or may not have just gasped and clutched at my chest and gotten a little dizzy at the prospect. Maybe.

the dogs' mother said...

coconut ice cream... (is there such a thing?)

Dani said...

We get coconut ice cream at a little thai place close to home here.

Big Shamu said...

But do you grow rhubarb?

Buzz Kill said...

When I was growing up, I had an uncle who grew his own rhubarb. My mom made a great strawberry rhubarb pie. She also use to stew it, mash it by hand and add lots of sugar to make sort of a rhubarb sauce. But we would just eat it plain out of the bowl.

The consistency looks kind of like yours, but it was a darker brownish red color. Not the most appetizing thing to look at, but sweet-tart and we ate it up.

It looks good with your rice pudding.