Someone needs to tell Seattle to get on the ball because it is actually spring, practically summer in fact. This weather is killing me. I could handle the winter dreary months, but 50 and drizzly in May is for the birds. Now that I think about it, I do seem to remember about going bonkers at this point last year, too.
The saving grace is that this must be the ideal climate for growing rhubarb, because it’s everywhere! There’s one plot at my local P-Patch that is almost entirely consumed by the gorgeous ruby stalks topped with huge fan-like deep green leaves. Even in the early spring months when everything else looked sort of bleak in the garden, the rhubarb was going like gang busters.
In the Winner Farm garden we also had a rhubarb patch. I remember being confused at how this strange celery-looking stalk could end up being part of the amazingly sweet, tart strawberry rhubarb pie SUE! used to make. Strawberries and rhubarb go hand in hand out of convenience – they ripen up at about the same time, but also because they are wonderful flavor compliments.
SUE!’s pie was dynamite. And you know what? One night each early summer, WE GOT TO EAT IT FOR DINNER! No obligatory four food groups, we went straight to dessert. I have no idea what possessed the woman to throw all responsible-parenting-caution to the wind, but it was the best night of the year.
Lately I’ve sort of become the default birthday-dessert-bringer. (Which, by the way, is a job that I’m just fine with.) So when the last call came in, I knew immediately this event called for rhubarb. Instead of making a pie, I opted for a crumble. Don’t tell the birthday girl, but it was really just because I was short on time and this recipe goes together in a few hectic (last) minutes. The best part is that it I ended up using a dish that was too small, so I had some leftovers that fit nicely into another small dish that I popped into the fridge and baked a few nights later. So feel free to make this in advance and bake it on demand. Or drop it off uncooked at a friend’s house and let their home fill up with the amazing aroma of bubbly rhubarb and brown sugar.
Resist the urge to dig right into this when it comes out of the oven. Besides the fact that it’s deceptively molten-hot, it only gets better with a few minutes to cool. And that way when you plop a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on the top, it won’t instantly melt. Enjoy!
Rhubarb and Orange Crumble
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Adapted from Epicurious.com
Time to Prepare: 60 minutes
2/3 cup flour
5 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
7 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2/3 cup chopped toasted almonds
2 pounds fresh rhubarb, trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
1/2 cup orange juice
5 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Combine flour, and both sugars in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes, about ¼” each. Add butter and stir until moist clumps form, using your fingers to mix. (Alternatively, mix ingredients in a food processor.) Mix in chopped toasted almonds.
Combine rhubarb, orange juice, sugar and orange peel in heavy large saucepan, and bring to simmer over medium heat.
Cook until rhubarb is tender but intact, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer the rhubarb to the baking dish.
Sprinkle topping over filling and bake until topping is deep golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cool on rack 10 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream.