Saturday, May 28, 2011

Rhubarb Berry Crisp

Do you love rhubarb?  Do you grow it?

I have, on retainer, an under-gardener who shall remain nameless.  At any given time, he is available and willing to move plants, plant seeds, dig dirt, turn compost, and anything my little gardening heart desires.

He's only made a couple of mistakes.  One spring he covered my Bleeding Hearts plant (ok, he yanked out the "weed" first) with landscape fabric and rocks.  Oops.  Forgot he gave the plant to me for Mother's Day the year before. 

Then a couple years ago, he moved the rhubarb plant from a terribly shady and rocky area to the middle of my herb garden - well done!  Except, the next spring when it started to come up, it appeared to his under-gardener eyes to be a weed and therefore was summarily yanked.

It's a very good thing my dear friend Michelle has a large amount of rhubarb in her garden.  This week, I became the happy recipient of a grocery bag full of the crispy, sour, springtime deliciousness.

My repertoire with rhubarb is fairly limited.  Know what I don't like?  The custardy rhubarb pie that most people moan and sigh over.  Something about the eggy creaminess combined with the rhubarb sends me a-gagging. 

I prefer Rhubarb Crisp!  My opinion is that rhubarb needs friends, so I usually do half rhubarb and half either berries, apples, peaches, or some other fruit.  It's one of the easiest things to whip up in 30 minutes. 

It's a "bit of this and that" recipe, so I'll talk you through how I make it. 

Rhubarb Berry Crisp

I get a big bag of mixed frozen berries at Costco.  In a 9 x 13 pan, pour in about 4 cups of these, or any one single berry, or your favorite combination.  Frozen or fresh, whatever you like, but frozen is so handy - no washing or stemming!

Then, take several stalks of rhubarb and slice/dice into the size you like - I like about 1/2 inch pieces.  When you have close to 3-4 cups, dump that into the pan with the berries and sort of toss them around.

The amount of sugar to use is up to you.  I sprinkle on about 1/2 cup and toss the berries/rhubarb again.

Now for the topping.  I use my homemade granola (which you can find under breakfasts), mixed with some melted butter, brown sugar, and a bit of flour.  You can use store bought granola, or you can just use plain old rolled oats.  For this size pan, I put 2-3 cups of granola into a bowl, and add 1/2 cup melted butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1/4 cup flour.  Toss this around until it's combined and moist. (If you use plain oats, you'll need to add some spice like cinnamon, some nuts if you want, and a bit more sugar.)

Using your hands, sprinkle the topping onto the crisp.  It's ok if some of the fruit pokes through.  It's no biggie.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until the topping seems crunchy and the fruit is soft and bubbly.

How to serve?  Hello ice cream.  Or whipped cream.  Or, if you're feeling old fashioned, put a serving of the fruit and topping into a bowl, and slooooooowly pour on a drizzle of heavy cream.  Watch how the fruit juice bleeds into the cream and makes little swirly patterns and turns it all pinky-purple.

TIP - there's nothing better than having both your berries AND your rhubarb ready to go at a moment's notice.  So, make nice with a friend who has lots of rhubarb, or buy some from your local farmer's market, dice it up, and put it in 2-3 cup amounts in a freezer bag.  It lasts in the freezer for several months.  Then you just open the freezer, pull out the rhubarb and the berries, dump them into your pan, top, bake and eat.  Make sure you save one amount of rhubarb for fall - Apple-Rhubarb Crisp or Pie is the best thing ever.



(Sorry, can't give a serving picture, taking this pan to a party tonight . . .)

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