Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb 100 Times

rhubarb tart is better than pieI’ll say it this way, as simply as I can. ‘Cuz that’s how Lou Grant once said it.

“I cherish you people”.

I started this blog on November 21, 2008. Before that I never knowingly read a blog before. I had an “intellectual understanding” about what a blog was. But I remember thinking how could anyone really care that much about another person’s yammering. I remember thinking “how can I ever know if you have any idea what you are talking about?”

Well, I have done a one-eighty in these past 5 months. I now look to bloggers for inspiration! I look forward to reading your yammerings.

One of these inspirational moments came from an Award Winning Irish Food Blogger named The Daily Spud. She recently posted a marvelously simple rhubarb compote/stewed rhubarb recipe. Her joy and love for this recipe came shining through.

I made some lame comment about having never eaten rhubarb but having an “intellectual understanding” of what rhubarb was. I am the worst commenter. I actually am a better lurker. But still, sometimes you gotta support the bloggers you love.

So these past few weeks I have had rhubarb in the back of my mind. I am not the kind of person who is happy having an “intellectual understanding” of food. I am surprised she still speaks to me. 

There is only one way to reconcile the heavy burden I carry over my rhubarb remarks and the high standards to which I try to hold SippitySup.

rhubarb pie ingredientsThat’s right. I am posting nothing but rhubarb until I fully appreciate it! It’s kinda like writing on the blackboard 100 times “I will not stare at Jimmy Smart in Gym Class”.

Day-in-and-day-out you will come to SippitySup and you will see nothing but the sour stalks of no-ones favorite fruit.

That’s because rhubarb is a vegetable, a vegetable that makes itself most known as a dessert. The contradictions are enough to send me right back to the shrink.

But I think posting til my appreciation is well-honed is a much better (read cheaper) way to get to that place with rhubarb where I obviously need to be!

Rhubarb is an ancient vegetable. It was cultivated in China as far back as 5 centuries ago! Of course it was considered medicinal. It had a sour tang…that’s what medicines have always had!

But rhubarb made a journey and was traded along with “all the tea in China” around the globe. And now, it can be found almost everywhere. Good for rhubarb!

Still it took a while for rhubarb to catch on culinarily. The lovely folk of the U.K. have the honor of being the first to see it’s potential in the kitchen. But this was the 17th century and they did not have the Internet so they assumed the rough, leathery, “chard-like” leaves of the plant were the parts to be consumed.

But you know what? The leaves are poisonous. Oops! So rhubarb’s culinary debut was further delayed… nobody touched the stuff for 200 years!

rhubarb tarts cool on the windowBut finally the famed Covent Garden Market started selling the lovely red-ish pink stalks. They were so pretty that cooks assumed they were best used in sweet dessert recipes.

I think you know the rest of the story! Rhubarb pie was born. Rhubarb was soon dubbed the “pie plant”.

So in honoring rhubarbs long tortuous journey to our tables, I am starting my education right there. Maybe not with “pie”. Pies are hard to make! I am going to do cute, dainty little tartlets. Rhubarb Tartlets. Just big enough for one.

I am going to transpose your basic “fruit tart” recipe and apply it to rhubarb. Which means I am starting as basic as it gets. Chopped rhubarb tossed in flour and sugar and macerated with a little “kumquacello”. You could use a nice orange liqueur, but why would you when you have all that lovely “kumquacello” laying about! And I know you do…


Greg Henry