Cathie Campbell

Happy to see rhubarb

It is rhubarb season now, but every year that I am able to see my youngest son at Christmas time (his birthday is December 23), I kick myself for forgetting to can or freeze some fresh rhubarb. Even when he was a child, he much preferred a rhubarb pie to a traditional birthday cake. But do you think I could find any rhubarb in any shape or form back in December? No frozen pie, no bakery-fresh pie, no frozen rhubarb chunks, no canned pie filling and certainly not any fresh rhubarb, not that I was expecting it.

This year, I am going to make sure that I cut some up for the freezer, or maybe even can some pie filling. Wish me luck this time, as chances are I will either forget or get too busy. If you are a fan of rhubarb, I hope you will find something you like here today.

Individual rhubarb upside-down cakes

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 medium stalks rhubarb, washed and chopped

3 tablespoons white granulated sugar

* For cake:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon powdered ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and brown sugar, stirring until smooth. Divide mixture evenly among 6 buttered 8-ounce ramekins. In a medium bowl, toss the rhubarb with the 3 tablespoons white sugar. Spoon a layer of sweetened rhubarb into each ramekin.

2. For cake batter: cream the butter and brown sugar until well mixed. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until smooth. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and ginger. Mix the dry ingredients and sour cream into the butter mixture in alternating additions just until fully incorporated.

3. Pour the cake batter on top of the rhubarb in the ramekins. Bake for 30 minutes in preheated oven, until the cakes are golden and a wooden skewer inserted in a cake’s center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes. Carefully run a paring knife around the edges of each cake, then unmold onto serving plates. Makes 6 servings.

Easy rhubarb delight

4 cups rhubarb

1 cup sugar

1 box (3-oz.) strawberry gelatin

1 cup water

1 box yellow or white cake mix

1. Preheat oven to 350. Put 4 cups chopped rhubarb on the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch dish. Sprinkle with 1 cup sugar.

2. Sprinkle with 1 box strawberry gelatin. On the top, sprinkle 1 yellow or white cake mix. Over this pour 1 cup of water. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Delicious served with whipped cream or ice cream.

Raspberry rhubarb slab pie

Crust:

3 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter

3/4 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoons milk

1 egg yolk

* Filling:

2 cups sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

5 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed and drained

3 cups fresh or frozen sliced rhubarb, thawed and drained

* Vanilla icing:

1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

5 to 6 teaspoons milk

1. For crust: In a large bowl, combine flour and salt; cut in butter until crumbly. Whisk 3/4 cup milk and egg yolk; gradually add to flour mixture, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Add additional milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary. Divide dough in two portions so that one is slightly larger than the other; wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1 hour or until easy to handle.

2. Preheat oven to 375. Roll out larger portion of dough between two large sheets of lightly floured waxed paper into an 18-by-13-inch rectangle. Transfer to an ungreased 15-by-10-by-1-inch baking pan. Press onto the bottom and up sides of pan; trim pastry to edges of pan.

3. For filling: In a large bowl, combine sugar and cornstarch. Add raspberries and rhubarb; toss to coat. Spoon evenly into pastry.

4. Roll out remaining dough; place over filling. Fold bottom pastry over edge of top pastry; seal with a fork. Prick top with a fork.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.

6. For icing: Combine confectioners' sugar, vanilla and enough milk to achieve a drizzling consistency; drizzle over pie. Cut pie into squares. Makes 2 dozen.

Note: If using frozen rhubarb, measure while still frozen, then thaw completely. Drain in a colander, but do not press the liquid out.

Strawberry rhubarb sauce

Great over ice cream or even pancakes.

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup orange juice

5 teaspoons cornstarch

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

4 cups sliced fresh strawberries

1 cup sliced rhubarb

5 drops red food coloring, optional

1. In a large saucepan, combine sugar, orange juice, cornstarch and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add strawberries and rhubarb; reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Remove from heat and mash the cooked berries with a fork. Stir in food coloring, if using. Serve warm or cold.

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