I may have mentioned it before and I will mention again, and some of you may be surprised: I was quite the picky eater as a child. Ask my mother and she will confirm it. I can name on long list of items that probably many young kids are not big fans of: Lima beans, Brussel Sprouts, Spinach (maybe it had to do with the color green?). It almost seems the better it was for me, the more I rejected it. The idea of eating asparagus was appalling to me; Mushrooms, meh! Then my mother tried to sneak Tofu into stirfrys, and Swiss chard into fritters. I remember more than one night sitting at the kitchen table staring into a plate of long since gone cold veggies, wishing I had laser vision and could magically transport them to the trash or make them disappear while my parents weren't looking.
My how things have changed. It started slowly, probably when I was in college. One day the idea of a spinach quiche sounded amazingly alluring. Pizza arrived with Mushrooms and it was too much a bother to pick them off, and well they kinda tasted good. Somehow Tofu, Asparagus and Brussel Sprouts have sneaked into my diet as well, along with Sushi and some other things I swore I'd never eat as a child. As I get older, I become more and more of an adventurous eater, but there are no worries that I'll be putting that guy (Andrew Zimmerm?) on the travel channel out of business anytime soon.
It's a shame looking back on my childhood that I turned my nose up at so many great veggies, some of them even grown by my mother on our own land; a luxury in this day and age. There were some veggies procured from our garden that I adored: fresh juicy tomatoes, Sweet corn, Zuchinni and Yellow Squash. My mother also grew Rhubarb. However I always kinda of thought of the Rhubarb as an accident plant. It wasn't really in the garden; it grew in an old location closer to the driveway, next to the propane take for the house. Since my mother once had me collect Dandelion heads to put in fritters, I thought maybe this poor plant had just grown up there and my mother decided to use it. Rhubarb Cobbler or Crisp seemed to be the main use of this strange, reddish celery looking plant (and I didn't like celery either). Sometimes it would be mixed with other fruits like Strawberries. I would eat it because, well it was a dessert, but was never really sure if I liked it or not. It was odd to me, sweet and yet sour.
Rhubarb and Tea Tart from Mariage Freres
Last March when visiting Paris, I saw Rhubarb being used a lot, including Rhubarb yogurt in the grocery store. Its seems to be quite a popular flavor in France. Romain and I had brunch at the Tea Salon, Mariage Freres, during my visit. Our brunch included our choice of dessert from the dessert display. Our waiter had us walk over to the display and he went through describing each item. One dessert choice was a tart with Rhubarb and Tea. It had a nice crumbly topping and flecks of little dried blue flowers from the tea. Romain immediately chose this dessert. I took a slice of tart with caramelized pastry creme and fresh berries. I asked Romain about the Rhubarb, he said it was something he really liked, and especially in a crumble. I tried a bite of the tart and it was really good.
Rhubarb Crumble made for Le Cafe du Commerce
Last summer we made a Rhubarb crumble as the dessert du jour one day. I love the rosy shade of pink the Rhubarb becomes when it is baked. The crumble looked fantastic and I'm sure it was a hit at Le Cafe du Commerce, but I didn't try any of it that day. I kept seeing Rhubarb in the markets and meaning to buy some to make a crumble at home.... Last week on a trip to Russo's in Watertown, I finally bought some Rhubarb. The vibrant red stalks are hard to miss or ignore. I brought them home and a few days later I made my crumble.
Crumble Ready for the Oven
Here is how I made it. First I cut the stalks into small bite size pieces and tossed them with a few tablespoons of sugar. I then set them aside. I prepared a crumble topping with equal portions of Flour, Sugar and butter and then added some old fashioned oats. (meanwhile thinking I should take measurements so I can recreate this later....). I then divided the Rhubarb up into two oven proof ramekins. I had only bought a few stalks, so I had just enough for two. I used my hands to break the butter up into the flour and sugar till it looked like coarse crumbs and then stirred in the oats, and then generously spread it over the top of the ramekins. The crumbles baked at 350 for about 25 mins till the Rhubarb was soft and bubbly. I barely let them cool before I dug into to one. It amazes me how something so simple can be so good and comforting, and I immediately regretted not buying more Rhubarb. The stalks often catch my eye in the produce section at work now, and all I can think about is crumble.
Mmmmmmm, DeliciousI'm very happy for Rhubarb to join the ranks of Spinach and Tofu in the list of things I now like to eat as a grown up, I'm sorry I shunned it in the past. Today I found a great recipe in the Boston Globe today for a savory use of Rhubarb I am eager to try. However until I find a good recipe for poor Lima beans, they are staying put in the dislike catagory, sorry.