A Culinary Adventure, From Gardens and Markets to Restaurants and Home Kitchens
Jun 12, 2012
02:03 PM
Local Flavor

Tasteful Rhubarb

Tasteful Rhubarb

Some trends run their course quickly, gracing us with their intolerable presence for just a few weeks, or possibly a long and painful season. Mullets, shoulder pads and bacon-flavored chewing gum (really!) are a few that come to mind. Other trends stand the test of time, appearing in various manifestations over the years: a great pair of jeans, a shoulder-length bob and balsamic vinegar on ice cream (believe me, I was a skeptic, too), to name a few. Another trend that I think is here to stay? Rhubarb curd. Yes, you heard me, rhubarb curd.

You may know that I am a fan of rhubarb; it is no secret. The plant that never dies, the stems that turn from tough to soft in about ten minutes flat, freeze easily and taste good with everything from just a bit of sugar served on yogurt to chipotle and OJ slow-cooked with pork shoulder. I am smitten. 

Rhubarb curd is one of my favorite ways to eat the tart stalk, and dare I say this recipe has the makings of a classic? A simple shortbread crust is topped with a smooth, tart-sweet, beautiful rose-pink curd. A perfect, if unexpected, treat for a summer dinner that can be enjoyed with anything, from moon boots to a little black dress.

RECIPE: Rhubarb Curd Shortbread Bars

Adapted from Lara Ferroni.
Makes about a dozen bars.

4 ounces butter, room temperature
1 cup (136 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
A pinch of salt
About 1/2 of the rhubarb curd recipe below
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the butter, flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a mixer. Start on low speed (to keep the flour from flying everywhere), stir until it resembles coarse crumbs. Then increase speed slightly and continue to mix until a soft dough forms. Take the dough and press it into a 9" x 5" baking dish. Let rest at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Bake until it is lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, finish preparing the curd. Remove shortbread from oven when done. Pour enough curd onto the crust to make a layer a little less than 1/4 inch thick, and bake for another 10 minutes, until the curd has set. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate about 20 minutes before slicing. Dust with powdered sugar.

Rhubarb Curd

400 grams rhubarb (about 10 to 15 stalks)
1/3 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar 
A pinch of salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
50 grams unsalted butter, cut up into chunks

Wash and chop rhubarb into 1/2 inch chunks. There is no need to peel, but if stalks are particularly large, you might trim off any tough parts. Stir the rhubarb and 1/4 cup of sugar together and let sit for about 10 minutes. Place in a medium sized pot with about 1/4 cup of water and cook over low heat until you can no longer see whole pieces. Turn off the heat and let cool to room temperature. Blend to a smooth puree with immersion blender or press through strainer. If you are making the bars, pause at this point to make and bake the crust. In a double boiler (or a bowl over boiling water), whisk the egg yolks, remaining sugar and salt. Whisk until well combined and warm. Add about 1 cup of the stewed rhubarb and the lemon zest. Keep stirring until the mixture is warm again and thickened, about 5 minutes. Check for taste and add more of the pureed rhubarb until you get the desired flavor and color. Remove from heat and stir in the butter chunks. If you are not using the curd immediately, let it cool to room temperature and then store refrigerated for up to a week.

This recipe makes more curd than you’ll need for the Rhubarb Bars. And you will be so glad! Try the extra curd in muffins.

Photo by Otehlia Cassidy.

About This Blog

Writing has always provided an anchor for my passions, which focus deeply on food, dance, environmental conservation and culture. I grew up “helping” my dad cultivate a prolific garden that produced too many radishes and watching my mom make almost all of our food from scratch, including horehound candy. Meanwhile I took my first African dance class in high school, which ignited my continuing quest to travel to West Africa, via Europe and South America, to study dance.

Through my travels, I learned that we are all connected by food, and our basic need to eat. Since moving to Madison in 1998 to pursue degrees in conservation biology and dance, I have developed an appreciation for the richness of our local food community, and a great desire to share it with others. What started as a personal food blog, A World of Flavors, has since grown into a business teaching cooking classes and leading local and international food tours.

I look forward to sharing culinary adventures with you through my Madison Magazine blog Local Flavor and monthly Dining In recipe column.

  – Otehlia Cassidy
Follow Otehlia on Twitter @madisoneats

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