Super Easy Rhubarb Curd: The only thing you need to eat this spring.

Here’s what I’m smitten with these days: Rhubarb.

I know this tangy tart vegetable (I actually had to stop and think about what rhubarb is for a moment… Is it a vegetable? Lets maybe just call it a plant) This tangy, tart plant can be an acquired taste, and thankfully one that my adult taste buds have grown right into (however, at this point, I think mustard is a lost cause… if I haven’t liked it for almost 30 years, I’m going to guess I’m not growing into that one… I am still undecided about radishes…. I WANT to like them… and mostly I do when other people prepare them. And then I get so excited every spring, and a plant a billion of them because they grow really fast and I can’t wait to have something growing, and then each and every year I harvest the perfect looking radish and am filled with more emotion than one should really have towards any vegetable, and I take a giant bite, chew it around for a bit, and then head over to the sink to spit it out…. EVERY YEAR I DO THIS! Maybe eventually I will learn that I should just eat other people’s radishes and life will be good. And yes, I’m totally aware of how that sounds as I’m reading this aloud, but I’m choosing just to leave it… I mean, I’m not the kind of girl who just goes around eating other people’s radishes…)

 

Rhubarb

Rhubarb

Back to the rhubarb… thank you taste buds for getting this one figured out. And lets be honest… even if you are on the fence about rhubarb, aren’t you crushing on it a little bit this time of year? The contrast of the pale green and garnet hues alone have me swooning! For the last few weeks I’ve been observing my two rhubarb plants from a bit of a distance. Not because I am scared of them, though their very large poisonous leaves are always a little daunting, but mostly because I couldn’t think of anything overly creative to do with it. Last year I made rhubarb rosemary gin and tonics, (Amaze balls!) and I was already mentally planning out my rhubarb syrup, but other than that I was a little stumped. There it sat, out in the yard, challenging me from afar, taunting me even, to come up with some sort of amazing and worthwhile dish… I toyed with the idea of going savory (which I still may… I mean I’ve got a lot of rhubarb) But a few days ago I was searching on Pinterest for some bachelorette party ideas, and suddenly saw mention of Rhubarb Curd. Lights, bells, whistles, fireworks, bam, bang, hello! How had I not thought of this earlier? Lemon curd is only one of my most favorite things ever, and both lemon and rhubarb share that wonderful tanginess. I spent the rest of that day wistfully dreaming of rhubarb curd and magical it would be, and at the end of the work day I promptly came home and made up a recipe. It’s every bit as good as I hoped it would be. I’ve mostly been eating it with yogurt and strawberries, but it is also amazing on toast, mixed in with oatmeal, or just by the spoonful.

 


 

Rhubarb Curd- Author adapted from Dana Velden recipe.

Make about 2 Cups

Ingredients

  • 5 medium stalks of rhubarb
  • ¼ C Water
  • ¾ C sugar
  • zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 stick of butter, cubed
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ¼ tsp salt

Method

  • Wash and trim the rhubarb stalks, and cut into ¾ inch pieces. Place in sauce pan with ¼ C of sugar, and ¼ C water, cover and turn on medium/ high heat. Cook for 10 minutes or until rhubarb is soft and begins to fall apart.
  • Remove rhubarb mixture from heat, and pour contents into a blender or food processor (or use an emulsion blender). And puree until smooth. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a food processor combine ½ C sugar and the lemon zest. Pulse a few times to combine. Add in the egg yolks, butter, salt, and lemon juice. Pulse a few times until combined. Add in the rhubarb puree, and mix. about 15-20 seconds. (The mixture may look a little curdled, don’t worry!)
  • Transfer mixture into a sauce pan, and cook on a low heat, stirring almost constantly using a heat resistant spatula. It is quite easy to burn/ curdle the curd, so be attentive. Cook until the mixture noticeably begins to thicken (about 12-15 minutes) or until it reaches about 170 degrees.
  •  Pour the curd into a storage jar, and let it cool to room temperature before closing and storing in the refrigerator. Rhubarb curd should last for about a week in the refrigerator, though chances are it won’t last that long!

 

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* a note about the color. The rhubarb I have growing in my yard is mostly green… therefore my rhubarb curd looks like muddy lemon curd. However, I’m quite certain that if you are purchasing the glorious garnet colored rhubarb, your rhubarb curd will be a really dreamy light pink color.

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Rhubarb Rosemary Gin and Tonics

 

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One of the most fun things about my house, is discovering the things that are coming up in the garden. This is my first spring here, so there are a number of surprises. One of my favorite things thus far, has been the two huge rhubarb plants in the back yard. I have no idea how old they are, and if they have a story (I’m sure they do, but it isn’t mine) and I’ve spent the last few weeks, harvesting, and prepping the rhubarb for some delicious thing. It isn’t the “best” rhubarb in the world, the stalks are a little gangly and woody, and they are mostly green-ish, but I still managed to get quite a harvest, and have put quite a bit in the freezer for future jams, bread, and pies.

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Yesterday I was feeling like I needed a domestic project though, and so I wandered out to the garden to see if there was anything interesting to harvest. I ended up picking a handful of rhubarb, and immediately came inside to start on a simple syrup. I wanted to create something fresh, and herbal, and decided that rosemary would pair wonderfully with the tartness of the rhubarb. I tend to lean away from using rosemary in conventional ways, because the flavor can be really overpowering, and generally speaking I think it gets overused… but give me a rosemary pairing that is a little outside of the box, and I’m all over it (rosemary thyme sugar cookies are my favorite things on the planet). Rhubarb rosemary gin and tonic anyone?

My  favorite part (or one of my favorite parts)  of my new job is playing bar tender, and coming up with new and unusual cocktails that have a fresh market flair to them. The lemon-basil vodka tonics have been a smashing success, and have a permanent home on the menu, and the Cucumber rosemary gin and tonics have had great reviews as well… Now if only the summer weather would stick around. Hello Oregon, we are ready for the refreshing cocktails!

As I simmered the rhubarb with sugar, water, rosemary and lemon I started to scheme all the tasty things I could do with the concoction. My immediate thought was of course the gin and tonic (because it sounds delicious, right?) but there was also a bottle of Prosecco in my fridge staring me down, and what better to pair with a bit of bubbles than a wonderfully pink and herbaceous syrup? (I’m actually drinking this right now, hello-wine Wednesday! its fabulous. I don’t usually drink in the middle of the day, but I had to take some photos for this post, and when in Rome/ when it is your weekend you drink the rhubarb rosemary bubbles for lunch).

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For those of you who have not cooked with rhubarb, it disintegrates into a stringy mush of swamp water fairly quickly. Don’t let this deter you… the end product is totally worth it. Once the syrup was fully infused with the rhubarb and rosemary flavor, I strained off solids, and the result was a beautiful pale pink liquid. No more swamp water, hello cocktail possibilities. (plus the rhubarb mush is totally delicious, and I would highly recommend eating it by the spoonful, spreading it on toast, or putting it in a crepe.)

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I’m totally obsessed with the blush color of the syrup, something about it just makes me feel very lady like… perfect for brunches, bridal showers, or just a Wednesday afternoon. The party-thrower/ hostess in me wanted to add a little more flair to the cocktails, so I froze some rosemary in my ice cubes. It is so simple, and presents amazingly, and can be done with any herb or edible flower. I love adding mint or lavender to ice cubes for lemonade, and borage blossoms and rose petals make a beautiful addition to any punch.

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Rhubarb Rosemary Simple Syrup:
Equal parts sugar and water (I used 2 cups of each)
roughly two cups of diced rhubarb
juice from 1/2 a lemon
4-5 small sprigs of rosemary.

Combine water, sugar, rosemary, rhubarb and lemon juice in a sauce pan. Slowly bring to a boil, and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Strain out solids and save for some delicious snack.

I’d love to see what other delicious ideas people have for this syrup, and highly encourage you to share them here!

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Rhubarb Rosemary Gin and tonic:

2 oz gin (I used Ransom gin, my absolute favorite)
1 oz rhubarb rosemary simple syrup
tonic water to taste
garnish with lime wedge & sprig of rosemary.

Rhubarb Rosemary Prosecco Sparkler
1-2 oz of rhubarb rosemary simple syrup (or to taste)
top off with prosecco & a rosemary garnish.

 

Signs of Spring: A few photo nuggets from around the yard

I love springtime in Oregon. Love. Love. Love it. I grew up in Montana, and even though I’ve lived here for ten years, I still tend to think of February as a snowy cold month full of blah. I’m still pleasantly surprised every year when we get a week or so of epically beautiful days full of sunshine and the promise of spring. Since  I moved into my house last July, I missed springtime in the yard, so the past few weeks have been ones of excitement and discovery and trial and error. My dad and I have been trimming all the fruit trees, and various bushes throughout the yard… we have no idea what we are doing, but we are doing it with great confidence.

Some aspects of the yard are not a surprise. Even though I missed the blooms last year, I knew there were lilacs out front, and peonies in the back, and a lovely winter Daphne off the back porch. I saw the Rhubarb plants in a state of disarray. I knew that spring would bring about some amazing things, but one thing I wasn’t expecting was the plethora of bulbs scattered pretty much through every corner of the property. It’s been a really fun surprise. There are literally hundreds of crocus, hyacinth daffodils, and tulips emerging right now, and each day I pop outside with baited breath hoping that something has started blooming. I still have a ways to go most of the plants… but the ones that are up right now are absolutely lovely, and I’m quite excited to see what other spring time surprises are in store for me here.

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Tulips emerging around the terracotta bulldog

Hydrangea starting to bud out

Hydrangea starting to bud out

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The most amazing crocus I've ever seen

The most stunning crocus I’ve ever seen

Daffodils?

Daffodils?

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Tree Peonies budding out

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Mystery Bush

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Rhubarb

More Mystery Bulbs

More Mystery Bulbs

Mini-Iris

Mini-Iris

Peonies peaking up

Peonies peaking up

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Crocus

Daphne

Daphne