Spring Fling is here and were celebrating Spring’s bounty with Deb, Editor of Food Network, Margaret of Away to Garden, Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen, Matt Armendariz of Matt Bites, Shauna of Gluten Free Girl, Gaby of What’s Gaby Cooking and Nicole of Pinch My Salt.
This week’s theme is rhubarb and to participate, just share your rhubarb recipe link in our blog on the comments below, as well as the blogs of all our participating friends!
The world needs more rhubarb dishes. It’s fun to say. You can freak people out by telling them the leaves are poisonous. It looks like a funky red celery stalk. It magically transforms when cooked from firm and crispy to melting-ly soft and it has an amazing sweet-tart tang.
Here in Southern California, it seems like we hardly ever see anyone using rhubarb. You’ll find the few tired stalks in the grocery produce section, and the better farmers’ markets will always have a farmer or two with their freshly hacked red canes, but I can’t remember the last time I saw rhubarb on a restaurant dessert list or in a bakery’s selection. Maybe we just aren’t hitting the right places.
Yet despite it’s So Cal scarcity, anytime we make something with rhubarb when we have guests over, they go nuts. All the sudden it becomes Prairie Home Companion time and everyone starts recalling tales of their youth and home town stories. “I haven’t had rhubarb in forever! Reminds me of back when…”
Maybe it is a good thing we don’t get spoiled with regular rhubarb delights. It’s kind of nice having an ingredient remind us of our innocent years. It takes me back to the house of one of Dad’s cutting horse buddies (who was also our Jr. High P.E. teacher) and the evenings spent there where us kids tried to play pool while the adults gabbed about boring adult stuff, and all summer long there was almost always a rhubarb pie perched on the counter top. Regular Norman Rockwell times.
In preparing for this dish, I was determined to avoid the cliche of the rhubarb-strawberry pairing. “Sure they are fantastic together, but it’s… too cliche,” I kept protesting in my head. However one of our photo gigs this past week was to shoot a local strawberry farm for Whole Foods, and the berries were sooooo good. So Cal rocks the strawberry fields, and when they are in season, it is hard to get them out of your head.
My no-strawberry will power lasted until literally a hour before I had time to make the crumb bars to shoot. But that last trip to the market to get eggs gave me just enough of an excuse to deviate over to a nearby farmer’s stand and get a 3-pack of juicy, sweet gorgeous strawberries.
So this bar recipe is now a Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumb Bar recipe. If you have more will power than I, just double the rhubarb and leave out the strawberries. You can always save the pardoned strawberries for Strawberry Mojitos.
These bars are rhubarb rock stars. The base batter bakes into a wonderful soft, moist cake. The next layer is the sweet-tart dynamic duo of the strawberries and rhubarb which have baked down to a tender tang. Then everything is finished off with a brown sugar streusel topping. If you really want to go crazy, whip up a batch of fresh whipped cream and top the bars with a little heaven. Mamma.
Step by Step
Our friends this week sharing their favorite Rhubarb recipes!
Yield: Serves 16.
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Adapted from Martha Stewart's rhubarb crumb bar recipe. If you want pure 'barb, just double the amount in the recipe, and leave out the strawberries.