Sunday, May 14, 2006

Rhubarb Crumbles Are Just Very Small Pies, Too

It's rhubarb season!

Okay, I've never cooked with rhubarb before. But I wish I'd started sooner! I was at the Tompkins Square Greenmarket today (Eat Local Challengers take note - and explore the many wonders of rhubarb!), and there were only three stalks of rhubarb left. I thought, well, if it's so popular, I guess I ought to try it - though there's not a lot one can do with three reject stalks of rhubarb (clearly the other shoppers' discards, too - not red at all, just green and celery-looking). Nevertheless, I brought my three rhubarb sticks home and put together three little individual Rhubarb Crumbles (I made a half-recipe).

These turned out really well - sweet and very tart with a wonderful nutty crunch. The filling turned orange (because of the juice) instead of traditional rhubarb-pink because of the greenness of the stems, but was no less delicious. An added benefit - I got to try out my new food processor on the almonds! No more using my pathetic blender to puree things - hooray!

Things I didn't know about rhubarb before today:

- The leaves of the rhubarb plant are toxic.

-The plant is not indigenous to North America (I always thought of rhubarb pie and preserves as very all-American!).

- "Rhubarb" is a word commonly muttered by extras on theatre or movie sets "to cause the effect of general hubbub" (Wikipedia). Wiki also tells us that "[as] a result, the word "rhubarb" sometimes is used to mean "length of superfluous text in speaking or writing", or a general term to refer to irrelevant chatter by chorus or extra actors."

Individual Orange-Rhubarb Crumbles


2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup whole almonds
5 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
7 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2/3 cup chopped toasted almonds

2 pounds fresh rhubarb, trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
1/2 cup orange juice
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1 tablespoon all purpose flour


For topping: Combine flour, 1/2 cup whole almonds and both sugars in processor. Blend mixture until almonds are finely ground. Add butter and process until moist clumps form, using on/off turns. Transfer to bowl. Mix in chopped toasted almonds. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

For filling: Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine rhubarb, orange juice, 5 tablespoons sugar and orange peel in heavy large saucepan. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Cook until rhubarb is tender but intact, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Using slotted spoon, divide warm rhubarb among six 1 1/4-cup custard cups, leaving excess juices behind. Blend 1 tablespoon flour and 1 tablespoon sugar in small bowl. Whisk into juices in saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until mixture boils and thickens, about 1 minute. Divide juice mixture equally among custard cups and stir into rhubarb.

Sprinkle topping over filling, dividing equally. Bake until topping is deep golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool crumbles on rack 15 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.

Serves 6.

(Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit at


Jennifer said...

Sounds lovely; I am a big fan of a good crumble. I've never cooked with rhubarb either, but it sounds like I'll have to keep my eyes out for it.

Don't you love the mini-Cuisinart? I've had mine for 5 years now, and it's still one of the kitchen appliances I'm not sure I could do without.

Kate said...

Yes! I'm addicted. Grinding up everything I can get my hands on. Puree, anyone?

Angela said...

Ohhh my god, that sounds amazing! I'm addicted to rhubarb. I've never had a crumble though... Hmmm maybe that's something I should learn how to make this summer. I bet Ryan would get a kick out of that!

darlamay said...

lol I liked your rhubarb info! I'll never watch extras in the background the same way again! Thanks for the tips about detoxing! I liked the rewards idea and I agree, taking all of the fiber supplements is a pain in the butt and we don't think we'll do it this way again, though we are getting get benefits all the same. I think we were just determined to try it-- "all or nothing" style for the first time. We are detoxing for just under 3 weeks-- how long did you do it?

ThursdayNext said...

My best friend once made this amazing rhubarb sauce. I put it on everything for two weeks: ice cream, angel food cake. Hell, I even considered putting it on broccoli, that is how good it was!

Kate said...

angela - you and ryan are so cute =)

darla - i emailed you!

amy - welcome to pie in the sky! i always get excited about new commenters. Thanks for piping up! I was actually considering buying a whole bunch of rhubarb at sunday's market and making a big bowl of compote-sauce-stuff to put on granola, ice cream, etc. So we're definitely on the same wavelength =)

TOR said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
michelle said...

Kate, WOW! You've been busy cooking up so many wonderful things! And of course, a big hearty congratulations (albeit a bit late) on your graduation, my dear! I like your combination of orange and rhubarb, especially because most recipes that I've read only combine strawberries with it. Keep all the delicious food coming, I've got to get caught up!

ms. mcgehee said...

kate, spoke w/ your mom this a.m., catching up was great/did she tell you i "called" her during graduation, she and i "stood up" waved while talking on our cell/anyway, i so enjoyed perusing your site/ i come from a long line of GREAT southern cooks (NOT including myself/)however, i am definitely a "patron" of the culinary arts/ also appreciating a "been there" review of eateries/oh, congratulations on your graduation/ (i think i saw you, and i know i saw your name as it "scrolled" by)/ take care/ i'll keep checking your site, love the pictures, esp./love, ms. mcgehee

Jamie said...

Rhubarb may be my very favorite fruit of all. I am always surprised by how many people have never tried it. Or they might have tried it mixed half and half with strawberries, but never alone.

Your crumbles sound delish!

Kate said...

Yeah, you know, I've never had the rhubarb-strawberries combo, but after having rhubarb by itself, i can think of a bunch of other fruits that it would pair better apples? or oranges (like in my recipe)? I'm not that big a fan of cooked strawberries...they're sort of mushy and remind me of IHOP.