So, you know what happens now, right? Twenty-five pounds of rhubarb from Grandma’s garden that I need to work my way through means all rhubarb, all the time for the next 10 posts. I’m contemplating changing the blog name to Rhubarb Kitchen.
I jest, I jest. Mostly. I know that some of you out there are not so fond of the pink stalks (perish the thought), so I will try not to deluge you with too many rhubarb recipes in a row. But I wanted to share this one before rhubarb goes the way of ramps & fiddleheads: a riff on my standard fruit crumble, this one with Maine rhubarb, local ginger and the first. cherries. of. the. season. (
I won’t torture you with a SQUEEE! Who am I kidding? Local, unsprayed cherries in the Hud, in June = SQUEE!!!). I amped up the cherry flavor with a healthy dash of ginjinha, a Portuguese cherry liqueur that I sampled frequently during my three weeks in Portugal in the late 90’s: last month, a girlfriend in DC gifted me with a premium bottle, from her own travels in Lisboa, with the rationale, “I know you’ll cook something with it.” And indeed: she was right. I tossed some fresh minced ginger into the mix, because rhubarb loves ginger, and married it all together with a 3-hour maceration in raw sugar.
Since the lovely, talented and oh-so-Hip Kate Payne was visiting me, en route to a very fun opening day at the Coventry Regional Farmer’s Market with The Other Kate, I adapted the topping for Kate’s gluten-free needs. Organic brown rice flour replaced the whole wheat pastry flour that I usually use, gluten-free oats subbed in for regular rolled oats, and Kate suggested adding a bit of ground flax seed to the mix, as a binding aid. Crumbles and crisps adapt well to gluten-free baking, I feel, because the gluten in wheat flour is not really activated in the typical crumble topping; the flour is simply serving as a binder for chunkier oats, sugar, nuts and the like. The flax seed-rice flour combination appeared to work beautifully here: we had nice chunks of crumbly topping, it did not get overly mushy or soggy, and both Kate and Tai declared it delicious. I call that a success.
- 3 oz (about 3/4 cup) brown rice flour
- 3 tbsp flax seeds
- 1 and 1/2 oz (1/2 cup) gluten-free oats
- 3 oz (about 2/3 cup) raw, unsalted nuts (I used pine nuts & pecans here)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- a dash of freshly ground black pepper
- 2 and 1/2 oz (1/3 cup) butter, melted
- 12 oz rhubarb, trimmed and sliced to 1/4-inch
- 8 oz sweet cherries, rinsed, stemmed & pitted
- 4 oz raw sugar (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 heaping tbsp minced fresh ginger (about a thumb-sized piece, peeled)
- pinch sea salt
- 1/4 cup cherry liqueur, such as ginjinha (optional)
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- In a medium bowl, combine rhubarb, cherries, ginger, sugar, sea salt and liqueur (if using). Mix well and allow to macerate, for at least 1 hour at room temperature, or refrigerated overnight. The point is to get the rhubarb & cherries to release some of their juice; if you are short on time, you can speed up this process by bringing the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, then removing from the heat and allowing to sit until room temp.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven to preheat as well.
- To make the topping, combine the flour, flax seed, and about 2 tbsp of the oats in the bowl of a food processor. Process until flax seeds are finely ground. Alternatively, grind the flax seeds only in a mortar & pestle or spice grinder. Transfer flour mixture to a large bowl and add remaining oats, nuts, salt and pepper. Toss well to mix. Add melted butter and toss with a fork to blend; mold the topping into 4 or 5 patties with your hands, laying patties flat on a clean plate, then place in the freezer for at least 10 minutes.
- To make the filling, strain the macerated fruit, collecting the syrup in a medium saucepan. Transfer the strained fruit to a 9-inch pie dish. Toss fruit with the cornstarch until it disappears. Bring the rhubarb-cherry syrup to a boil over high heat; continue boiling for 3 – 5 minutes until juice is reduced somewhat and syrupy. Pour over the fruit in the pie plate. Remove topping from the freezer and crumble over the top of the fruit, including a mix of large and small pieces.
- Bake, on the rimmed baking sheet, until the topping is a rich golden brown and the juices are thickly bubbling, about 45 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.
- Reducing the fruit juice prior to baking the crumble aids in keeping the gluten-free crumble topping from becoming soggy: the resulting topping was crisp, with intact larger & smaller crumbles.
- According to Kate, the ginger flavor was nice; there, but subtle. I suspect you could double the amount to 2 tbsp without it becoming overwhelming.
- The ginjinha was added for depth of flavor; you can easily omit it, or replace with port wine, fruit juice or ginger beer.
At room temperature, covered with a clean kitchen towel, for up to 3 days.
Late Spring, or year-round with frozen fruit.