Spring has sprung and summer is on its way! Vibrant stalks of rhubarb have begun to poke their heads out of the ground and are starting to make their first appearances at local markets. This fruit pie favorite, which is actually a vegetable, ranges in color from pale green with pink speckles to fully pink as well as rich, dark red. The color is a result of the variety of plant and is not an indicator of quality or sourness – popular myth at work! Hothouse rhubarb is first to hit grocery stores, but its flavor pales in comparison to our local farmers’ crop or those grown in backyards. Never fear – those delicious specimens will be ready to grace your favorite dish soon, with rhubarb’s peak season upon us!
Rhubarb is almost always sweetened and cooked in some form, as it is tart tart tart! It bears the nickname “pie plant” because of its most common use in desserts.
Every spring and early summer, my grandmother had a pan of tart-and-sweet rhubarb stewing. We used to have it for breakfast to top our oatmeal or spoon up on our toast. My recipe inspired by Grandma Mimi is a heavenly Roasted Rhubarb Honey Mousse! Sliced rhubarb is tossed with sugar and then slow-roasted to a syrupy goodness. Then it’s chilled and folded with honey-sweetened whipped cream. (You can roast the rhubarb the day ahead and finish off the mousse the day of serving.)
But rhubarb isn’t just for dessert it makes a wonderful addition to cocktails, too! Why not try my Rhubarb Collins, the perfect refreshing crowd-pleaser for your next backyard party! (Make the Rhubarb syrup up to 4-days in advance). You can also leave out the vodka and add more soda water for a tasty DIY soda and non-alcoholic sipper.
A tasty Rhubarb Collins
So invite over some friend this holiday weekend – plan a potluck so everyone can share in the work, or grill up something local and easy.
While the sun goes down—spoon dreamy Roasted Rhubarb Honey Mousse slowly on to your tongue, or sip a cool snazzy Rhubarb Collins —and you may just think you live in the best place on earth. – Kathy
Roasted Rhubarb Honey Mousse
Makes 6 servings
1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (4 cups)
1 cup sugar
1 small package (3 ounces) cream cheese
5 Tbsp. honey
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
Garnishes: Whipped cream, edible flowers
Preheat an oven to 375°F.
Toss the rhubarb and sugar together in a large bowl, then spread in a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Roast, uncovered, for about 45 minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft and the syrup is slightly caramelized. Stir thoroughly and carefully after the first 20 minutes.
Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled. (You can do this up to one day ahead- just keep refrigerated.)
Whip the cream cheese with 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of the honey in a mixer until very fluffy. Transfer to a large bowl and fold in the chilled rhubarb mixture. Whip the cream with the remaining 1 tablespoon of honey until firmly peaked. Stir about one third of the whipped cream into the rhubarb mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whipped cream.
Dish up into 6 pretty glasses. Refrigerate until ready to serve, then top, if desired, with a little plain whipped cream and an edible spring flower, such as a pansy, or petals of apple, pear, or plum blossoms.
Chef’s Note: If selecting edible flowers from your yard, be sure that they are edible and have not been sprayed with pesticide or other chemicals. Rinse all blossoms thoroughly.
Recipe ©Kathy Casey Food Studios®
Makes 1 cocktail
For a non-alcoholic cooler delete the vodka and just add more soda water.
This drink is also delicious with a dash of fresh strawberry puree. I also like to garnish it with a small sprig of thyme and a lemon wedge.
1 1/2 ounces Organic Vodka, such as Moon Mountain
1 1/2 ounce Rhubarb Syrup (recipe follows)
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 ounces soda water, chilled
Measure the vodka, Rhubarb Syrup and lemon into a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake vigorously.
Pour into a tall Collins glass. Add soda water and stir. Garnish with a lemon wedge and thyme if desired.
Makes 2 1/2 cups – or about 12 servings
2 cups sliced rhubarb
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
Combine rhubarb and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Then add sugar and bring back to a boil. Remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes. Then strain through a fine mesh strainer, pressing all juices out well. Keep refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.
Recipe ©Kathy Casey Food Studios® – Liquid Kitchen™
Kathy Casey is a celebrity chef, mixologist and entertaining expert. She is known as a pioneer in the bar-chef movement. Catch Kathy on Twitter (@KathyCaseyChef), Dishing with Kathy Casey Blog www.kathycasey.com/blog, on Small Screen Network or find Sips & Apps on Facebook.