The sun is visiting Le Meadow’s Pantry this week, revealing the blossoms in the apple tree, drying the last blossoms in the cherry tree and, making the rhubarb blush.
There are still a lot of dandelions and bees in the field. Enough to make more dandelion nectar.
We use 365 flowers to make 5 jars. Why 365? To celebrate the 365 suns that have risen and set since last year’s spring.
Dandelion Nectar is as bright as the sun and taste as sweet as honey. It is simply spring in a jar.
We harvested the first rhubarb in our garden and made our first batches of rhubarb jam and a cake! More rhubarb is growing, but we won’t have enough to make all the jam we need for the market. We were delighted to learn that Camel’s Back Harvest in Pemberton will be able to supply Le Meadow’s Pantry this summer!
Rhubarb releasing it’s juice before we turn it into a luscious jam.
This is the cake my beloved grand-maman Irène used to make every spring with the first rhubarb from her garden. They also grew red and black current and gooseberries to make delicious jellies. The jars were kept sealed and served on cold days to brighten up the long winter back east.
Rhubarb upside down cake
~ I used a well-seasoned cast-iron pan skillet but a cake pan would work too.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar ~ I used sucanat sugar~
1 1/2 pounds rhubarb stalk, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces ~about 3 cups
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup brown sugar~ I used sucanat
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
Preheat oven at 350 F
Make the topping:
Heat butter in skillet gently until foam subsides. Reduce heat to low and sprinkle sugar and cook without stirring for 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and place rhubarb in one layer on sugar mixture. Set aside.
Make the cake:
1.In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients.
2.Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed, about 1 minute.
3.Add vanilla and almond extract to the sugar and butter and add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4.Reduce speed and add flour mixture alternately in batches with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
5.Mix until just combined.
Bake the cake:
1.Spoon cake batter over the rhubarb without disturbing the rhubarb.
2.Bake cake until golden and a wooden skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.
3.Cool in skillet on a rack for 15 minutes.
4.Run a thin knife around edge of skillet. Wearing oven mitts, invert a plate over skillet and, keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together, invert cake onto plate.
Rhubarb compote is one of the great classics. When the rhubarb is cook long enough to soften, but not too long to turn into purée, the flavours blend harmoniously while the natural acidity of the fruit fades away. The compote should have some pieces left with a dark pink hue.
To make the compote you will need:
4 cups rhubarb, ends trimmed and all traces of leaves removed, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 strip lemon rind
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1. In a large non reactive sauce pan, mix together the rhubarb, sugar, lemon rind and juice from the lemon. Let stand at room temperature until the rhubarb releases some juice, about one hour.
2.Bring the rhubarb mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, simmer, stirring gently until rhubarb is soft and some whole pieces remain, about 10- 15 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and cool completely before serving.
Ginger, orange, angelica, vanilla, cardamom and mint are the traditional flavorings for rhubarb, especially in jam-making. If you want to experiment with one of them, simply add it to the sauce pan at the start of the cooking time.
Dishes where you can use compote rhubarb: (other than the traditional rhubarb pie!)
Ricotta cheesecake with rhubarb compote
With a spoon straight from the jar
Vanilla yogurt , honey and rhubarb compote
Apple and rhubarb compote crisp
Rhubarb, strawberry and mint cobbler
Rhubarb compote, caramel and walnuts
Rhubarb compote and crème fraîche
The scarlet rhubarb with its large wavy-edged leaves is a vegetable, though it is usually eaten as a fruit. Wild rhubarb is native to Asia and rhubarb root has remained a prized medicinal herb for thousands of years. Rhubarb is one of the first vegetables to sprout in the spring bringing the traditional rhubarb pie, but it was not until the early 1800s that rhubarb recipes began to appear in cookbooks. Only the stalks are eaten. The leaves have been associated with cases of poisoning due to their high concentration of oxalic acid, and must not be eaten.