Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My old/new love.

Irrelevant photo #1. Alex and Evelyn checking out the magnolias at the Arboretum.

You don't look like much, but I love you just the same.

Bad photo with flash. Look! She's showing her sweet vanilla custard layer!
I have a "thing" for rhubarb. Every year I scour the farmers market stalls for the tender, sour stalks, like an eagle surveying the fields for it's prey. I was lucky enough to find some on Saturday and promptly bought 8 pounds.
I realized how much I had really bought when I got home and half of it was enough to fill 7 quart jars with sauce. I chopped and covered the rest with sugar and forgot about it for two days on the bottom shelf in the fridge. When I pulled it out last night, the rhubarb had given off a ton of water, though the little slices still looked crisp. I drained the rhubarb and figured a fruit crisp would be a great way to get rid of the rest of it. Except that I don't like fruit crisps. If I wanted a bowl of fruit for dessert, an apple is much more appealing to me.
My grandmother makes this amazing dessert called "rhubarb dream dessert", which is little slices of rhubarb bathed in eggy vanilla custard perched on top of a powdered sugar crust and topped with clouds of meringue. Not being a big fan of meringue (sorry Hannah), and the crust seemed like too much of a bother, so I whipped up the custard, threw in the rhubarb and decided that the crumb topping of a crisp would be just the thing for the lid. Let me tell you, I have eaten half the pan by myself. It's heaven on a spoon. And great mixed with plain yogurt...

Rhubarb Custard Crisp

Custard layer:
6 egg yolks
2 c. sugar (yes, really)
2T. flour
1/2 c. milk
a vanilla bean, split and scraped (you could sub 1t. vanilla extract)
a pinch of salt
4 c. of rhubarb

1/2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. flour (your choice here, whole wheat pastry flour might be a nice, nutty alternative)
1/3 c. dark brown sugar, packed
1/8 t. baking soda
1/4. t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. cold butter, split

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, milk, flour, salt and vanilla bean, whisk in the rhubarb. Pour into a 9x13 pan. Mix together oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt for the topping. Cut in half the butter (like pie crust). Sprinkle topping over custard. Melt the other half-stick of butter and sprinkle that over the topping. Bake at 350 anywhere between 30 and 50 minutes. My oven is slow, so it took 50 minutes. Check if the center is set by jiggling the pan. If the center still jiggles around a lot, slide it back in for another 10 minutes, or so.


Bella said...

Jess, I've never understood what "vanilla bean scraped" means! Could you explain? I think this recipe sounds divine! I haven't had rhubarb anything in a good six years! Your grandmother's recipe sounds good too only I'm like you, I"m not a merengue fan. I love Evelyn's glasses! :)

Jess said...

Vanilla bean scraped is slicing the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scraping out the microscopic brown seeds with the back of a knife. You use the seeds and can either throw the pod away, or bury it in your sugar jar, resulting in vanilla sugar. :) I hope that helps! I love Evelyn's glasses too... kids love the strangest junk sometimes. :)

Hannah said...

Whee, yummy new post! I've grown up with my mum's apple rhubarb crumbles, which are divine, but I LOVE the idea of a custard versions!

Bella said...

Jess, thank you for the explanation! I like the idea of vanilla sugar! I am going to try it! Also, I've run out of real vanilla. Can I use the vanilla bean instead?

Jess said...

Bella: Yes, you can. :)

Hannah: Apple rhubarb sounds divine! In the US we seem to be partial to the strawberry rhubarb combo, which I am not keen on.

Kaitlin said...

I love rhubarb too! I need to get some and make one of my fave desserts.

Rowena... said...

What timing is this! I've got a bunch of rhubarb growing out back but waiting til the stalks turn really red before I pick them. I haven't even given a thought as to what to do with them, but the mention of eggy custard and a crumb topping sounds like just the ticket.

Hannah said...

I'm with you on being less-than-enthused about the strawberry-rhubarb combo. I think because I don't really like the squidgy texture of cooked strawberries!