I hope Garrison Keillor doesn’t come after me for that one, but it makes a great start to a weekend feature. We have our first rhubarb of the season from Harmony Valley Farm in Wisconsin, and it looks great! I’ve never been one of the strawberry-rhubarb people, preferring to let each ingredient shine brightly for itself. I’m also rhubarb’s #1 fan, so I like to bake up rhubarb pie with the full-on rhubarb punch.
We’ve baked Harmony Valley’s rhubarb into some lovely tarts with a butter streusel topping. We’ve also found that organic virgin palm oil gives us a crust that mimicks the exquisite texture of a lard crust without shutting out our many vegetarian friends. Enjoying the flavor of butter, we use half butter and half palm oil for the crust, and it comes out real nice. The filling doesn’t get much but a little sugar, and a magical ratio of flour and cornstarch to thicken the filling up just so. No vanilla, lemon, or spices. Just rhubarb, save for a whisper of cinnamon in the streusel topping.
Liking something creamy to go with the rhubarb, I wrestled with the idea of something other than vanilla that would complement, or dance, with the rhubarb, rather than fighting it or withering under its intense flavor. It seemed to just ante up the vanilla a little might be the way to go, and I pulled out something from deep in the annals of Southern cooking: Brown Sugar Ice Cream. Simple, elegant, delicious. Brown sugar is an important flavoring component in proper butter pecan ice cream, but it’s never seen on its own as ice cream in these parts. We do leave just a hint of vanilla in the recipe, and Kalona Organics milk and New Century eggs ensure a rich treat.
So after we served the first one yesterday, I approached the table when the plate was cleared, and before I could inquire, she let out: “the best thing I have eaten in my life.” Now, that’s an endorsement!