Monday, June 4, 2012

Rhubarb Cometh...Once More!!

Soon after my little family of four moved to the city we now call home, I was given an armful of rhubarb by a lovely lady we call Ms. Irma. I had little history with rhubarb to that point in my cooking career so upon receipt of the strange red stalks, I looked in cookbook after cookbook for some direction and found a recipe for Rhubarb Cream Pie which was a hit with my son who inhaled most of the pie single-handedly. I especially enjoyed the tart taste that the rhubarb added to the pie in contrast to the cream.

The next year, Ms. Irma gave me more rhubarb, and the next year still more and a tradition was born. Rhubarb wasn't the only thing Ms. Irma provided to that new-to-town gal. I am not a newspaper reader and have never aspired to be one--but Ms. Irma, oh she had it covered. Her newspaper was surely black and white and read all over, as the old joke goes. Out of her news-knowledge, she kept me posted on the current events and activities that were available to me and my family in our new town.

Just as I was getting all settled into the yearly rhubarb rhythm, and spoiled by receiving my local news in a personalized-just-for-me fashion, Ms. Irma became MRS. Irma and high-tailed it out of town in a cloud of wedded bliss... rhubarb, newspaper clippings and all!

I've been fairly rhubarb-less since then...until...

...a certain Mrs. Harris stepped in and made a generous offer of strawberries and rhubarb!

Yes pleeeeeeeaaaassssseeeee and...


By the time the rhubarb was delivered to my driveway {thanks delivery guy!} I'd come across an interesting recipe involving rhubarb and strawberries that looked like fun but carried a sophisticated -sounding name: Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote.

Unsure of compote, I looked it up...

Compote: In the culinary arts a compote is a recipe consisting of some sort of fruit, fresh or dried, that has been stewed in a syrup of sugar and other seasonings. (

Sounds pretty simple, I can stew and I'm very well acquainted with sugar. My next problem was that the recipe instructed me to place my rhubarb in a non-reactive pan. I knew a reactive pan was one made of metal of some sort, but what kind? Did that include all metal or only certain kinds? I didn't know, so I looked it up too. 

According to non-reactive pans include stainless steel and ceramic pans. When a recipe calls for the use of a non-reactive pan, the issue is one of acid. A reactive pan (one made of non-stainless steel, cast iron, aluminum, and copper) will react when it comes into contact with acidic foods like tomatoes and lemon juice and rhubarb. When this reaction occurs, food will  taste like metal.

Meet my Grandma Benson's green bean pot...ceramic, non-reactive, and the most lovely shade of blue! 

Now to the rhubarb compote.  

Rinse about five stalks of rhubarb well with cold water and chop off both ends. 
Discard the ends and chop it into 1 inch pieces (give or take).

Toss it into your non-reactive pot.

Next, add a generous cup of your jewel-red strawberries, cutting larger ones in half.

To the berries and rhubarb, add 1 cup plus two tablespoons of sugar...

...and a generous teaspoon of vanilla.

Stir well and heat to a simmer. 

Turn heat to low, and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft.

Remove from heat and allow mixture cool to room temperature.
Your compote will thicken as it cools until it is much like jam but a bit more spreadable.

Now, you are a compote aficionado! 

Pour your compote into a jar or other lidded container and keep in the fridge. In addition to dressing up bread and butter, this compote is a great addition to oatmeal or yogurt and, as is described in the original recipe, it makes a bright, happy topping for pancakes and waffles!

Thank you, Mrs. Harris for filling in for Mrs. you by chance get the newspaper for my town?

Rhubarb-Strawberry Compote
{Printable via The Sassy Radish here}

1 pound (5-6 stalks) rhubarb chopped into 1 inch slices
1 generous cup strawberries, capped and larger ones halved
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 generous teaspoon vanilla

Place rhubarb, strawberries, sugar and vanilla in a non-reactive pot. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat and continue simmering until rhubarb becomes very soft. Remove from heat and allow compote to cool to room temperature. Compote will thicken as it cools. Place in a glass jar or plastic container and refrigerate!  Enjoy on pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, biscuits, yogurt or simply...on a spoon!

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