One of my favorite childhood flavors is Rhubarb. It was practically a weed on our Midwest farm. Every year we planted all types of vegetables, but never rhubarb (yes, it is a vegetable), because it was always just there. Now, when I see rhubarb at the market or in the stores in Los Angeles, my heart skips a beat. Although rhubarb pie is my favorite, I am learning to prepare it in ways that really lets the rhubarb’s true character shine through.
I learned this from Deborah Madison, award-winning author of fourteen cookbooks. She is known for her seasonal, vegetable-based cooking. In her latest book, In My Kitchen, Deborah’s simple approach to cooking really lets the vegetable’s flavor be the star.
I gleaned so much from Deborah as she spoke at Melissa’s Produce media luncheon and book signing event. Once home, I continued by devouring her useful information and 100+ inviting recipes.
Her book In My Kitchen starts out with great tips for working with vegetable dishes.
Some of my favorites include;
- How to coax flavor out of sweet vegetables with caramelizing.
- What good fats are and how to use them effectively for achieving great flavors.
- How foods and flavors work together by preserving, deepening and extending the flavor of foods.
- How different levels of acid in vinegar work in proportion to oil in a dressing.
Deborah explains when you taste a finished soup/stew and think it needs salt, what it really needs is a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice to bring up the flavors and get them into alignment. She also spells out how to compose a vegetarian meal and how to bring dinner together. Everything in this book is enlightening.
Whether you are vegan, vegetarian or carnivore, her creations are delightful as main or side dishes.
Here were a few of the recipes we sampled from In My Kitchen.
Citrus & Avocado with Lime-Cumin Vinaigrette & Shredded Greens pg. 94
Baked Ricotta Infused with Thyme pg. 215
Potato and Chickpea Stew with Sautéed Spinach pg. 192
Hearty Lentil Minestrone with Kale pg. 144
Walnut Nugget Cookies pg. 264
Rhubarb-Raspberry Compote pg. 210
The dish above brings us today’s recipe.
I made this recipe with in-season blood oranges but any orange will do. I used raspberries as in the recipe, but she also suggested using blackberries.
You can spoon it over yogurt or ice cream, on top of mini gingersnap cookies with creamy blue cheese for a mind-blowing appetizer, eat it plain when no one is looking. I chose to layer it with labneh (ultra-strained, lightly salty, Middle Eastern yogurt “cheese”) and crushed graham crackers for a gorgeous petite dessert.
- 1 pound or more, red rhubarb, the ends trimmed
- ½ cup maple sugar or organic white sugar
- Zest and juice of 1 orange (I used blood orange)
- 2 cloves
- 1 cup whole raspberries, fresh or frozen, plus broken or smashed fruit
- Black pepper, freshly ground
- Slice the rhubarb stalks on the diagonal ½-inch thick or a little thicker, and put them in a bowl with the sugar, orange zest, and juice. Toss well and let stand for a good hour or more. (This draws out the juices, but skip this step and just go ahead and cook it if that works better for your schedule.)
- Slide the macerated rhubarb into a shallow pan and set it over medium-high heat. Once the juice has come out and begins to boil, add the cloves, lower the heat, and simmer
- gently until the rhubarb is tender. If you have little broken pieces of frozen raspberries or somewhat smashed fresh ones, add them now.
- Once the rhubarb is tender but hopefully still holding its shape, turn off the heat and fold in the raspberries. Chill, then add a bit of ground pepper over the top. It should keep well, refrigerated, for about a week.
To make the dessert start with a couple of tablespoons of labneh or Greek yogurt in the bottom of a 4-ounce serving dish.
Add a crumbled gingersnap cookie and top with the Rhubarb Raspberry Compote.
Top with a fresh mint leaf.
Note: If you like your desserts sweeter, add sugar or honey (to taste) into to the labneh or use vanilla yogurt.
Deborah’s book is full of culinary wisdom which I am continually drawing from.
…and then, she paused for thought.
Disclaimer: I was given a copy of Deborah Madison’s cookbook In My Kitchen to cook with. All opinions are my own. This post may contain Amazon affiliate links for your convenience, at no additional cost to you.