Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Rhubarb Crumble with Creme Fraiche

Rhubarb is one of those foods that I have always associated with cold weather climates. When I lived in Minnesota it seemed like every yard and garden plot had a rhubarb patch, whether you liked it or not. If you're a hater of the plant and a gardener you know how hard it is to get rid of it. But I wondered if I would find any available here in the California southland. Imagine my delight when I came across some in the farmers' market and snatched some up for this delicious treat.

While Rhubarb is most often used in dessert I wasn't sure if it was considered a fruit or a vegetable. Surprise! It is neither but simple the stalk of a plant. I suppose that would make it similar to celery but since you cannot eat the leaves of Rhubarb I suppose that categorization doesn't work. Either way, this is quick and easy and so good.

In case you've never had the opportunity to eat or make creme fraiche you need to do so immediately. There are so many reasons to recommend it that I have to leave you with a list.

1) Creme Fraiche is both tart (the fermentation) and sweet (the heavy cream) so it pairs so well with desserts that need a little creaminess or a little tart to temper the sweet.

2) Since the cream is fermented it's easier to digest.

3) It's better than sour cream since it doesn't separate and cooks like cream while providing some lift to a dish.

4) Making it is so easy and fun to make (great for introducing kids to DIY) since it is something of a chemistry experiment watching the fermentation process.

Creme Fraiche
Combine 2 tablespoons buttermilk with 1 quart of cream in glass jar with a lid. Set out at room temperature for at least 24 hours. Check after 24 hours to see how thick creme has become. Once it appears that entire liquid has fermented into thickened cream, refrigerate for at least 12 hours. Keep refrigerated.

Rhubarb Crumble with Creme Fraiche

8 stalks rhubarb, cut in 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup oat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut butter into oat flour until fairly well mixed. Add rolled oats, brown sugar, cardamom and salt and continue mixing with your fingertips until butter is evenly distributed and mixture begins to clump. Place rhubarb pieces in bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of sugar until well coated. Spread in baking pan large enough to accommodate rhubarb in almost single layer. Sprinkle crumble on top and dot with 2 tablespoons of cut up butter. Bake for 40 minutes until top is browned. Allow to rest for 5 minutes and serve with Creme Fraiche, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.


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