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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Rhubarb & Strawberry Delight

Rhubarb is generally cooked and prepared like fruits -- but it is actually a vegetable.  I call it pucker food due to its tartness.  

Only the stalk which looks like celery, is edible.  Loaded with vitamin A and C, potassium and calcium.  Some even say it's a superfood for its ratio of health benefits to calories.  7 calories per 100 grams. High levels of calcium means it is a fat-free alternative to dairy products which lowers cholesterol and it actually speeds up metabolism.  

The leaves are toxic as they are loaded with oxalic acid.  So you don't cook rhubarb in aluminium, copper or iron pan as the rhubarb will turn brownish and the pan discolors. The toxicity is not wasted as it may be used as pesticide. Just boil a bunch of leaves with water, let cool, sieve and use as spray on plants.  

This 'vegetable' is often used in cakes, tarts, jams, sauces as well as compote.  

Here is one of my favourite -- rhubarb strawberry compote with fresh cheese flavoured with limocello, a lemon liquor.

Ingredients for the rhubarb compote

  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
  • 500 g rhubarb, trimmed, washed and cut into 2cm chunks
  • 100 ml orange juice or water
  • 100 g caster sugar (more or less to own taste)
  • 100 g fresh strawberries, cleaned, hulled and halved.

Make the compote

  1. Place 4 tbsp caster sugar in a pan.
  2. Heat sugar over low heat.
  3. As soon as sugar is caramelized, add vanilla pod and orange juice.
  4. Simmer till caramel dissolves.
  5. Add rhubarb and low simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat, cover and set aside to chill.

Ingredients for the fresh cheese

  • 200 g fresh cheese (Quark)
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 100 g powdered sugar
  • 200 ml whipped cream
  • 1-2 tbsp Limoncello (optional)

Make the cheese

  1. Mix thoroughly cheese, lemon zest and powdered sugar.
  2. Carefully fold in whipped cream.
  3. Serve rhubarb compote in a bowl, with a good healthy scoup of cheese, dribbled over with limoncello.

Caramelized sugar with vanilla pod.

Add rhubarb and low simmer.

Add strawberries to chilled compote.

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