Casual summer meals…al fresco!
Rhubarb generally appears in spring and flourishes throughout the summer months in the northern hemisphere. Originating from the Himalayas, Tibet, China, and Mongolia, rhubarb made its way to Europe with Marco Polo, and from there the Americas. Who knew! Rhubarb was just a large plant that pops up in the garden every spring and routinely cooked up into jams, sauces, and of course cobblers, without even a thought about its colorful origins.
Rhubarb has its devotees as well as those who recoil at the very thought of its astringent flavor, but with thoughtful preparation it can be downright delicious and healthy to boot. Rhubarb is rich in fiber, anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which may convince some of its naysayers to give it a second thought.
The most popular variety is the ruby red stemmed rhubarb, but the green stemmed variety has essentially the same flavor, although not as visually enticing. For the recipe that follows I referenced Nancy Silverton’s recipe for rhubarb cobbler from the Pastries from the La Brea Bakery, with a few adaptations, including using some lingonberries which I happened to have in the freezer, instead of the usual strawberry option, to add some color to the green rhubarb that is available here in Thailand.
Rhubarb Lingonberry Cobbler: Serves 6-8
Rhubarb Lingonberry Compote:
- 1 ¼ pounds rhubarb stems, cut into 2 inch/5cm batons
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 small stick cinnamon
- 2 black peppercorns, ground
- ¼ cup white wine(or water)
- ¼ pound/130grams lingonberries
Examine the rhubarb and remove any tough stings from the ribs and cut as described above.
In a large skillet, stir the sugar and water together and add the cinnamon stick and pepper. Turn the heat on to medium high and bring to a boil. Once the sugar melts, begin to swirl the pan as the mixture begins to caramelize. Continue until the mixture is a light caramel color. Remove the skillet from the heat promptly.
Add the rhubarb to the caramelized sugar and toss to coat evenly. There will be some initial spattering so be careful!
Return the skillet to the stove, again over medium high heat. When it begins to bubble pour in the wine (or water) and cook, stirring gently, for 6 to 10 minutes or just until the rhubarb is soft, but still intact. Add the lingonberries and stir in evenly and remove from the heat promptly. Stir in the vanilla, remove the cinnamon stick, and transfer the mixture to a lightly buttered baking dish.
Set aside to cool while you prepare the biscuit topping.
Preheat oven to 375F/190C with the rack set to the middle position in the oven.
Biscuit Cobbler Topping:
- 1 cup + 1 tablespoon/2 ½ oz unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar + more for sprinkling
- ¼ cup corn meal + extra for sprinkling
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 hard boiled eggs, yolks only
- ½ cup Greek yogurt + more for brushing
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and cook for several minutes until it is lightly browned. Remove from the heat and allow cooling for a minute or so, then stir in the vanilla extract. Transfer to a small bowl, being careful to avoid adding any dark solids left in the bottom of the pan, and place in the refrigerator to harden.
Using a food processor fitted with a steal blade, add the flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, ¼ cup cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Pulse the ingredients a few times to mix. Push the egg yolks though a strainer into the flour mixture and pulse until mixed into the flour mixture.
Using a small spoon, add small scoops of the hardened browned butter evenly distributed over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles a course meal. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and make a well in the center and add the yogurt. Using your hands, gradually work the dry ingredients into the yogurt until just combined and holding together.
Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times until the dough comes together into a ball. Pat the dough out into a circle about ¼ inch/3/4cm in thickness. Using a 2 inch/5cm diameter round cutter, cut out the biscuits, placing them next to each other over the surface of the rhubarb compote leaving a little space around the edge of the baking dish. Brush the tops of the biscuits with yogurt and sprinkle the tops with corn meal and sugar. You may have a few extra biscuits that you can bake off for next days breakfast!
Turn the oven down to 350F/180C and place the cobbler in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the biscuits are nicely browned and the fruit has bubbled up around the biscuits.
Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack and cool until the cobbler reaches room temperature before serving or refrigerating.
Serving: Serve at room temperature with a good dollop of Greek yogurt… or indulge yourself with a scoop of best quality vanilla ice cream, which is an indulgence worth every spoon full!