Strawberry Rhubarb Bars

Not only is it asparagus season in Michigan, it is also rhubarb season. Did you know that, although it is most typically used in pies and bars and other sweet dishes, rhubarb is actually a vegetable? I have lots of positive rhubarb associations. My grandmother used to make a rhubarb soup and served it over rice pudding (riisipuuro). After raspberry, my Dad’s favorite pie was strawberry rhubarb. And, as a child, I remember picking a stalk of rhubarb and eating it with salt. In Finland, tender sticks of rhubarb dipped in sugar, are a common and affordable sweet treat for children. Rhubarb is also used to make sima, a Finnish wine. Another interesting factoid…in the UK, the first rhubarb of the season is harvested by candlelight in forcing sheds where all other light is excluded, a practice that produces a sweeter, more tender stalk. Rhubarb varies in color from dark red, to pink, to light green. I have always been told that rhubarb leaves are poisonous, although in all of my years of watching true murder shows on tv, I have yet to learn of anyone meeting their demise by being fed rhubarb leaves.

It is not yet strawberry season here in Michigan, but these bars would undoubtedly be even better with sweet Michigan berries.

Ingredients:

2 cups of diced rhubarb

2 cups of diced strawberries

Juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)

1/2 cup sugar

2 T corn starch

1 1/2 cups AP flour

1 1/2 cups old fashion oats

1 cup brown sugar

12 T unsalted butter melted

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

Once you have diced and measured 2 cups each of rhubarb and strawberries combine them, along with the lemon juice, in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the fruit is tender, about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the fruits (and vegetables) are cooking, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. Once the rhubarb is tender, stir in the sugar and cornstarch and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened. Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool down while you prepare the base and topping.

Preheat your oven to 350. In a large bowl measure out the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt.

Add the melted butter and vanilla. Use a wooden spoon or a hand mixer on low speed to combine all the ingredients.

Set aside 1 1/2 cups for the topping and press the remaining oat and flour mixture into a 9×13 pan lined with parchment.

Spread the strawberry rhubarb mixture over the base.

Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups of the flour and oat mixture over the filling. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Once they’ve cooled, cut and enjoy just as is or with a dollop of whipping cream or ice cream. You get both the sweet and tart flavors in these bars.

Enjoy!

NOTE: I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t make these using a combination of raspberries and rhubarb or rhubarb on its own. If you use rhubarb without the berries taste test after cooking and adding sugar. Add additional sugar if necessary.

Rhubarb, Strawberry, Apple Crisp

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After making three batches of strawberry jam I had strawberries left and I decided to make a crisp with berries, rhubarb and apples. One of my dad’s and my daughter’s favorite pies is strawberry rhubarb so I know they have both loved this dessert.  Easy to make and great served warm with some ice cream or fresh whipping cream.

Ingredients:

3 cups diced rhubarb

2 cups strawberries hulled and halved

1 cup peeled and diced apple

1 cup granulated sugar

3 T flour

zest of one lemon

1 tsp cinnamon

fresh grated nutmeg

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup brown sugar packed

1 cup old fashioned oats

1 cup melted butter

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Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl combine fruit, granulated sugar, lemon zest and 3 T flour. Toss to combine and pour into an 8×10 baking dish.

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In the same bowl you tossed the fruit around in add the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, and butter for the crisp and mix to combine.

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Using your hands crumble the crisp ingredients over the fruit.

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Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes. The fruit should be bubbling and the crisp should be a golden brown.

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No pictures of us enjoying this dessert. Shortly after it came out of the oven I covered it with foil, wrapped it in a bath towel and took it to a friend’s house for dessert. It was amazing if I do say so myself. My Dad and daughter would have been in dessert heaven. I whipped up some fresh cream and brought it along to top the crisp.

NOTE:  I learned a simple and time saving tip for whipping cream from one of my many food magazines.   If you have an immersion blender put the heavy cream and a little granulated sugar into a quart jar and after a few spins of the immersion blender you have perfect whipped cream. No cream splatter on the counter and easy to store in the fridge or transport to serve with dessert.