Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Mamma's Perfect Rhubarb Crisp

Since there are just a few more days until Igor Stravinsky's birthday, (because yes, I AM a music nerd like that), I thought I'd post the quintessential "Rite of Spring" recipe from the Tofu Mom household... My Mamma's Rhubarb Crisp. Russia was one of the first countries to use the plant's stalks, cooked with sweetener, as a dessert item. Perhaps Igor enjoyed rhubarb crisp as he composed?

History aside, this is also posted for my oldest Sprout, who has decided to abandon the Tofu household for a summer job in Alaska. The nerve.

Jessika: look closely at this picture, because unless you learn to make this yourself, you'll be missing out on our family's treasured recipe for rhubarb crisp!!!

This recipe has been a family favorite since long before I could hold a kitchen knife, and it's one of those things I assumed everyone had their own variation on. Long ago, foolishly thinking I might "improve" on a classic, I searched the Interwebs for a "better" rhubarb crisp recipe. I was so mistaken! And I discovered many others in search of the perfect recipe as well... Recipe websites and cooking-whatever-dot-com had selection after selection of seemingly great-sounding recipes for rhubarb this and rhubarb that - accompanied by tons and tons of complaints from the cooking public because said recipes were unsatisfactory: too runny, too sweet, too tangy, too mushy, too dry, too complicated, too many ingredients, too everything.

I have no idea where my Mom got the recipe, but I do know it's really simple and really good!! And "accidentally" vegan too! You need to try it. Even people who didn't think they like rhubarb have become converts.
I didn't realize how dissatisfied the rest of the world was with their rhubarb recipes until I made this as an adult, and friends started begging for this recipe, saying it was "perfect".
And I tend to agree. Simple and perfect! I don't like my rhubarb mucked up with lime or coconut or even strawberries. I don't like nuts or molasses or other funky ingredients in the topping. I don't like it too runny or to dry. If you're anything like me (and apparently lots of other rhubarb-purists) , this will be the perfect dessert for you! If you want to add cinnamon or cherries or celery, that's up to you...

My Mamma's Perfect Rhubarb Crisp

4 - 5 cups diced rhubarb (depending on how sweet you want it)
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. and 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup water
1 - 2 drops vanilla

1/2 cup (1 cube) margarine
1 cup flour (whole wheat is OK here, though makes it a bit heavier)
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and cornstarch. Add water and cook over med high, stirring with wire whisk until mixture bubbles and thickens. Don't let it splatter!

In medium bowl, cut margarine into flour with pastry blender or fork, until blended. Add sugar and oats. Mix well. Put half the topping in a 2 quart baking dish. (I have no idea how big this is, just a flat baking dish that looks like everything will fit).

Add diced rhubarb and pour sauce over. Add rest of topping. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes. (Cover with foil if topping gets too brown. If the pan is very full, it will bubble over and make a mess in your oven. Just sayin'...).

Enjoy. And Happy Summer (not spring any more, I guess, huh?!).


Catherine Weber said...

I make a fruit crisp recipe very similar to yours, and I agree -- simpler is better! Let the fruit shine through, and keep the topping to a minimum. MMMM!

Jen said...

I'm not a big rhubarb fan, but I think I could try this. I've had it with strawberry, and just wasn't that impressed. Hmmmmm....

Sarah E. Hoffman said...

the family recipe for these types of dishes are always best! tradition rocks!