dimanche 18 mai 2008

Rhubarb Muffins

I spotted rhubarb in our garden the other day and immediately had visions of being in my maternal grandmother’s garden. She had a rhubarb patch at the side of her house in Greenock, Scotland. Gran Blair treated my brother and me to rhubarb stalks and paper cones of sugar for dipping. Rhubarb is tart and the sugar made the green and red stalks edible. Quite exotic for two kids who grew up in Canada and had probably only ever eaten cooked rhubarb.

Rhubarb falls into the “Is it a fruit or a vegetable?” category. It is a vegetable that is used as a fruit. It is one of the 1st food plants ready to be harvested in spring, generally in April/May in the northern hemisphere. Rhubarb needs a cold winter period and only grows in colder climates. Rhubarb has huge green leaves and tall stalks. Only the stalks are edible.
Rhubarb is one product I don’t think about buying but rather picking it from the garden. My mother generally stewed rhubarb and served on its own or over vanilla ice cream or used it as pie filling. Rhubarb is often mixed with other fruit like strawberries or apples to offset the tartness. Rhubarb is great in jams, jellies, muffins, cookies, crumbles and other baked goods. Although I have never tasted it, rumour has it, that it makes a great sauce for poultry, venison and fish. Something I will have to try now that I have access to a supply in the garden.

Rhubarb Muffins
Makes 12
125 mL (1/2 cup) crème fraîche
50 mL (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
1 large egg
300 mL (1-1/4 cups) flour
250 mL (1 cup) fresh rhubarb, diced
80 mL (1/3 cup) brown sugar
2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) baking soda
1 mL (1/4 tsp) salt

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
Blend together crème fraîche, oil and egg in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, rhubarb, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir in crème fraîche mixture. Drop into paper-lined (or greased) muffin tins. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until browned and firm to the touch.

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