Monday, June 3, 2013

Rainy Weekend in Chicagolandia with Rhubarb and Strawberries

Chicagolandia was pretty wet this past weekend and our temperatures dropped quite a bit on Sunday to 60 degrees.  Good news is that I have not had to water my plants for over two weeks and I just recently found out that thunderstorms are good for your garden because of the nitrogen in the lightening.  For those gardeners out there who are rolling eyes and saying, "DUH" right now, I am sorry.  I didn't know this and I was all, "Who knew?"  Bad news is that my dog freaks out with thunder and lightening, as most dogs do, and I have been comforting her like a traumatized baby over the past couple weeks.  

Freaked Out Storm Dog
I was also able to make this rhubarb tart with the about to go bad rhubarb I picked up at the Farmers Market.  Although I like the traditional Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, I thought this recipe was a sophisticated take on a rhubarb dessert that had a delicate taste with undertones of orange and cardamom that complimented the rhubarb and strawberries.

Rhubarb Curd Shortbread Tart with Fresh Strawberries
Slightly adapted from "Cook This Now", by Melissa Clark
Yield: 6 to 8 Servings

Ingredients for the Shortbread Tart Crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, plus additional for serving
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest (1 big orange)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 teaspoon ground cardamom
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes

For the Rhubarb Curd
10 ounces rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
4 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chopped into pieces

About 2 cups strawberries, hulled and halved, or thickly sliced if large

1.  To make the crust, place the flour, confectioners' sugar, orange zest, salt and cardamom in the bowl of a food processor with the blade attachment and pulse to combine.  Add the butter and run the motor just until a crumbly dough forms. (I added a a couple tablespoons of water here because the crumbles were not happening.  The water pulled it together and I had an easier time pressing it into the tart pan).
2.  Scrape the dough into a 9-inch tart pan.  Use your fingers or a spatula to press the dough into and up the sides of the pan.  Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
3.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line the tart dough with a sheet of foil and fill with pie weights if you have them.  You can also use dried beans.  Bake until golden in color, 35 to 40 minutes.
4.  While the crust is baking, prepare the curd.  Puree the rhubarb in a food processor until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes (add a few teaspoons of water if necessary to help the rhubarb move, though try to keep this at a minimum so it does not dilute the rhubarb juice).  Pour into a bowl lined with cheesecloth and squeeze out the juice with your hands, discarding the pulp.  You should get about 2/3 cup of juice.
5.  In a double boiler with 2 inches of simmering water, combine the rhubarb juice, sugar, egg yolks, eggs and salt.  Stir constantly, with a whisk, making sure to scrape the bottom and the sides, while the liquid thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 18 to 20 minutes.  Remove from the heat and whisk in butter until dissolved.
6.  Strain the curd through a fine mesh sieve.
7.  When the crust is ready, take it out of the oven, remove the foil and pie weights, and lower the temperature to 300 degrees.  Spread the rhubarb curd into the tart shell and smooth with a spatula.  Bake for another 10 minutes, until the curd is just set.  Transfer the tart to a wire rack to cool completely, at least 1 hour.
8.  Just before serving, scatter the strawberries over the tart and sift confectioners' sugar.  You can serve this immediately but I thought the flavor was even better the next day.

  •  The confectioners' sugar dissolved after a day on the tart but that can obviously be freshened up or put on prior to serving. 
  • I found this went especially well with tea more so than coffee.  

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