I try to bring you different kinds of recipes every week. But there are a few ingredients we are able to source so rarely that using those ingredients often during the short time they are available makes sense. Thus, another rhubarb recipe.
When we were younger, a visit to the produce aisle had little to offer: lettuce, tomatoes, onions, radishes, cucumbers - all from other regions. It seemed there was always some fruit, but, then again, fruit (including tomato, which is a fruit) was fresh and local only in the summer and early autumn.
Today we get cantaloupes in February, fresh herbs all winter, strawberries and fruit from Mexico and South America, clementines from Israel, citrus all year long and raspberries and blueberries any time we want them.
But you can't find rhubarb once this perennial is done its work, giving up its huge, thick, pink and green celery-like stalk. I buy as much as I can during the two months it is available. I mostly make desserts with it. This year, though, I will stew lots of it with sugar and freeze it. I will use it with the strawberries I also freeze, but also with the frozen strawberries and tiny frozen Maine blueberries I buy from Wyman's.
And I will thaw them to use as chutney with pork and lamb chops and big roasts when the snow is falling. For now, though, I will bake my friend Ann Bandazian's kuchen.
Absolutely the Best Strawberry Rhubarb Kuchen
From Ann Bandazian, who has had the recipe forever
Yield: serves 12
Grease a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish (I would use a glass one) with butter.
Set oven to 350 degrees.
For the streusel:
Two-thirds cup sugar (she and I each use half brown sugar, half white sugar)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, slightly softened
one-half cup flour
5 cups of rhubarb, approximately one-half-inch dice
1 cup strawberries, washed, cored and sliced
For the batter:
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
one-half cup sugar
1 stick butter, melted
three-quarter cup milk
1 tablespoon yogurt (optional)
1 package of strawberry gelatin (like Jell-0)
To make the streusel:
Process together first three ingredients in a food processor, mixer or by hand. Set aside.
Mix together with a wooden spoon (or any spoon, for that matter) the rhubarb and strawberries. Set aside.
To make the batter:
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and sugar. Using a mixer (you can do this by hand, if you like), add eggs, one at a time. Add melted butter, milk and, if using, yogurt.
Pour batter into the prepared baking dish. Top the batter with the rhubarb and strawberries. Sprinkle the strawberry gelatin over the fruit. Top with the streusel mixture.
Place cake in prepared 350-degree oven and bake for about 40 minutes.
The Florence Griswold Museum opened Café Flo, its seasonal lunch spot, on June 1. Along with its partner, Gourmet Galley Catering, visitors can enjoy garden-fresh fare Tuesday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. Two of the returning favorites are the Black Bean Chili and the Lobster BLT.
I first met Anna Lathrop, who runs Gourmet Galley, years ago at Summer Music. Her food is lovely and FloGris is so lucky to have hired her for the summer. And aren't we lucky that we can dine on her little plates, salads and desserts at the museum whose backdrop is the pretty Lieutenant River?
Florence Griswold Museum
96 Lyme St.
Old Lyme, CT 06371
860-434-5542, ext. 111