Friday, April 30, 2010

Rhubarb Compote with Strawberries and Cream

It’s rhubarb season! Rhubarb may seem strange to some, but it has a long history for medicinal use that dates back to 2700 BC China. Ben Franklin is often credited with bringing rhubarb plant seeds to the East Coast in the late 1700s but it was only developed for culinary use in the 1800s when it became popular in Great Britain as an ingredient in dessert and the production of wine. When cooked with sugar, rhubarb has a unique tart flavor and juicy texture that makes pie lovers swoon.

This rhubarb recipe is one of those desserts that you can pull together in just a few minutes. It’s all about the enjoyment of the simplicity of fruit. Although it’s not fancy, it looks and tastes like something beautiful and fresh.

The rhubarb compote is made by simmering fresh rhubarb with a little bit of white wine, sugar, some orange zest and half a vanilla bean. The wine complements the acidity of the fruit and the vanilla and orange zest round out the flavors beautifully. The resulting syrup is a bright pink and it tastes wonderful. Add some fresh sliced strawberries and a dollop of crème fraiche and you’re all set. Easy, quick and a satisfying welcome to spring.

Bench notes:

- After the rhubarb compote has been cooking for a few minutes, taste the liquid to be sure the sugar level is right for you.
- I like a garnish of simple crème fraiche, but whipped cream or vanilla ice cream are also good options.
- Also try substituting raspberries for the strawberries or adding some finely diced crystallized ginger.

Rhubarb Compote with Strawberries and Cream

Makes 4 servings

3 stalks fresh rhubarb
1/2 C white wine, such as Viognier or Sauvignon Blanc
1/3 C sugar
zest of 1 medium orange
1/2 vanilla bean

2 C fresh strawberries
crème fraiche, whipped cream or ice cream for garnish (optional)

Wash and cut rhubarb into 1/2” pieces. Combine the wine, sugar and orange zest in a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the pan and toss in the bean. Bring to a simmer to dissolve the sugar. Add the sliced rhubarb and cook on a low simmer until tender. Remove the vanilla bean casing and cool the compote.

Slice the strawberries into quarters. Distribute the compote in 4 bowls and add the strawberries. Pour syrup over the fruit. Garnish with cream.


soulsearcher said...

looks yummy..i would love to see this mouthwatering treat in one of those cute birthday gift baskets my mother gave me

chamilia said...

We're having a reunion this weekend. This would be a great dessert to serve. Thanks for the recipe.

Eileen @ Passions to Pastry said...

Beautiful! Is there anything better than rhubarb-strawberry season?

Cannelle Et Vanille said...

this is what i like to eat for dessert!

Display homes Melbourne said...

Wow! I can't believe how good that looks. Delicious!
Thanks for sharing.