Once a week Etsy worker bees gather ’round our handmade farm tables to dig into seasonal dishes. We call this gathering Eatsy, and it’s, by far, the best day at the office. Kitty Greenwald, cook and author, makes these dishes from scratch and the menu changes weekly. Eatsy’s objectives are simple: apply Etsy’s handmade values to food and provide the Brooklyn crew with a nourishing, communal meal. This is no different than what many of you do with friends and family in your homes. Eatsy strives to create a similar environment in the workplace, and we want to give you all a taste of Kitty’s amazing cooking. Here she is to share her tips for sourcing locally grown food and a recipe to boot.
It’s reasonable to approach rhubarb cautiously. I think of it as the femme fatale of vegetables: lanky, lean and dangerous. Rhubarb has poisonous leaves and a stalk that isn’t, but — if eaten raw — tastes like it could be. Unapologetically sour, raw rhubarb is completely unpalatable (although rumors of a delicious Middle Eastern salad with rhubarb have circulated). And while she may not give immediately, when handled sweetly, rhubarb returns the favor with a seductive and distinct sweet-tart bite. Often a favorite for pie fillings and jams, rhubarb suits any number of dishes — see some examples here.
Treat rhubarb as you would any acidic ingredient: cook it in a non-reactive pan and pair it with desserts, fish or meat. Thanks to its twang, rhubarb balances dishes nicely and pairs particularly well with fatty, roundly flavored foods like buttery pie crusts and fatty foie gras. Plus, what beats that beautiful pink color? No vegetable I’ve seen.
Late spring is rhubarb boom time. Before summer tree fruit replaces it take advantage of the sassy lass. Below you’ll find tips and an easy recipe to help you along.
How to handle:
- Despite her bite, rhubarb is easy to prepare. Discard any traces of leaves from the top of the stalks; trim away the rough, browned butts, rinse and pat dry.
- Be warned that when poaching rhubarb it can quickly turn to mush. To keep it intact, cook for a minute or two and stand by with a slotted spoon and a large dish on the side. Once just cooked and tender transfer the rhubarb to the dish. Baking rhubarb with just a bit of liquid and sugar minimizes the mush factor, but takes a bit longer.
- Rhubarb plays well with others. Add cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla bean, peppercorns, caraway seeds or fresh herbs, like thyme, basil or lemon verbena, to your pot for flavor variations.
- Rhubarb comes in red, green and intermediate shades depending on its variety. To keep the red vibrant color, minimize both the cooking time and the cooking liquid.
2 lbs. rhubarb
2 cups water (for an adult version, use wine instead)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbs. whole cardamom seeds
Trim, clean and dry the rhubarb stalks. Cut them into 2-inch matchsticks and set aside.
Add the water, sugar and cardamom seeds to a deep pot and bring to a boil. Stir once.
Once the sugar is dissolved, about 2-3 minutes, add half the rhubarb and reduce to a simmer. Place a dish next to the stove. When the rhubarb is just tender*, about 2 minutes, use a slotted spoon to transfer the stalks to the dish. Repeat with the remaining rhubarb.
*If you overcook the rhubarb, don’t despair. It tastes delicious anyhow. Slather it over toast, pie crust or swirl it into ice cream.
Continue to simmer the poaching liquid for 3-5 minutes. Place a sieve over a bowl and pour the liquid through.
To go the dessert route: Place the stalks in serving dishes and spoon some cooking liquid over top. Serve with sweetened crème fraiche, vanilla ice cream or Greek yogurt.
Juice 1 orange. Add 1/4 cup of the cooled rhubarb poaching liquid (see above). Top with seltzer. Serve with ice cubes and, if you’re feeling fancy, garnish with a citrus slice, thyme or mint sprig.
For cocktails add a tablespoon or two of poaching liquid to your champagne flute and top with bubbly. For something stronger, stir some into your greyhound.
** The rhubarb seen here came from the Fort Green Farmer’s Market in Brooklyn, NY.
About Kitty Greenwald, a cook and food writer living in Brooklyn:
I’ve cooked in New York, California, France, Italy and Portugal, been involved in Slow Food Nation, The Smithsonian Folk Life Festival: Food Culture USA, curated Slow Film Night at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and am currently collaborating with the great Grahame Weinbren for the SJ01 Biennial. I’ve written and contributed recipes to Real Simple, National Geographic’s Food Journeys of a Lifetime and the San Jose Mercury News. My first cookbook (just released!), Life’s Too Short to Chop Onions, published by Reader’s Digest, is a collection of handy-dandy easy recipes — you can find it on Amazon or through an independent bookseller. Happily, part of my week is devoted to Eatsy, a locally sourced and seasonal meal that I plan and prepare for the good people of Etsy. Here on the Blog, I’ll share recipes and chat with you about all things homemade and edible.
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and share links to Flickr photos. Let’s make everyone hungry!