I have these incredibly fond memories of cutting rhubarb from my grandmother's neighbor's plants (I was allowed) and chewing on the oh-so-tart stalks. I bought a few rhubarb plants over the years, but they were never quite the same. One, a 100% green variety, bolts almost as soon as the first leaf unfurls. The other has these tiny short little stalks. Definitely not the rhubarb of my memories. So I was delighted when a few years back a friend offered me some field rhubarb plants from her garden (thanks, S!). She needed to get rid of them, and I was happy to give them a home.
Since rhubarb doesn't like to be transplanted, I was very nice to it and left it to grow unmolested so it could establish itself. This year I deemed it ready to pick. Strawberries and rhubarb are the classic pairing that everyone knows about, but in Michigan, rhubarb is ready well before strawberry season. I wanted to find a simple recipe that used only rhubarb, but oddly so many of my cookbooks don't feature rhubarb-only dessert recipes. (I did find one, and you'll be seeing the results of that soon.) Fortunately, my friend D came to the rescue and sent me this recipe from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins (of Silver Palate fame ).
If you haven't cooked with rhubarb before, please note the leaves and roots are poisonous. Only the stalks are edible.
Galette of Rhubarb
adapted with slight changes from The New Basics Cookbook
1 1/4 C unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbs granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 tsp unsalted butter (aka 3 oz), cold, cut into pieces (I've used salted butter and it was fine)
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
2 Tbs ice water
5 Tbs confectioner's sugar
2 1/2 C rhubarb stalk chunks (1-inch)
slivered orange zest (I used Penzeys grated orange, soaked in water, but slivered zest will be prettier)
Rosso and Lukins have you combine the dry ingredients and then use a pastry blender, knives, or your fingers to cut in the butter and orange zest. I am far too lazy for that. I put the dry ingredients into my food processor with the cutting blade, pulse to mix, then add the butter and pulse some more until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Then I slowly add the ice water and pulse so that it begins to come together. I do the final kneading by hand — just enough to bring it together into a dough and pat into a flattened disk. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
I like to let the chilled dough warm up just a touch to make it easier to roll out. Roll into about a 11 inch wide circle. I found this dough to be stiff and prone to tearing. (Maybe because I use a food processor? Or maybe that's just the way it is?)
Transfer to a lined baking sheet. Mark off a 9 inch wide circle in the center. (A 9 inch round cake pan makes a great stencil.) Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the confectioner's sugar. Cover with the rhubarb. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of confectioner's sugar and top with the zest. Fold the dough edges over the rhubarb. You should have a nice open area in the center.
Bake until crust is golden and the filling bubbles. Approximately 40 minutes.
Cool slightly before serving.
Kitchen Chick's notes: The first time I made this I didn't have an orange (or any citrus fruit) on hand, but I keep a jar of Penzeys grated orange peel in the refrigerator. I soaked the peel in a bit of water to rehydrate it before using it. The second time I used grapefruit zest as the top garnish, and the Penzeys orange peel in the dough. The grapefruit zest worked wonderfully.