12 April 2010

Rhubarb Citrus Tart

I've been intrigued by rhubarb for a while now. Usually disguised as a fruit and featured in springtime desserts, it is technically a vegetable! Despite its unassuming appearance (the stalks look a lot like pink celery), for me rhubarb conjures up romantic notions of times-gone-by. Classic rhubarb desserts seem to either represent good old fashioned Americana (strawberry rhubarb pie) or prim Victorian England (rhubarb fool)--either way they appeal to my imaginary sensibilities.

Curious to know if rhubarb appealed to my real sensibilities as well, last summer while in New York City I bought some from the farmer's market and cooked it up. I stewed it gently for about 20 minutes on the stove with a hefty amount of sugar (rhubarb is very tart and recipes usually temper this by combining it with sweet berries like strawberries and an ungodly amount of sugar, surely canceling out any positive benefits of eating vegetables for dessert!). The resulting compote (is there any less-sexy name for a dessert?) was good, especially spooned over greek yogurt or ice cream, but I knew I could do better.

Although rhubarb doesn't seem to be a popular Texas crop and isn't available in our local Austin farmer's markets, I couldn't resist when I saw some good looking stalks at the grocery store this week. A quick epicurious.com search landed me with this tart recipe and I'm happy to report, it was way better than my first experiment! And much prettier. Admittedly, it is a bit of a cheater recipe, as it calls for a frozen puff pastry crust (which I used despite being a bit appalled by the scary list of ingredients), but I bet you could be a purist and make something equally good if not better if you can pull off a delicate tart crust. As it is, though, this tart makes an impressive and delicious finish for a springtime barbecue, especially when accompanied by some homemade vanilla ice cream. It's deceptively quick and simple to make too, even if you take the time to lay out each thin piece of rhubarb in a precise (ahem) manner. Try it and you, too, will enjoy eating vegetables for dessert, I promise!
P.S.: There have been many other culinary shenanigans around these parts lately including experiments with pea shoots, quick pickling, a glorious roasted chicken, breaking in my birthday BBQ pit, and a very entertaining evening spent attempting to fish a lost dishtowel out from behind my stove with a hanger (PSA: the bottom drawer of your oven is removable people!!!). I'm hoping to write some posts here about all of these noteworthy items and more, so stay tuned...meanwhile, here's a little visual preview:

Rhubarb Citrus Tart
based on a recipe from Gourmet, 2009
serves 8

1 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 pound rhubarb stalks, thinly sliced on the diagonal (about 1/8" thick)
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 400 with rack in middle. In a medium bowl stir together juices and sugar, add rhubarb and let stand, stirring some, for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cut puff pastry in half lengthwise and roll out with a lightly floured rolling pin until each measures about 7 x 11 inches (making two smallish tarts instead of one large one increases the crust factor and decreases center soggy pieces). Transfer to a large baking sheet and make a border around each one by scoring (not cutting through) a line parallel to and about 1/2" from each edge. Prick all over the center with a fork.

Strain rhubarb in a colander over a bowl, reserving juices. Top center of each pastry with half of the rhubarb, overlapping the pieces slightly. Bake about 30 minutes or until crust is puffed and golden. Meanwhile, reduce juice in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until you have about 1/4 cup of thick glaze. Brush or drizzle glaze (I didn't use all of it) over the baked tarts and scatter orange zest over the top. Enjoy!


JoWy said...

That looks cool!!!! I want some!

diane said...

Ohhh, rhubarb!! Love it and now's the time to find it! I am going to try this one! YUM!

Helper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Helper said...

The tart looks beautiful and delish! I heard that the venison burgers were yummy, the homemade vanilla ice cream, delightful, and the ambiance incomparable!
Your Mom