Wandering around my most favorite local market always gives me so much inspiration (and NO it is not Trader Joe’s, but good guess).
This time, I discovered some absolutely gorgeous rhubarb at Daisy Mae’s at Findlay Market. It was just too pretty to put down. I mean, seriously?
As soon as I saw the stunning rhubarb, I knew what I had to do. It was time. See, it’s been years that the thought of making my very own strawberry rhubarb dessert has been rolling around in my head. To me, the flavor combination is just insanely good.
Unfortunately, there was never any reason to actually make it because my grandmother made such a good strawberry rhubarb pie that anything I even considered would pale in comparison. Gram has been making pies for our family get-togethers forever. She is like a pie ninja. Her apple? A knockout. Chocolate chiffon? To die for. Strawberry rhubarb?! Forget about it.
Sooo what changed? you ask. Well, two years ago I moved 1,000 miles from my family, including my Gram, so now I’m stuck in Ohio with no strawberry rhubarb anything. Easter is typically the time of year strawberry rhubarb makes it’s appearance and I haven’t been to an Easter dinner in at least two years. Two years is a really long time to go wanting for strawberry rhubarb people, especially pie this good.
But I put on my big girl pants, bought that rhubarb and a big pile of strawberries, and went home. Aaaand then I called Gram.
I guess I was kind of terrified. She immediately told me to find my nearest cookbook, and look at what it says about rhubarb. Easy enough. I pulled down my copy of the Joy of Cooking, which hubby had gifted me this year for Christmukah. She asked me to read to her the instructions of their generic fruit crisp recipe. “Hm,” she said, “doesn’t seem like enough sugar, you should add at least 1/4 cup more since the rhubarb is so bitter.” I was starting to feel relieved already.
With a renewed sense of confidence after my pep talk, I forged ahead. For attempt one, (above) I essentially followed the Joy of Cooking recipe to a tee, except I added extra sugar like Gram said. I even used the torture device she gave me years back to blend the butter, sugar and flour topping, which was a workout unto itself. When it was done, I was happy to see that it came out really nicely, a really good first try. But I felt like it was missing some texture. The flavor was there, but I wanted a little more toothiness, and maybe a touch more spice. Toothiness, that’s a word right?
The next day I started chatting with my fellow food-loving coworker about my texture problem and that I was considering adding oats. She immediately sent on a recipe from the The Quaker Oats Wholegrain Cookbook for a crumble topping. I had to adjust the ratios and also add sugar (and a bit of extra butter because it felt right), but it turned out to be the perfect fix for the texture problem.
Then I considered the spice. I didn’t want to add cinnamon as the recipe suggested, because that felt too expected and boring. I reached into my spice cabinet and pulled out cardamom. Perfect. The other thought I had was maybe one big dish wasn’t right, it would be more fun to make individual ramekins of crumble, and so photogenic, right?
My mom gave me a set of 5 for Christmas one year. Not sure why anyone would ever sell 5 ramekins but I’m pretty sure
they fell off the back of a truck they came from Ocean State Job Lot, which if you’ve ever been to one, you understand exactly what I mean. It’s like the most hilarious bargain shopping store ever. Where else can you buy a pellet stove, a (very) limited number of hair care products, AND dog treats. You can never go in there with a plan though, just to bargain hunt and people watch. My mom loves that kind of thing, so alas, I have a set of 5 ramekins.
It didn’t seem right to make a recipe for 5, so I opted for 4 instead. A nice, even, normal number.
Individual Strawberry Rhubarb Cardamom Crumbles
- 8 oz rhubarb sliced into 1/2 inch pieces (3 or 4 long stems)
- 8 oz sliced strawberries (1/2 a lb) sliced to a similar size
- 3/4 cup of old fashioned oats
- 1/2 stick of melted butter (unsalted)
- 1/4 tsp cardamom (3 or 4 whole pods) ground
- 3 tbsp wheat germ
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- Couple good pinches of salt
Preheat oven to 375. Place chopped fruit evenly into four, 7 oz ramekins (or slightly larger). The ramekins will look very full as above. Combine remaining ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon. Make sure all of the clumps are out of the brown sugar. Evenly split the topping into four, and place on top of each ramekin of fruit. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until very bubbly and the oat topping is slightly brown. I placed mine on a cookie sheet to make it easier to take in and out of the oven.
Voila. Amazingly delicious strawberry rhubarb crumbles. Feel free to pop a couple scoops of vanilla icecream on these, but they’re also delicious as is. These would be so fun to serve at a dinner party, and super easy to double the recipe, as long as you have eight ramekins that is. I can imagine this dessert being drank with a sort of fruity but sour beer like a Festina Peche by Dogfish Head. Mmmm yes.
Just don’t tell my teetotaler Grandmother, mmk? Mmk.