It is officially spring when I walk outside my door and there are stalks of rhubarb standing tall in my garden. To date rhubarb and strawberries are the only edible things I’ve managed to grow. Every year the rabbits and squirrels wait until the strawberries are perfectly formed and just about to turn red, then they systematically eat them all. So, in the end all I am left with is my huge patch of rhubarb. It may be why I love it so much, because I feel a sense of accomplishment.
This year will be different. I have signed up for the Backyard Harvest Project. They assigned me a master “urban” farmer, Stefan, and we will work the land together. My city farm is tiny, no more than 10×14′ of organic growing space. This is apparently enough room to grow about 30 varieties of vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. So far we’ve prepped the land, shoveled loads of beautiful black organic dirt, planted leeks, cauliflower, spinach, peas and radishes. The beauty of this program is that Stefan is here to make sure that in the end I have a bounty of produce. In other words he makes sure I won’t kill it. He even installed a fence today to keep out the rabbits. Hmmm, perhaps I’ll get strawberries this year after all. *
The spring “fool” came to me on Twitter. @francis_lam, who is a writer for Gourmet magazine posted that he had some fresh heavy whipping cream and asked what he should do with it. I thought, rhubarb Fool! It is a classic British dessert made of cooked, sweetened fruit that is folded into whipped cream. There is nothing as simple, and yet just a touch decadent. I wonder where the name comes from???
my first rhubarb of the spring!
4 cups coarsely chopped rhubarb
1/2 cup Lillet or other sweet white wine
1/4 cup sugar, more to taste (but don’t make the rhubarb too sweet or you lose its lovely tang.)
1 cup heavy whipped cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Strawberries for garnish
In a medium sized sauce pan heat the rhubarb, Lillet and sugar until gently simmering. Cover the pot and cook for about 5 minutes.
Or until the rhubarb is very tender.
Pour into a container and refrigerate until totally chilled. I stuck it in the freezer for about 15 minutes and it did the trick.
Once the rhubarb is chilled whip the cream and vanilla together until soft peaks. Don’t over whip or your fool won’t be smooth.
Slowly fold 1/3 of the rhubarb into the whipped cream. Add another 1/3 of the rhubarb and gently fold it in.
Reserve the last 1/3 of the rhubarb for layering or pouring over the top of the fool.
You can serve it in glasses with a layer of fool, then the reserved rhubarb and more fool. Decorate with a sweet strawberry. This can all be made a couple of hours ahead.
* Stay tuned for a page that is dedicated to the unfolding of the my “urban farm!”