Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Rhubarb is not a one-trick pony

By Vaseline May30,2024

is delicious in a cake, but it is also a tasty filling for cake.  Rhubarb can be cooked and mixed into drinks.

is delicious in a cake, but it is also a tasty filling for cake. Rhubarb can be cooked and mixed into drinks.

Paul Simon is one of my favorite singer-songwriters. Like many fans, I was first drawn to his work as half of the duo Simon and Garfunkel. I loved their music, especially the songs “The Only Living Boy in New York” and “For America,” both of which strike me as sad tunes about a bygone era.

But once I got to college, I started listening to Simon’s solo stuff more, and I liked what I heard. I was first bitten by his 1987 Grammy-winning album, Graceland, which was followed by 1991’s Rhythm of the Saints. From then on, I started delving into some of his earlier hits, especially “Kodachrome” and “Slip Sliding Away’ and ‘One Trick Pony’.

The last of those three issues is the inspiration for this week’s column. You see, the phrase “one trick pony” refers to someone who is known for only one thing or talent.

Rhubarb was once a kind of ‘one trick pony’ in the baking world. Known for pie and only pie, rhubarb longed to stretch its metaphorical wings to show what it could do in other dishes.

It turns out that rhubarb is right. Yes, it’s delicious in a pie, but it also makes a delicious filling for cake. Rhubarb can also be cooked and mixed into drinks. Additionally, rhubarb jam and jelly are a great topping for other desserts, such as panna cotta.

But rhubarb shares something else with Paul Simon. As I said at the beginning of this column, Simon got his start in show business as one half of a duet with Art Garfunkel. After they broke up in 1970, many fans refused to consider Simon without Garfunkel.

That’s similar to the relationship between rhubarb and strawberry. While the two make beautiful music together in a number of desserts, that shouldn’t overshadow Rhubarb’s talents as a solo artist.

Below are a few recipes that really make rhubarb sing (Sing. See what I did there?). Best of all, they’re easy to make, especially if you have a patch of rhubarb outside your front door.

Rhubarb Margarita

You didn’t see that coming, did you? That’s right. Rhubarb is – in addition to a delicious addition to a pie – also drinkable. Not only that, it can give quite a kick.

Okay, to be honest it’s not the rhubarb that has the kick. That comes from the tequila. Instead, rhubarb contributes a subtle flavor and a not-so-subtle pink hue to this beloved cocktail. Give it a try. It’s perfect on a hot summer day.

This recipe comes from the website The Beet Kitchen.


For the rhubarb simple syrup:

10 oz. rhubarb, cut into half-inch pieces

16 oz. water

1 cup sugar

½ vanilla pod, split open (you can also substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

For the rhubarb margarita:

4 Oz. rhubarb simple syrup

4 Oz. orange juice

2 oz. lime juice

4 Oz. tequila

Coarse salt for the edge

How to make the simple syrup:

Add the rhubarb, water, sugar, salt, vanilla and cardamom to a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb is completely broken down and the juices have been released.

Remove from heat and let cool for 10-15 minutes. Strain into a bowl and press on the rhubarb mixture to release the juices.

Stir the lemon juice into the rhubarb syrup. Pour it into a jar for future use (like the margarita recipe that follows).

This is how you make the rhubarb margarita:

Add a generous amount of ice to a cocktail shaker. Add all ingredients except the coarse salt. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds.

Dip the rim of the glass in lime juice. Roll the edge in coarse salt.

Add ice to the glass and pour the margarita mixture over it. Serve cold.

Grandma’s Rhubarb Coffee Cake

Every year I ask the other Michael what he wants me to make for his birthday in May, and every year he asks for something with rhubarb. This cake was his request this year. It was incredibly easy to throw together. Besides, he really enjoyed it.

However, it is more of a coffee cake than a regular dessert cake. That said, it’s perfect for a snack or breakfast.

The recipe comes from the website Allrecipes.


For the cake:

2 cups of flour

1 ¼ cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup sour cream

3 cups diced rhubarb

For the Streusel:

1 cup sugar

¼ cup butter, melted

¼ cup flour

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

To make the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch pan. Put aside.

Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the eggs and sour cream and mix until combined. Finally, fold in the rhubarb.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Next, prepare the streusel.

Stir together all the ingredients for the streusel (you can do this in a food processor or by hand). The mixture should be crumbly. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top of the cake. Bake for about 45 minutes.

Technically this isn’t a cake, but it is a delicious dessert. It’s also my brother-in-law, Nolan’s, favorite.

My mom orders this to be baked in a 9×9 inch square pan, but when I went to look for mine, it was gone. That’s why I used a springform pan like you would use for a cheesecake. It worked beautifully. Make sure you give it enough time (at least two hours) to set before removing the outer pan. This gives the filling time to thicken enough so that it can stand on its own.


For the crust:

1 cup flour

A dash of salt

2 tablespoons of sugar

½ cup butter, chilled

For the filling:

1 ¼ cups sugar

2 tablespoons of flour

1/3 cup milk

3 egg yolks

3 cups rhubarb, cut into small pieces

For the meringue topping:

3 egg whites

3 teaspoons of sugar

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

Grease a 9×9 inch square pan. Put aside.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

To make the crust, mix the flour, salt, sugar, and butter until crumbly (as if you were making a pie crust). Pour it into your prepared pan. Press into the prepared pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.

To make the filling, increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Combine the sugar, flour, milk, egg yolks and rhubarb in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until thickened and the rhubarb is very soft. Pour over the baked crust. Cover with the meringue.

To make the meringue, combine the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in a medium mixing bowl. Beat on high until stiff peaks form.

Spread the meringue over the top of the dessert. The meringue should be strong enough to hold decorative peaks.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until the meringue dots begin to brown. Let cool completely before serving.

Michael Knock is a columnist for the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

This article originally appeared on Ames Tribune: Food Column: Rhubarb is not a one-trick pony

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