This week I got in touch with my inner earth mother by making fresh organic rhubarb jam.
When I say fresh, I mean a friend picked the rhubarb for me from a dewy backyard garden in the morning and we spread the bounty as jam on our homemade wheat bread that very night. I love having friends who aren’t afraid to face off against cold spring soil and a few worms in the name of good food.
And me? Well I faced off against 2 ½ pounds of rhubarb stalks, a vicious posse of sharp kitchen tools, and one bizarre cookie recipe.
The jam was part of a recipe for Hungarian Shortbread, which was the assignment this week from the Tuesdays with Dorie group. I’ve always been a big fan of rhubarb, and feel it is an underrated fruit/vegetable. (There’s a weird story about it's classification here.) In this case, the addition of just a little sugar, heat and a vanilla bean or two makes the jam worthy of it’s own display at a chic little farm stand in rural Connecticut. It really deserves a cloth cover, a hand written label and a pretty little ribbon on top, finished off with a hefty price tag of course. But who’s got time for package design when you’re busy stuffing your face with this tangy delight? (I really did plan to gift it to some friends. Oops. All gone.)
The Pie Guy begged to help me make the jam, which he subsequently rejected completely. (No matter, there wasn’t much left anyway after mom got through “tasting” it…) With the Pie Guy, it’s all about the process, so I supervised his effort to chop the rhubarb into chunks using our 8-inch chef’s knife. Despite his most earnest attempts, the Pie Guy did not lose any fingertips during The Cutting Of The Rhubarb. Score one for the Cool Mom. (“Don’t tell Dad we used the big knife, ok?”)
Here's the crazy part of the recipe: For the cookies, the recipe instructed me to freeze the dough into two large balls, and then use a box grater to shred the dough into the pan. (Enter another evil kitchen tool.) Although we lavish regular attention upon our box grater, it does tend to get a little nippy with me, and my knuckles have the scars to prove it. I’m happy to report, however, that although I may be losing the overall war, I won the battle with the grater for today. Score standings: Cool Mom: two. Evil kitchen tools: zero.
When I was through grating the dough, the pan looked like it was ready for Passover. You be the judge: is it a potato kugel or uncooked shortbread dough?
I took the advice of my wise blogger buddies and pre-cooked the base, then inadvertently destroyed any crunch that could have ensued by placing a baking sheet under the pan while the top half finished cooking. What was I thinking? Mental note: baking sheet under glass pan = soggy-bottomed cookies. Won’t make that mistake again.
Next time, I’ll also wait until they are fully cooled before dusting the top with confectioner’s sugar (despite the instructions in the recipe). Hopefully this will result in a prettier presentation and significantly less sugar on top, since there already is plenty of sugar in the dough.
Despite the somewhat gooey and super-sweet outcome, the shortbread was appreciated by all. That’s what they tell me, anyway. Let’s go with that. Let’s just say we’re all winners today. Except for the poor friends who never did get my gifts of the delightful rhubarb jam. Maybe next spring.
For the recipe, visit: Lynette of 1smallkitchen. or Cher of The not so exciting adventures of a dabbler…