April 1 2013

To what purpose, April, do you return again?

The answer is simple – to give us another chance to sample the first fruits of spring! No wonder home gardeners have long waxed poetic about the very first edible delight to crack the spring earth. Rhubarb is a delicious treasure and some of the first local produce you will find at the farmer’s market.

Try Steve’s recipe for this unfussy but impressive rhubarb dessert.

Strawberry – Rhubarb Clafouti

Do ahead – Rhubarb and strawberries can be prepared up to 12 hours ahead. Clafouti is best served within a couple of hours but it can be baked up to six hours ahead and reheated, lightly covered with foil with a few holes poked in it, in a 300 degree oven for 20 minutes.

1 pound rhubarb, ends trimmed. (The green leaf of the rhubarb stalk is poisonous. Remove all green leaf.)
1 quart strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
2 cups half and half
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

1. Adjust an oven shelf to the upper middle rack and preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Cut each piece of rhubarb crosswise into four 6-inch sections. Halve each section. Line up strips and cut across to make 3/4 inch cubes
. Transfer cubes to a bowl and add strawberries, gently combining them with your hands.
3. Combine sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In another bowl lightly beat eggs. Add half and half and melted butter to the eggs. Gradually add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
4. Generously grease a 4-quart baking dish with softened butter. Add remaining two tablespoons of sugar. Rotake and shake dish to spread sugar over the dish, including sides.
5. Pour half of the batter into the baking dish and use a rubber spatula to spread it evenly, covering the entire bottom of the dish. Spoon strawberry-rhubarb mix evenly over the batter. Pour rest of batter over fruit and spread evenly. Bake until center is done, about 60 minutes. Serve warm. Just before serving, add confectioners sugar to a fine strainer and tap lightly to cover the clafouti.

To serve, spoon about a cup of clafouti on each plate, accompanied by some sliced and sugared strawberries and strawberry ice cream.

Happy Spring!