Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ticking One Off My Bucket List: Sour Cherry Rhubarb Bars . . . and a Giveaway!

I believe everyone has a bucket list of sorts. Some people’s lists may contain such lofty goals as climbing Mt. Everest or snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, while other's lists may be a bit more humble. My own main list does contain a hike to Machu Picchu and visiting Gauguin’s grave, but I also have a smaller food driven list that I am starting to work on slowly.

It may sound kind of insignificant to someone who doesn’t really love to cook, but I am starting to use ingredients that I have heard of my whole life, but up until now have snubbed for one reason or another. For instance, as much as I cook I have never stuffed a squash blossom, sautéed an oyster or cooked a sweetbread. I’m not too sure if I really want to sauté an oyster or cook a sweetbread, but there they are on the bottom of my list. I did eat a raw oyster once when I was a squeamish eighteen year old and had a bit of a chicken fried calf testicle when I was two months pregnant and sick at the sight of pretty much anything. If I dwell on these experiences for too long I can still gag a little bit. . . peer pressure don’t cha know. Thank goodness I can check those two off my list.

Last week I had an occasion to cook with one of my bucket list ingredients when my neighbor brought over a bundle of rhubarb a friend had given her. I have grown up hearing about strawberry rhubarb pie my whole life but have always been put off a bit by rhubarb's celery appearance, the unappetizing name and a rumor I heard a long time ago that it is poison in its raw state.  Well, come to find out, the leaves in super great quantities that no one would really eat, have been known to make goats sick or something like that.

Knowing that this was my chance to tick one off my list I accepted her gift and went to work. I challenged myself to make something a little different than the usual strawberry rhubarb pie. I dug through my pretty well stocked pantry and came up with some sour cherry preserves which were given to me by another neighbor. I combined the two with some other ingredients I had hanging around and the result is a really great recipe if I do say so myself. Not only have I now come one ingredient closer to dying a happy cook, I understand what all the hoopla is surrounding this odd looking vegetable. So if you’re like me and haven’t cooked with rhubarb, or even if you have, give this recipe a try and I guarantee it won’t be your last time.

Sour Cherry Rhubarb Bars

2 ounces coarsely chopped almonds
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup quick cooking oatmeal
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 cup sour cherry preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small frying pan set over medium high heat, toast almonds (stirring frequently) until they are a golden brown; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the almonds, flour, oatmeal, butter and brown sugar; stir well to combine completely. Press half of the mixture evenly into the bottom of a greased 9” square glass dish; set aside.

In a medium size sauce pan, cook water, sugar, cornstarch and vanilla over medium heat until it boils. Lower heat to simmer and cook until it thickens. Add rhubarb and preserves and cook until the preserves are completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and gently pour over the oatmeal mixture in the pan. Place pan into the preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the remaining oatmeal mixture evenly over the top. Return to the oven and continue baking for an additional 20 – 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Cover with foil if it begins to brown too much. Remove from the oven and cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. The longer it cools, the better it sets.

Serve warm with ice cream or at room temperature.

Serves 8

Since I haven’t done a giveaway in a very long time, I thought it would be fun to do something a little bit different this time to say thanks to my followers. To enter just leave me a comment between now and June 10th stating what food is on your bucket list and you could win a $50 Williams Sonoma gift card. If you dance naked around a camp fire chanting my blog name you get an additional entry. No, just kidding, one entry per person please, and YOU MUST BE A PUBLIC FOLLOWER OF THIS BLOG TO WIN. On the morning of June 10, just before high noon, I’ll let Random.org choose my winner so thanks for playing and good luck!
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