Monday, April 15, 2013

Strawberries with Rhubarb Compote and Rice Pudding

Oh, I love strawberries.
Its the only fruit I wait for every single year and being farther South in the Bay Area, we get beautiful, bright and crisp strawberries. Over the years, I've developed quite a few recipes with strawberries and for the most part, I'll take them any way I can get them...
Fresh, lightly dressed with citrus syrup.
  Pureed, strained and poured over a slice of cake.
    Frozen in chunks, surrounded by ice cream and served in a waffle cone.
        Simply eaten, one by one out of a green, plastic basket, still cold by a light rinse in water.

Recently, I have really come to also love rhubarb. Probably, only because I have learned to cook it properly. First of all, you need to discard the leaves. They're dangerous, beware.
Rhubarb is almost inedible without a very generous dose of sugar, but there are so many ways you can cook it and my favorite is by making a simple compote.

This is my last recipe posting for my "recipe project". I have found that because I collect baking and pastry cookbooks, I was making something with a generous dose of sugar every week. In an effort to maintain my health and my matronly figure, I must pare down this project and share recipes, like this one that have really been my go-to, must make this, must eat this recipe. I never meant to abandon this project, but the amount of sugar I was buying and consuming was getting outta hand, even for me!

The Wine Lover's Dessert Cookbook by Jennie Schacht and Mary Cech is a gorgeous book I got at Powell's during a work trip to Portland, OR and I fell in love with this recipe. I met Jennie at the IACP Book and Blog Festival where I bought her most recent book, I Scream Sandwich. These are both great books and excellent additions to my collection. Now the recipes:

Rhubarb Compote with Strawberries-Makes 2 cups
2 cups     Rhubarb, Cut into 1/2 inch, diagonal slices. (If the stalk is wide, cut it in half then, slice)
3/4 cup   Sugar
1/3 cup   Water
2 Tbsp.   Lemon Juice
1/2         Vanilla Bean, scraped (optional)
1/2 cup   Fresh Strawberries, diced

1.  Combine rhubarb, sugar, water, lemon juice and vanilla bean in a medium saute pan. Allow the sugar and water to mix completely with the rhubarb. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
2.  Simmer slowly for about 12-15 minutes or until the rhubarb is bright pink, and soft. Allow to cool completely and chill for at least 30 minutes.
3.  Stir in diced strawberries. Serve slightly chilled.

Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding (Adapted from The Wine Lover's Dessert Cookbook)
*The original recipe uses heavy cream, whipped, added to the pudding at the end and I have left it out.

1/2 cup       Arborio rice
3 to 4 cups  2% Milk
1/3 cup       Sugar (start with a little less than 1/3 cup sugar and keep adding to taste)
Pinch of Salt
1/4              Vanilla Bean, scraped

In a heavy saucepan, combine  rice, 3 cups of milk, sugar, salt and vanilla bean. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, keeping it at a lively bubble. Stir every few minutes until the rice has absorbed most of the milk, but is still tender. Stir in up to one cup of milk as the rice simmers to keep the pudding soupy; it will thicken as it cools. Serve warm with Rhubarb Compote and Strawberries.