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All photos courtesy of the author.

Hello My Name Is… Rhubarb

By She Who Must Be Obeyed on May 28, 2016

Every Saturday, check in to find out WTF is in season and WTF to do with all that local goodness.

Too bad rhubarb leaves are poisonous - one leaf could feed a small army

Too bad rhubarb leaves are poisonous – one leaf could feed a small army

When I was very young, my neighbour had a rhubarb patch in her backyard and she taught me how to sit on the front stoop with a small bowlful of sugar and dip a stalk in and crunch off big mouthfuls. There was something daring in the astringency and something tempting in the sweetness. I now have my own rhubarb patch in my own backyard and my own kids sit with bowlfuls (more large than small) of sugar, dipping and gnawing. That sounds very proprietary but I can assure you that I don’t think of my children as chattel and I have so much rhubarb, I’m willing to share…

Once summer starts, I move into Pavlova-mode. I make a batch of meringues, whip some cream and throw them both together with a heap of fresh fruit to create a glorious mess. In our house we eat this for breakfast. Hey, it’s eggs… Also, I’m half-Austrian. Eating dessert for breakfast is a national pastime. There’s a reason pastries are called “Viennoiserie” in France. I start off with rhubarb in the spring, move through the various berries and when Labour Day hits, I eek out a swan song peach Pavlova or two.

Let the summer begin!

Meringue

  • 4 egg whites (not a speck of yolk)
  • 1 cup icing sugar

In the bowl of an immaculately clean stand mixer, whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add in icing sugar a little at a time, beating after each addition. Beat until a glossy meringue forms. Use a large spoon to plop generous lumps of meringue onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 6 hours at oven’s lowest setting – 200°F is ideal. I have a gas oven with a pilot light so I simply put the meringues in the oven overnight without even turning it on. That’s how breakfast Pavlova was invented.

meringue

Cream

  • 1 cup 35% cream
  • 1/8 cup icing sugar

Whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Add in icing sugar and whisk until the cream can hold firm peaks. Do not over whisk or you will end with butter.

Stewed Rhubarb

  • 6 cups chopped rhubarb stalks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp water

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Lower heat and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes. Rhubarb is ready when it has melted and formed a thick sauce.

Assembly

Big bad mess of breakfast goodness.

Big bad mess of breakfast goodness.

On individual plates, place one meringue, a spoonful of whipped cream and a generous puddle of stewed rhubarb. Serve immediately.

NOTE: The meringues and stewed rhubarb can be made ahead. Stewed rhubarb will keep in the fridge for a few days. Meringues will theoretically keep for up to 3 weeks in an airtight container. In reality, there isn’t a container airtight enough to combat Ottawa’s summer humidity. I never make meringues more than a day or two before they are to be eaten. Whipped cream is best made just before serving.

She Who Must Be Obeyed (but rarely is) blogs about shenanigans, antics and misadventures at travellargefamily.