The rhubarb is long with webbed feet. A rouged, slender fellow, he mimics, or rather flatters, celery with his more adaptable nature. He leans toward the sour palate but only requires a slight pucker. A fruit? So many fruits pose as vegetables, but here we have the opposite. Rhubarb is a vegetable in drag, dressed in ribbons. There was no time in youth that I met rhubarb. Now, in my thirties, I am learning to indulge new tastes and we are becoming friends.
It has been 2 years of evolution, dogged work, and stubborn enthusiasm. Time, invaluable, has been in competition with survival. When I started Criminal Baking Co., I was naive, insistent. I had purposefully put up blinders to pessimism - or realism. I was scared and happy. Time was all I had to invest and I handed all of it to my company. It was never enough. Perpetually, I said yes when I should have said no. A new business absorbs all it is given and flounders, hunting for more. So I gave it money I didn't really have. I knelt down and offered it love, loyalty, and faith. I took it to bed at night and let it nag me into the morning. Co-dependent, blinders up, I was content to be lost. Now, 2 1/2 years later, I breathe deeper. The shallow sigh of panic has expanded into trust and clarity. I come up for air, seek myself out, examine my goals, and listen to my need. As the business grows legs, I get a return of time.
It is to rhubarb that I now offer that time. My hands touch with want and pride. Desperation aside, we linger at the edge of a silver bowl, sit upon a cutting board, and open to the edge of a knife. Indulging unnecessary tasks, I peel his long stalk, just to touch his ribbons and to inhale his fresh acridity. It is sensual between us - I finesse him with my fingers and he lets his ideas unfold. We decide. To roast? To toss with honey and butter? To brush with lemon? To cozy with ricotta? To simmer and thicken? To marry with strawberry or nectarine? To rub promiscuously upon an apple stuffed chicken?
Strawberry & Roasted Rhubarb Scones
makes 2 disks of 10-12 scones
Prep 2 cups of rhubarb by chopping into 1/2 inch pieces, toss w/ 1/4 c. melted butter, 1/2 tsp cardamom, and 1/2 c. brown sugar
Roast for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees
Chop 1.5 c. fresh strawberries
In large bowl, mix 6 heaping c. flour, 1 c. sugar, 3 tbsp. baking powder, 2 tsp. cinnamon, & 2-3 tsp. sea salt. Add fruit. Cube 1 c. of COLD butter in 1/2 - 1 inch chunks and add to mix. Add 3 cups of heavy cream. Mix should be able to hold together without being too moist. Add a little more cream if necessary. Divide mix in half and form each into a round disk, approximately 1.5 inch thick. Cut into 10-12 slices, like cutting a pie. Place 2 inches apart on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes. Or, freeze in an air tight container (do not refridgerate) cut scones for later and pull and bake as you like.
Notes: Cold, larger chunks of butter keep the gluten from being released prematurely. I sometimes substitute 1/2 cup of orange juice for a bit of a citrus note. Or, I add about 1/4 cup of chopped, fresh lemon verbena.