Rhubarb to Love

Wet Weather Gardening

The Garden Education Center, a wonderful local non-profit organization, driven by loyal volunteers, promotes horticulture, conservation and outreach. Their annual garden tour is this Thursday, and I’m excited that our garden is one of the stops.

I’ve been working from dawn to dusk to make it beautiful despite rain, wind, chill and heat waves… but I draw the line at thunderstorms. A huge storm blew in, accompanied by hair-raising booms and crackles. The heavens opened up – I dropped my tools and ran for cover.

In the Bronx, a cameraman caught the reaction of some New York Yankees in their dugout when a gigantic clap of thunder resounded like a gunshot. Even these tough guys jumped out of their seats like children.

The storm gave me no choice but to call it a day.

Gardening is hard work. A live-in masseuse would be nice right now, but I watched the storm from my kitchen and baked something sweet and irresistible while being serenaded by the chaos.

Rhubarb is a spring crop, now at its zenith. I made one of my favorite muffins, filled with slender slices of the green and red stalks. People think it tastes like strawberries, but it doesn’t really, it’s just that many recipes with rhubarb include strawberries.

Cut Rhubarb

Even people who don’t like rhubarb will be converts after tasting these.

Anna Pump

Anna Pump was Ina Garten’s mentor. She has a cookbook called Summer on a Plate that I live by along with my Barefoot Contessa library.

Anna’s Rhubarb Muffins with Coconut Topping are divine. They are perfect for a special breakfast with weekend guests, or for tea with your best friend. Warning… generously suffused with the magic of butter and sugar.

Rhubarb Muffins with Coconut Streusel

  • 16 Tbsp (8 ounces), unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream (I used low-fat sour cream)
  • Grated zest of two oranges
  • 3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 3 cups thinly sliced rhubarb

Coconut Topping

  • ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut (I used unsweetened)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes)

Preheat your oven to 375. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with liners and set aside.

To make the coconut topping : Combine flour, coconut, sugar, walnuts, and butter in a bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter in and stir so that the butter resembles little pebbles. Set aside.

Make the batter. In a large bowl, combine the flour , sugar, salt and baking powder. Add the eggs, melted butter, milk, cream and orange zest. Stir just to blend. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar and gently stir that into the wet ingredients. Fold in the rhubarb and spoon batter into muffin tins . Scoop a spoonful of the coconut topping onto the top of each muffin. Bake for about 25 minutes until lightly brown.

Note: I half the topping recipe – I don’t know where Anna puts all this topping!

Muffin Pan

Allow to cool just a bit before diving in.

BreakfastServed warm from the oven, I think they are delicious with a cup of coffee.

 

 

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