Saturday, May 10, 2008

Fool Me Once...

The same friend who gave me the tender fresh asparagus earlier this week also gave me a large bundle of rhubarb to give to the Chef Mother for a pie. And though I've never been a fan of rhubarb, I slipped a few stalks out of the bundle in order to try to overcome my reluctance where this vegetable is concerned.

I sifted through recipes and was about to make a rhubarb-berry dessert laced with crystallized ginger when I read about rhubarb on my fellow Ethicurean Janet's blog, She referred back to a recipe for a rhubarb fool that she had made last spring that turned out well.

Since I've heard about fools (the edible kind) for years, I was immediately tempted. And as I read over the recipe, learning how the fruit was blended with a custard into creamy sweetness -- not unlike a pudding, an old favorite made new again! -- I knew I'd end up trying this recipe instead of something out of my cookbooks.

Of course, I can never let a recipe be, even one from a friend. As I read the recipe, I also remembered the last bag of strawberries resting in the freezer from last year's crop. Since I often see strawberries and rhubarb used together in jam or pie, I thought this would be the perfect way to clean a little more out of the freezer.

Janet's recipe has all the details, but in essence:

1. I simmered the strawberries and rhubarb together, then mashed them, added sugar, and thickened the puree.

2. I made the creamy custard by heating cream (didn't have milk), whisking in thickening ingredients, and then gradually incorporating eggs and cooking it until it felt more substantial.

3. I mixed the custard into the puree and chilled it.

So easy! And so tasty, too, as a quick lick of the spatula proved.

While the fool could be served on its own, I had originally thought to dump it into a homemade pie crust to make a sort of cream pie. Instead, I ended up taking it to the farm this weekend to serve as part of a more elaborate dessert, using it as a filling for crepes.

After a hearty dinner, I cleared the table and made the crepes, filling them with the fool as they came off the griddle and topping them with homemade strawberry jam and whipped cream. (Apologies for the poor color in both photos; the kitchen lighting is awful for photography, and I'm still learning how to adapt.)

Everyone offered praise for the dessert, whether verbally or through a slow and silent appreciation of each bite, and I was pretty pleased with it myself.

I definitely think I will have to play with Janet's recipe and other fruits... it's a simple but versatile dessert.

And I'm happy to be fooled once, twice, or more!


At 5/12/2008 11:35 PM, Anonymous Janet said...

I should have known you'd find a way to make it even better! I'm sure the color alone made the strawberries a worthy addition. I look forward to seeing what else you'll be fooling with!

At 5/13/2008 7:03 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

The color isn't very accurate in the photos... the kitchen lighting I have to work with always makes things severely yellowed. The fool ended up being more a lavender color with speckles (wasn't able to puree the fruit, just mashed it), but I definitely liked the combination of strawberries and rhubarb. Besides, I didn't save much rhubarb for myself, so the berries stretched the dessert further.

I'll let you know if I'm up for fooling around again sometime!

At 5/13/2008 6:57 PM, Blogger Tina said...

Do you have Photoshop or Photoshop Elements? I've found my Elements program to be an invaluable tool in helping with lighting issues in my photos.

At 5/14/2008 6:54 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

No, I don't have either program, Tina -- just the basic editor that came with the camera. Normally I try to overcome the problem by photographing with natural lighting, but after dark, that just doesn't happen. So... for now, I live with it. :-)

I definitely need to get in touch with you one of these days!

At 5/14/2008 9:17 AM, Blogger justagirl said...

Looks delicious! I have always loved rhubarb. My grandfather grew it in his flower bed, of all things! My sister and I used to go over there and pull it, wash it, sprinkle it with salt, and eat it just like celery. Mmmm. And of course my mother would take bags of it home to cook up in all sorts of delicious recipes. I looked for it in the store a couple weeks ago but it was too early. I shall try again this weekend!

At 5/14/2008 10:26 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

justagirl, my mother had rhubarb in a flower bed, too, along the back of the house. But I never took to it like you did... I'm just now learning. Hope you find some soon!


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