Aaahhhhhh, the first tastes of spring...maple syrup, fiddleheads and rhubarb..how could one ever pick a favourite? I love them all. I buy my maple syrup by the liter from friends who have been operating a Sugar Bush near Elgin NB for some time now. The last few years have not been kind to the maple producers and the yield has been small. I was lucky to get one bottle from them this spring; lucky for me I still had one in the freezer from last year. I will have to dole it out sparingly....
Fiddleheads I have not had yet this year. I'm hoping for some this week. Mmmmm I can taste them now - with butter, pepper and salt and a dash of vinegar. Yummmmmy....
But rhubarb... oh sweet rhubarb.... we had our first Rhubarb Crisp tonight. It was SO good. There's just something about that first bowl of rhubarb in the spring.... Tonight I just made the "regular version" - chopped rhubarb topped with the "crisp" - oatmeal, brown sugar, a bit of flour, cinnamon and butter, mixed together to make the crumbly topping- and served with vanilla icecream. But my favourite topping is Raspberry Sherbet- now that's yummy! Sometimes, for a change I throw in some raspberries from the freezer with the rhubarb - that's good too...
Another favorite recipe is Rhubarb Upside Down Cake, using maple syrup to sweeten the rhubarb. Now that's a treat! The recipe follows- it is a combination of Donna Young's recipe from Maritimes Seasonal Cooking and my own recipe.... Look at this gorgeous rhubarb- the colors of spring! That glorious spring-y yellow green and the pinky red of the stalks...who said red and green were only for Christmas?
Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
1/2 cup maple syrup
4 cups chopped rhubarb
Batter: 1/4 cup shortning
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350F. Pour maple syrup into 8x8 pyrex cake pan, spread chopped rhubarb over. Once oven is up to temperature, place cake pan in oven to warm the rhubarb while you prepare batter (this helps your batter to bake more evenly and not have a spot in center that isn't quite "done"). Cream shortning and sugar, add vanilla and egg and beat well. Sift dry ingds. together and add alternately with milk. Spread over warmed rhubarb, bake till top is golden brown and center springs back when touched - about 45-50 minutes. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla icecream (and a drizzle of maple syrup if you really want to go all out!!)
"One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides." ~ W.E. Johns