Our favorite rhubarb story happened years ago with the small jar of homemade jam we gave to Julia Child as a house gift.
It was in the spring, at the peak of the New England rhubarb season, and we were invited to Julia’s house in Cambridge for a party celebrating the publication of a cookbook written by one of her friends. When the invitation arrived, we thought it might have been a mistake. We were low on the foodie chain but thrilled at the chance to meet Julia and her husband, Paul, and see the kitchen we had read so much about. There was the big Garland stove where Julia made her famous coq au vin and the pantry pegboard where Paul traced spaces for Julia’s utensils so everything was put back where it belonged.
As we recall, when we gave Julia the jam, she hesitated a moment before thanking us in her famous chirpy voice. Now that we think of it, we might have said more about “rhubarb” and less about “jam” because she responded that she didn’t think there was space in the refrigerator for fresh rhubarb. But jam she could deal with and asked us to find a spot in the crowded fridge.
We like to imagine Julia opening the jar and putting rhubarb jam on her toast and Paul spooning it over ice cream, but are just plain happy with the idea that like us, Julia and Paul might have loved anything rhubarb.
Crusty Rhubarb Pie
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons 2% reduced-fat milk
6 cups diced, unpeeled rhubarb
2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. To prepare pastry, mix flour with salt and sugar. Pour in vegetable oil and milk. Mix well with a fork. Transfer to a deep-dish pie pan and press with fingers to spread over bottom and up sides of pan.
3. To prepare filling, combine rhubarb with sugar and flour. Spoon into piecrust. Dot with butter.
4. To prepare the topping, mix butter, sugar and flour with a pastry blender or your hands until crumbly. Sprinkle over rhubarb mixture.
5. Bake 1 hour or until filling is bubbling and topping is browned. Serves 10.
Per serving: 370 calories, 17g fat, 4g prot., 58g carbs., 2g fiber, 270mg sodium.
Recipe by Barbara Maggs of Cle Elum, Wash.
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Photo credit: Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn