Guest Post: Frozen Roasted Rhubarb Meringue Pie

It’s Wednesday! While I may have dropped the ball on it the past few weeks, it’s time for a guest post! Today’s recipe is courtesy of Kim Ode, Food & lifestyle writer at the Star Tribune… and author of both Baking with the St. Paul Bread Club, and Rhubarb Renaissance.

Kim is one of the admins of the Baking 101 Facebook group, which is “devoted to sharing the baking experience, especially with the “lost generation” that slipped between the cracks when Betty Crocker was jilted in favor of EZ roll pie crusts and brown-and-serve buns”. Her website is at Kim-Ode.com, and she can also be found on twitter, at @odewrites.

Truth be told, I never imagined spending as much time thinking about, preparing and eating rhubarb as I have over this past year. I’m not complaining. I’ve always liked rhubarb and, frankly, look with some disdain upon those whiners who say it’s too sour.

Still, it’s just rhubarb.

In a foodie world that swoons over sous vide cooking, and salted caramel macarons, and new fondant techniques, and pairing cotton candy with foie gras, rhubarb seems impossible homely.

When I was growing up, Mom most often served it as rhubarb sauce over ice cream. It was a simple dessert for a busy farm wife to prepare with ease or trust her sixth-grade daughter with the task — and everyone liked it. Why would you make something fussier?

The main variations were rhubarb pie, or rhubarb crisp, or a custardy rhubarb dessert made with a buttery pastry crust and topped with meringue. These pretty much were as far as anyone reached beyond their culinary grasp.

Yet my lot was to explore the savory side of the “pie plant,” treating it as the vegetable it technically, botanically, is.

In my day job as a reporter with the Star Tribune, I’m sort of a research junkie. A former co-worker once described his perfect newspaper job as delving into all manner of information about a topic, then going to a cocktail party and telling everyone what he knew. In this way, he would never have to actually write. Brilliant.

Little wonder, then, that a bout of procrastination set me to wondering how they say rhubarb in France. Why, I think I’d better find out. Firing up one of the various translating engines on the Internet, the answer emerged: rhubarbe, the “e” tossed on as effortlessly as an Hermes scarf.

But then, as the definition continued, there were unexpected exclamation points. interj. foutaise!; baliverne!, bétises!; pas question!, jamais!

Hmmm?

Reverse the universal translator and the meaning became clear: interj. rubbish!; piffle!, absolute twaddle and twiddle!; not question!, never!

“Absolute twaddle and twiddle!” – really? From rhubarb?

This was getting interesting.

Of course, none of this is in the book. Nor is the logic behind actors silently saying, “rhubarb watermelon, rhubarb watermelon,” in a crowd scene. Apparently, the way the mouth moves when saying these two words replicates how we look when we’re actually in conversation. Nor is there anything about Shakespeare’s reference to rhubarb in “Macbeth,” act v., scene 3.

“What Rhubarb, Cyme, or what purgative drug

Would scour these English hence?”

In short: Waiter, can I get a martini over here? And whatever they’re drinking……….

What we have here between the covers of “Rhubarb Renaissance” are recipes – 55 of them, split about evenly between savory and sweet. There are corn fritters with nuggets of rhubarb, a piquant rhubarb mostarda, shrimp wrapped in wontons with a rosemary-laced rhubarb compote and wok-fried (To. Die. For.) and a kale salad with pickled rhubarb that makes you feel (or fear) you’ll live forever.

In short, there’s more to rhubarb than making it sleep with the strawberries.

And that’s not twaddle.

Frozen Roasted Rhubarb Meringue Pie

This pie is the perfect way to end a warm summer evening, with the pure flavor of rhubarb folded into a frozen meringue. Recipe can easily be made either gluten free or not, depending on the choice of graham crackers used. Serves 6–8.

Graham Cracker Crust:

1 3/4 cups finely crushed gluten-free graham crackers (12 large crackers)
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a pie plate with cooking spray.

Stir together cracker crumbs, sugar, butter, and milk until well combined. Reserving 1 tablespoon of crumbs for garnish, press the rest into the pie plate, creating an even layer across the bottom and up the sides.

Bake for 15 minutes, then let cool on a wire rack.

Filling:

3 cups rhubarb, cut in 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 Tbsp Triple Sec liqueur or orange juice
pinch salt
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place rhubarb in a shallow baking dish, such as a pie plate, and sprinkle confectioners’ sugar evenly over fruit. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring once, until rhubarb is very soft. (Late summer rhubarb may have less moisture than the first rhubarb of spring, so watch carefully, adding a tablespoon of water if it seems to be scorching before it’s soft.).

Once soft, puree roasted rhubarb in a blender with Triple Sec (or orange juice) and salt. Set aside.

Bring about 2 inches of water to a boil in a saucepan over which a medium bowl will fit. While the water is heating, combine egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in a medium bowl. Reduce heat to keep the water at a simmer and place the bowl over the saucepan. With a handheld mixer on medium speed, beat the whites until foamy, about 3 minutes. Increase speed to high and beat until the whites begin to appear glossy, moving the beaters around the bowl, about 3 minutes more. Remove bowl from the pan and set on a counter; continue beating mixture until the meringue holds a stiff peak when the beaters are lifted.

Fold the rhubarb puree into the warm meringue, then scrape into the graham cracker crust. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs over the filling. Place in the freezer, uncovered, for an hour, then gently cover with plastic wrap and freeze until solid, at least 6 hours or preferably overnight. Remove from freezer about 10 minutes before serving to make slicing easier.

CREDIT: RHUBARB RENAISSANCE by Kim Ode, Minnesota Historical Society Press

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