With rhubarb now growing, Teri Robl’s rhubarb almond cake makes good use of the Alaska early-spring staple, as seen here in this photo of the cake taken in her Homer, Alaska, kitchen on May 12, 2019. (Photo by Teri Robl)

With rhubarb now growing, Teri Robl’s rhubarb almond cake makes good use of the Alaska early-spring staple, as seen here in this photo of the cake taken in her Homer, Alaska, kitchen on May 12, 2019. (Photo by Teri Robl)

Kachemak Cuisine: Rhubarb season a reason to make tasty treats

It’s rhubarb season. Dark green crinkled leaves on the plants give way to short red and green stalks of rhubarb just barely ready to pick, but it’s up enough to harvest and make something yummy out of. Those long-awaited stalks of rhubarb are my first of the season fresh produce, and I am pretty excited when they make their appearance in the garden. The cool weather here allows us to enjoy all things rhubarb from May to July.

The tart and bright flavors of rhubarb work well in everything from rhubarb lemonade to chutney, jam, wine and quick bread. It makes for some good eating sweet treats to make and enjoy throughout the spring and into summer. Besides the usual pie, crumble and crisp, there are many other ways to enjoy this easy to grow plant. Rhubarb is a versatile ingredient to be included in savory as well sweet recipes.

This recipe has been a favorite since I first tried it many years ago. The chutney accents the Dijon and cumin spiced grilled pork perfectly and makes for a beautiful and tasty dinner dish.

Grilled Pork Chops with Rhubarb Chutney

4 servings (serving size: 1 pork chop and 1/2 cup chutney)

Ingredients for Chutney:

• 1/2 cup sugar

• 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

• ½ cup dry red wine

• 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

• 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick

• 2 cups coarsely chopped rhubarb (about 1/2 pound)

• 1/3 cup dried cranberries

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne red pepper or a pinch of red pepper flakes

• 1/4 cup chopped green onions – save for garnish

Pork:

• 1/3 cup red currant jelly

• 1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

• 4 (6-ounce) bone-in, center-cut pork chops (about 1/2 inch thick)

1. To prepare chutney, combine first 5 ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add rhubarb and the next 3 ingredients; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until rhubarb is tender. Spoon into a bowl; cover and chill at least 2 hours. Discard cinnamon stick.

2. Prepare grill.

3. To prepare pork, combine jelly and mustard in a small bowl; set aside.

4. Combine 1/2 teaspoon salt, black pepper, and cumin; rub evenly over pork. Place pork on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 -6 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness, basting occasionally with jelly mixture. Serve pork with chutney; sprinkle with green onions, if desired.

This attractive cake is a basic butter batter rhubarb cake to dress up as you see fit. It’s not too sweet and is a light bit of spring time rhubarb confection.

Rhubarb Almond Cake

Serves 8

Ingredients

• 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature, plus more for pan

• ¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, plus more for pan

• 1- pound rhubarb stalks, trimmed

• 1¼ cups all-purpose flour

• ¾ cup blanched almonds or if you have it, ½ cup almond meal

• 1 teaspoon baking powder

• ¾ teaspoon kosher salt

• ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out

• ½ teaspoon almond extract

• 2 large eggs

• ¼ cup sour cream

Special Equipment

• One 11×8” tart pan or one 9”-diameter tart pan with removable bottom

I use two small tart pans.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°.

• Butter tart pan and sprinkle with sugar, tapping out excess. Slice rhubarb in half lengthwise (quarter if very large). Set eight of the prettiest pieces aside for the top of the cake; chop remaining rhubarb into ½” pieces.

• Pulse flour, almonds, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until almonds are finely ground (texture should be sandy). If using almond meal in place of blanched whole almonds, add it and mix until all ingredients are blended in a bowl.

• Place 1 cup butter and ¾ cup sugar in a large bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; reserve pod for another use. I bury the bean pod shells in a jar of sugar or add it to a little vodka to infuse for vanilla. Just keep adding the pods to vodka as you use them.

• Using an electric mixer on high speed with the egg whipping beater, beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating to blend first egg before adding second. Beat until mixture is pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. You want to beat the batter this long as it is important for the texture of the cake. Add almond extract.

• Switch to the paddle beater and on low speed gradually add dry ingredients, followed by sour cream. Beat, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed, just to combine (batter will be thick). Fold in chopped rhubarb and scrape batter into prepared pan. Smooth batter and arrange reserved rhubarb over top; sprinkle with remaining 3 Tbsp. sugar.

• Place tart pan on a large rimmed baking sheet or on a piece of aluminum foil and bake, rotating once, until cake is golden brown and rhubarb on top is soft and beginning to brown, 35–40 minutes, until top is golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and let cake cool before removing from pan.

Sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream would be a perfect companion. The cake is notl sweet, but is flavorful and moist. It would also be lovely with a nice sweet Riesling or Lemoncello.

Do Ahead: Cake can be baked three days ahead. Keep tightly wrapped at room temperature.

I bet if you don’t have rhubarb growing somewhere in your yard or garden, someone will be happy to share with you.

With rhubarb now growing, Teri Robl’s rhubarb almond cake makes good use of the Alaska early-spring staple, as seen here in this photo of the cake taken in her Homer, Alaska, kitchen on May 12, 2019. (Photo by Teri Robl)

With rhubarb now growing, Teri Robl’s rhubarb almond cake makes good use of the Alaska early-spring staple, as seen here in this photo of the cake taken in her Homer, Alaska, kitchen on May 12, 2019. (Photo by Teri Robl)

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