When I was at high school, my rather elderly English Literature teacher (and Band Master) used to say “rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb” rather often. Whenever I see these bright pink stalks in the supermarket I think of Mr Maughan, but I’ve never really researched the origins of his strange expression. It turns out that he was commenting on our inability to speak in a decipherable language! To use this expression means as the listener, you can only hear confused noise, plenty of mumbo jumbo. As a parent with school-aged children, I reckon I know what he was on about…
You may have never thought about it, but Rhubarb is actually a vegetable. It’s most unusual amongst vegetables as it’s treated like a fruit! Rhubarb is low in natural sugar contains some oxalic acid which makes it unpleasant to eat unless cooked. Even then, it tastes very bitter unless sugar is added. In this recipe from Donna Hay, we also add vanilla bean and orange for mumbo jumbo goodness.
300g rhubarb, trimmed and chopped
1 vanilla bean, split
1/2 cup (110g) super fine caster sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated orange rind
1/4 cup (60mls) orange juice
2.5 cups (375g) self-raising flour
1 cup (175g) brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup (125mls) buttermilk
1/2 cup (125mls) vegetable oil
1/2 cup (75g) self-raising flour
2 tablespoons Demerara sugar
40g unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Place the rhubarb, vanilla bean, sugar, orange rind and juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, for 6 minutes or until soft. Set aside to cool slightly.
While the rhubarb is cooling, make the crumble topping.
Place the flour, sugar, cinnamon and ginger in a large bowl. Add the egg, vanilla extract, buttermilk and oil, and using a butter knife, mix until just combined. Spoon into 12 x 1/2 cup capacity well-greased muffin tins. Top each with the rhubarb and spoon over the crumble. Cook for 20 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Set aside to cool for 2 minutes in the tins before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 12.
Enjoy ~ Fleur xo