It's the hardest thing to remember, but it's important to just stop sometimes. I mean stop thinking, stop doing, and take a few minutes, or a few hours, and just enjoy.
Kind of funny, but today's "zen" moment was brought to you by the fruit, rhubarb.
It's something you don't see often in farmers' markets in New England. It always seems like I see it once or twice a year, and that's it. It's fleeting, but it's also extremely inspiring. I bought a bunch. I brought it home. I sliced it.
I pick up the satin-smooth slices and they go into the large pot on the stove. I've done this a hundred times. In goes the sugar, the butter, the salt, and the pinch of cinnamon. Start to cook, low and slow until the rhubarb begins to soften and break down. As I stood there stirring, I thought of all the things I was supposed to do. I had this blog post to write, I had to run to the store, the laundry hamper was full, but I kept stirring. Then and there, I changed the day.
Instead of writing or the store, there were Lemon-Rhubarb Martinis with my husband.
Instead of laundry, there were stalks of local asparagus tossed in olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and Parmesan. There were bourbon steak tips. There was peace and quiet because it's Sunday, and there was no excuse not to just stop.
Did I mention there was also a Brown Sugar Rhubarb Tart?
Brown Sugar Rhubarb Tart
Base tart shell recipe adapted from: Smitten Kitchen
1 3/4 pounds rhubarb, sliced
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (187.5 grams)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (this is the adaptation from a normal tart shell which usually uses confectioner's sugar, this makes your tart a tad more "rustic")
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons, 4 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled or frozen
1 large egg
2 tablespoons cold water
Brown Sugar Crumble Topping:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour.
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled.
Let's start with the compote. In a large dutch oven or saucepan, combine rhubarb, sugar, butter, salt, and cinnamon. Cook over low heat, stirring here and there, until the rhubarb breaks down and pieces are soft. You don't want all of it to turn to mush, so take it off the heat when the pieces are softened. Set the compote aside.
Butter a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and set aside.
In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt together until combined. Next, add your chilled butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. Finally, add your egg and pulse until just combined.
Turn crumbly dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Add your two tablespoons of cold water and knead lightly with your hands until the dough comes together. Take your buttered tart pan, and press your dough into the pan. Butter the shiny side of a sheet of aluminum foil and place on top of the dough in the pan. Transfer to the freezer for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
After the tart shell has been in the freezer for 30 minutes. Take it out, remove the foil in one piece, prick the center with a fork, and cover the dough again with the foil. Add dried beans or pie weights to the top of the foil and bake for 20-minutes until the edges are starting to get golden brown.
Take the shell out of the oven and set aside to cool a bit.
Head back over to the food processor, we're going to make the topping. In the food processor, combine the half cup of brown sugar, the 2.5 tablespoons of flour, salt, and cinnamon. Add your chilled butter to the mixture and pulse until you get a mixture that resembles coarse cornmeal.
Now let's assemble the tart. Take your shell, spread about a cup and a half of the rhubarb compote (you'll have some leftover to enjoy in other ways) over the top of the shell until it's completely covered. After that, take your topping and sprinkle it over the entire tart.
Pop it into the oven and bake for 15 minutes until the top is browned and fairly crispy. Take the tart out of the oven and allow to cool on a wire baking rack. Once it's cool enough to handle, pop the tart out of the pan and transfer to a plate. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
The Lighter Side of Local:
After a week off, we're back up and running. The meal described above was almost entirely local, other than the pantry ingredients. The steak tips and asparagus were from Tendercrop Farm in Newbury, MA. The rhubarb came from Arrowhead Farm in Newburyport. It's nice to be getting to that part of the season where the choices are getting much more diverse.
Here's what I got this week:
1 bag baby chard (for salads) - $4
1 bunch rhubarb - $5
1 bunch radishes - $3
1 bunch hakurei turnips - $3
$15 for the whole bunch this week, to be used in a bunch of different ways this week.
What are you finding locally this week?
And just a reminder, this offer is still available to you all!
I took so much away from Eat, Write, Retreat, last weekend in D.C. Apparently, the fine folks over at Calphalon want to give us all even more. Readers of Lighter and Local can receive 10% off on online purchases* at Calphalon between now and June 6th by using promotional code C95926
*Clearance Items and Gift Certificates do not qualify. Excludes John Boos & Co. Cannot be combined with other special offers or applied to previous purchases. Terms subject to change. Offer valid through June 6th, 2011.