She explains that when she was a little girl her mum worked at Strawberry Hills Post Office. Part of her mum’s job was taking morning tea around to the staff on a little trolley and sometimes they served rhubarb and custard tarts.
No one in Merna’s family had ever seen rhubarb, let alone eaten it, and when her mum brought that first bunch home, Merna was convinced it was beetroot stalks and worried what her mum was going to cook with it.
Needless to say her whole family grew to love her mum’s rhubarb creations. They included treats like rhubarb jam, rhubarb and orange compote, rhubarb pies, rhubarb and rosewater pudding, roasted rhubarb with yoghurt and honey, and of course rhubarb and custard tarts.
Now, like her mother before her, Merna is creating a whole new generation of rhubarb fans.
Tips for chosing rhubarb from Dessertmakers.com.au
When buying rhubarb look for thin bright red and crisp stalks. Floppy stalks means the rhubarb was picked a while ago.
Be careful of the leaves, which are mildly poisonous. Do not eat them.
Store rhubarb wrapped in plastic in the fridge for up to 1 week, or slice into smaller pieces and freeze for up to six months.
To cook rhubarb simply stew it or roast it. Because it’s so tart, rhubarb is often cooked with a sweetener, and I like to add a stick of cinnamon too.
Try it with: Apples, pears, berries, sugar, honey, ginger, fresh cheeses, yogurt, vanilla, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, ham, duck, trout, salmon, and kale.
Pepe Saya cultured butter is handmade, and full of probiotics products that are beneficial for gut health. Cultured butter not only tastes better, but it’s better for you, and unlike supermarket butter, spreads much easier straight from the fridge.
Cultured butter has a lactic culture added to cream, which is allowed to ferment and sour before being churned. The culture adds complexity, making the butter light on the palate, with a deep, rich and creamy flavour and a subtle sweetness. Regular butter is usually made from fresh cream without the addition of a culture.
Pepe Saya butter is available from The Essential Ingredient Newcastle.
Dessertmakers’ Rhubarb Crumble method
Prepare the rhubarb
1. Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees
3. Trim the leaves from rhubarb stalks – these are poisonous (see this month’s rhubarb facts) then wash stalks well.
3. Cut off the woody bottom part of rhubarb, about 6cm and cut the remaining into 6cm lengths.
4. Combine all ingredients in a medium pot and cook, occasionally stirring gently, over a low heat.
NOTE: Be gentle when stirring or the rhubarb will go to mush
5. Once rhubarb has softened and turned a bright deep red, remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Prepare the crumble:
1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and use your finger tips to combine.
2. Once you have a dry and crumbly texture, the colour of sand, set aside.
Construct the Masterpiece:
1. In a baking dish or fry pan add a thick layer of rhubarb and flatten.
2. Scoop crumble on top, be generous.
3. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the crumble is golden brown.
With a dollop of Pepe Saya Mascarpone or Crème Fraiche and dust with icing sugar.