There are very few things that say Spring to me like a few stalks of rhubarb do. I am not alone sharing that sentiment just from seeing all the rhubarb recipes posted by fellow bloggers out there. That makes me happy. I do have a little love affair with "la rhubarbe" each year.
This complex, fibrous and tart plant is probably one I remember the most vividly about my childhood. I literally grew up on that stuff every Spring and Summer. I can't recall a sunny day without my mother compote de rhubarbe or a vacation without my grandmother tarte a la rhubarbe.
I got an early start on my rhubarb baking (crumbles) when I got giddy finding hothouse cultivated rhubarb. But last week's venture to the farmers market with my parents was a success with a bunch pretty stalks of wild rhubarb making their way into our basket.
I really wanted to use it before their return to France and thought that a go at rhubarb sorbet would be a good one to whirl but we did not have nearly enough. I was going to acquiesce to my mother stewed rhubarb but I knew B. would never put a dent in it. The mushy texture of stewed rhubarb is something the man cannot stand. I like it on plain yogurt or fromage blanc.
As much as I wanted to make my grandmother's rhubarb tart it would have to wait until I am completely happy with the results. There was one elusive whiff of a scent whenever she'd pull hers out of the oven and I have yet to nail it down but I am getting close. Ha!
In the meantime, I made one of the desserts I knew would make everyone happy, Lavender Panna Cotta with Poached Rhubarb.
There is something about lavender that I can't never grow tired of. I grew up in Provence, surrounded by lavender and mimosa. One look at a lavender bud and I feel like I am six again. Once the scent hits my nose I can almost hear the cicadas in the background and my mom yelling from the patio to get down from the apricot tree. Yes, it was a rather idyllic upbringing. One I wish to share with B. when we move back home eventually one day in our old age.
Beside sorbet, this is one of our favorite ways to eat rhubarb, gently poached in lemon juice and a touch of honey until barely fork tender to preserve most of the texture that would be lost otherwise. The contrast with the silky panna cotta both in texture and flavor elicited lots of oohs and ahhs from the table the other day. Lots of fidgeting and eying the kitchen for second too!
I had made more panna cotta and had gotten some more rhubarb ready to be chopped and poached for when Tami came to visit but we never got around to it. Too much fun was being had on the town. The house was so quiet after a month of visitors that both B. and I were glad to have a couple of these to dig into to chase the blues away.
By the way....if you are in Charleston this week, do not miss Cabaret at the Sottile Theater. Great cast, great performances! And I am not just saying that because B. plays in the orchestra (although I am kind of very proud he is!)
Green cups: Anthropologie
Low bowls: Anthropologie
Blue tea cups: vintage gift from Tami
Tray: vintage find
napkins: remnant pack from Cicada studio
Lavender Panna Cotta with Poached Rhubarb
For the panna cotta:
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin (2 sheets gelatin)
1/4 cup water
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon edible lavender buds
2 cups full fat buttermilk
For the poached rhubarb:
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup water or sweet white wine or blush wine
2 tablespoons honey
5 stalks rhubarb, chopped into small pieces (1/2 inch)
Prepare the panna cotta:
Place the water in small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Reserve.
In a large heavy bottomed saucepan placed over medium heat, bring the heavy cream, honey and lavender buds to a simmer. When the cream is hot, remove from the heat and whisk in the reserved gelatin until it is completely dissolved. Add the buttermilk and whisk until well blended.
Divide the mixture among 4-6 cups or ramekins. Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving to let the cream set properly. Top with the poached rhubarb just before serving.
Prepare the rhubarb:
Place the lemon juice, water (or wine) and honey in a heavy bottom saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and add the pieces of rhubarb. Poach for 2-3 minutes then gently remove the rhubarb from the poaching liquid and set aside (they will continue to soften as they cool). You can reduce the poaching liquid to a syrup over medium heat and use to drizzle over the panna cotta, it's fantastic.
Le P'tit Coin Francais:
Pour les panna cotta:
2 feuilles de gelatin
1 verre d'eau
500ml de creme liquide
60ml de miel
1 cs de lavende
500ml de lait ribot (babeurre)
Pour la rhubarbe:
5 tiges de rhubarbe, coupees en des
jus d'un citron
250ml d'eau ou de vin blanc sucre ou de rose
2 cs de miel
Preparer les panna cotta:
Mettre la gelatine a ramollir dans l'eau.
Dans une casserole a fond epais, chauffer la creme avec le miel et la lavende jusqu'a fremissement. Hors du feu, ajouter la gelatine refroidie et bien melanger pour qu'elle fonde. Ajouter le lait ribot et bien melanger de nouveau.
Verser dans des coupes ou des ramequins et laisser refroidir a temperature ambiante pendant 20 minutes. Placer ensuite au refrigerateur de preference 2 a 4 heures.
Pour la rhubarbe pochee:
Porter a ebulition le jus de citon, miel et eau (ou vin) a chauffer dans une grande casserole. Ajouter la rhubarbe et faire pocher 2-3 minutes. Prelevez les morceaux du liquide et mettre de cote. Reduire le liquide de pochage de moitie et verser sur les panna cotta avec la rhubarbe.