A week ago today, Hubby Bryan and I were on our way to Omaha, Neb., to take in that city’s first Beerfest. Despite some wet weather, we were able to participate in this outdoor festival, which included a sampling of brews from around the region, and even a few international selections, and sit in on a seminar with a “sensory specialist” from one of our favorite breweries, New Belgium in Fort Collins, Colo.
The other highlight of the long weekend was a stop at Omaha Old Market Farmers Market on Saturday morning. This market opened for the season a couple of weeks ago and is already featuring mountains of tomatoes (grown in hydroponic greenhouses, I suspect), loads of vegetable and flower plants and other seasonal produce such as lettuce, asparagus and rhubarb. We came home with a couple bundles of green onions, freshly picked bok choy, herb plants, red romaine lettuce plants and a gorgeous patio tomato plant. We’ve been feasting on grilled asparagus, bok choy salad and asparagus soup ever since.
Since there’s a rhubarb plant growing in our backyard that rarely gets harvested, I didn’t look twice at any of the piles of those red stalks. And besides, in response to my plea for you to share your rhubarb recipes, I only got one phone call, and that was about a recipe that could be termed “an oldie but a goodie.”
That much-appreciated call came from Audrey Reisdorfer, who put in a plug for what she referred to as “the best rhubarb recipe” — what DotMom coined as the Quintessential Rhubarb Dessert. Audrey recalls that her late husband, Morris Reisdorfer, often lamented that she was trying new recipes, saying “the old stuff is the best stuff.” And such is the case with the Quintessential Rhubarb Dessert, which continues to be a favorite in Audrey’s rhubarb repertoire.
After Audrey’s phone call, I went to look for the “Quintessential” title in DotMom’s “Mixing & Musing Cookbook,” but was unable to locate it, and a search of the Daily Globe archives also came up blank. So I called Audrey back, but since she was busy playing bridge, ended up talking to her daughter, Julie Morphew. Julie was able to provide me with the date of the original Quintessential column — June of 2003, just one week before the Daily Globe online archive was started. She was then gracious enough to drop off a copy of the recipe so we could share it here once again, and also brought Audrey’s recipe for Rhubarb Crunch. (In another look through “Mixing & Musing,” I find that a version of the “Quint” dessert, but made in an 8- by 10-inch pan, can be found on Page 303.)
Quintessential Rhubarb Dessert
First Layer: Combine 2 cups flour, ¼ cup sugar (or a little less), pinch of salt and 1 cup butter. Press in a 9- by 13-inch pan. Bake at 325 degrees 25 minutes.
Second Layer: Cook 5 cups rhubarb, cut fine, until rhubarb is almost tender. Add 2¾ cups sugar, ¼ cup flour, 6 egg yolks and 2/3 cup half and half. Cook until thickened. Cool slightly. Pour over baked crust.
Third Layer: Beat 6 egg whites, 2/3 cup sugar and ½ teaspoon cream of tartar. Spread atop cooked rhubarb mixture. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly brown, 10 to 15 minutes.
Mix 2 cups flour and 2 cups packed brown sugar in a large bowl. Cut in 1 cup butter as for a pie crust. Mix in 2 cups quick cook oatmeal. Gently pat half the mixture into the bottom of a 9- by 13-inch greased pan. Save remaining half for topping.
Spoon 6 cups diced rhubarb over the crust.
In a saucepan, mix 1 cup granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Stir in 1 cup water and cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil and is clear and thickened. Pour over rhubarb.
Combine 1 can cherry pie filling with 1 teaspoon almond flavoring; pour over cooked mixture. Top with remaining crumbs.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Serve either warm or cold with whipped cream or ice cream. Makes 12-15 servings.