Dash of Class: It’s all about rhubarb

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Food column by Nora Sweat

By Nora Sweat

I love rhubarb. As a kid growing up, we had a large bed of rhubarb and asparagus.

I have tried growing rhubarb three times but I think last year was the most successful and despite the cold winter temperature, all four plants came up and I have cut enough to fix the Strawberry Rhubarb pie. Yum! It was quite the hit at the Derby Party along with Coconut Cream Pie and Bourbon Pecan Pie.

I now have the rhubarb planted between my hydrangea and Stella d’ Oro lily. They are on the side of the garage that gets morning sun but in the afternoon they are in the shade.

My Mom made rhubarb pies but most often she just put it in a saucepan with some water and sugar and she would boil it until very tender. We ate it as a side dish, served like applesauce.

If you don’t have your own rhubarb, you can get it at local groceries while it is in season.

A food fact most people don’t know: Rhubarb is a vegetable, not a fruit.


Rhubarb Custard Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup cold butter



2 cups sugar

7 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup heavy whipping cream

3 eggs, beaten

5 cups finely chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb, thawed and drained



2 packages (3 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped


In a bowl, combine the flour and sugar; cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into a greased 13-inch x 9-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, for filling, combine sugar and flour in a bowl. Whisk in cream and eggs. Stir in the rhubarb. Pour over crust. Bake the bars at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until custard is set. Cool.

For topping, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth; fold in whipped cream. Spread over top. Cover and chill. Cut into bars.

Store the bars in the refrigerator. Yield: 3 dozen

Source: Taste of Home, 2014


Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

1 unbaked double pie crust

2 ½ cup rhubarb, sliced in ½ “slices

2 ½ cup hulled and sliced fresh strawberries

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup flour OR ¼ cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces

1 large egg yolk, beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water


Prepare the bottom crust by rolling out to an 11-inch circle. Nestle the crust inside the pan so about an inch hangs over the sides.

Mix the fruit with sugar and flour, pour lemon juice over top. Place all the fruit in the bottom pastry crust. Use the other half of dough to put on a top crust or lattice strips. Moisten the rim of bottom crust with water and then press on the top or strips, fold edges under to crimp or trim and press with fork tines. Brush the egg glaze over the top crust or strips. Cut steam vents in solid crust on top. Transfer the pie plate to a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees for another 30 minutes longer or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Remove from oven and allow it to cool on a rack before serving.

Source: Nora Sweat


Rhubarb Meringue Pie

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup shortening

1 tablespoon beaten egg

1/4 teaspoon white vinegar

3 to 4-1/2 teaspoons cold water



3 cups chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Dash salt

3 egg yolks

1 cup heavy whipping cream



4 teaspoons plus 1/3 cup sugar, divided

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/3 cup water

3 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar


In a small bowl, combine flour, salt and sugar; cut in shortening until crumbly. Combine egg and vinegar; sprinkle over crumb mixture. Gradually add water, tossing with a fork until a ball forms. Cover and chill for 1 hour or until easy to handle.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry to fit in a 9-inch pie plate. Trim to 1/2 inch beyond edge of plate; flute edges.

Place rhubarb in crust. Whisk the sugar, flour, salt, egg yolks and cream; pour over rhubarb. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

In a small saucepan, combine 4 teaspoons sugar and cornstarch. Gradually stir in water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until thickened. Cool to room temperature.

In a small bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy. Add cornstarch mixture; beat on high until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in remaining sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, on high until stiff glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved.

Spread evenly over hot filling, sealing edges to crust. Bake the pie for 15 minutes or until meringue is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Store it in the refrigerator. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Source: Taste of Home, 2014


Orange Rhubarb Bread

½ cup sugar

1 egg

¼ teaspoon orange zest

¼ teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

¼ cup sour cream

2/3 cup finely chopped rhubarb

¼ cup chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, orange peel and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. Fold in rhubarb and walnuts.

Transfer to two 5-3/4-inch x 3-inch x 2-inch loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Yield: 2 loaves (6 slices each).

Nora Sweat, author of Mama and Me is a native of Hardin County and a retired home economics/family and consumer science teacher. She can be reached at norasweat@thenewsenterprise.com or by mail at 408 W. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown KY 42701