Thursday, August 20, 2009
If You Auto-translate, You Probably Won't Get It
If I told you a joke that began with "Two guys walked into a bar..." you'd know exactly what kind of bar I meant. Although they could have walked into a chin-up bar, clonked their foreheads and passed out, it's much more likely that they walked into an establishment that serves alcoholic beverages. Bar is a potentially confusing word because it has so many meanings. Bar the way into a room. A steel bar. A sand bar. A bar of light. Bar exams. A ballet bar. If you read music, you know what the bar lines are. A salad bar. Bar none. See what I mean?
When I found a recipe in a cookbook for Strawberry Rhubarb Bars, I felt I was on pretty firm footing. Obviously, a bar in a cookbook is going to be a cookie. That's a given. Even in a cookbook with no pictures. And since I'm all about cookies and I had some rhubarb gifted to me from a kind neighbor, I set about making them. Easy enough - a shorbready base, a fruit layer, and then crumbles on top. They smelled heavenly cooking, and I pulled them out of the oven and let them cool to room temperature.
But when I tried to slice my bars, what the hey? These are not cookies, people. This is a crumble. Or a slump, or a grunt, or a cobbler, or whatever you'd like to call it. But please do not call these bars! They just aren't. They're delicious, fruity, gooey, sloppy, oozy, but you would never mistake them for a bar cookie. You can't neatly slice and serve a bar of these. You just have to scoop some of the fragrant, tart-sweet fruity mess on a plate, preferably with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and dig in with a fork. Or a spoon. Just don't expect a cookie and you won't be disappointed.
Strawberry Rhubarb Bars
- adapted from Pure Flavor by Kurt Beecher Dammeier
1-1/2 cups plus 3 to 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp table salt
12 Tbsp (1-1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
3/4 cup plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp orange extract or 1 tsp grated orange zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 lbs rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
1-1/2 cups straberries, hulled and sliced, or frozen strawberries, thawed and sliced
1- Preheat oven to 350 deg. with a rack in the center of the oven.
2- In a large bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups of the flour and the powdered sugar and salt. Cut the butter inot the flour mixture using a pastry blender or fork. The mixture should resemble coarse crumbs and clump together when squeezed lightly in your hand. You can also do this in a food processor.
3- Put 2 cups of the mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish and press evenly into the pan with your fingers. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until golden brown on the edges and light golden in the middle.
4- While the crust is baking, add 1/3 cup granulated sugar to the remaining butter-flour mixture and toss (or pulse in food processor) to combine. Set aside.
5- In a large bowl, combine 3/4 cup granulated sugar and the ground cloves. Stir in 3 to 4 Tbsp flour (adding more flour will make the filling firmer when cool), the orange extract or zest, and the vanilla. Add the rhubarb and straberries, mixing well to coat the fruit. Pour the mixture onto the hot crust, spreading the filling to the edges of the dish. Sprinkle the reserved sugar mixture over the fruit. Bake for 50 minutes or until bubbling around the edges and light brown on top.
6- Let the bars cool to room temperature before cutting and serving.