As mid-August arrives, people start to wonder what things still need attention in backyards that haven’t been addressed, including the arrival of a new brownie recipe with chopped rhubarb this summer.
The beauty and charm of healthy rhubarb plants in my garden has always been celebrated until this summer’s extreme temperatures caused their stems to wilt overnight. The heat also affected my basil, Italian parsley, oregano, thyme, rosemary and other favorite herbs, while the tiniest insects seemed to multiply overnight.
With other thoughts on a season of favorite recipes, the decision was made to look for summer favorites to prepare and enjoy, starting with the rhubarb brownie recipe shared by reader Mike Repas and described as a “rich, fudgy chocolate and brown butter batter with pieces of fresh rhubarb.” If your rhubarb stalks have already been rescued from the intensity of this summer’s heat to wash, slice, and freeze them in the future, you might want to consider thawing and slicing enough to fill a cup. to make the first brownie recipe I’ve ever seen with… rhubarb.
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½ teaspoon baking powder
Gently cook the butter over medium heat until it starts to turn a light golden color. Stir frequently as it begins to color to prevent it from burning. Remove from fire. Meanwhile, grease an 8-inch square baking dish and preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, flour, baking powder, and cocoa powder. Stir the egg and milk into the browned butter. Then stir in the dry ingredients until just blended. Fold in the chopped rhubarb. Scoop into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through.
With fresh rhubarb in mind, described as a delicious way to use the plant straight from the garden, here’s a recipe from the “Celebrated Seasons” cookbook published in 1987 by the Junior League of Minneapolis.
Rhubarb Strawberry Crumble
4 cups diced rhubarb (inch pieces)
1 cup fresh whole strawberries
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine rhubarb, strawberries, and ½ cup sugar. Pour the mixture into a 9-inch square pan. Combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and egg in a medium bowl. Mix until crumbly. Sprinkle over fruit. Drizzle with melted butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until browned. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
This exquisite recipe is described in Phillip Stephen Schulz’s “Celebrating America” cookbook as “the world’s best zucchini muffins recipe.”
Zucchini Muffin Gems
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup shredded zucchini (about ¼ pound)
¼ cup raisins, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine sugar, egg and oil. Mix well. In a medium bowl, sift flour with baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Stir this through the sugar-egg mixture. Add zucchini, raisins, and pecans and stir only until blended; don’t overwork. Spoon the batter into a well-buttered 9-cup muffin tin, filling each cup about two-thirds full. Bake until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Run a knife around the edges to loosen.
If you’re passionate about blueberry muffins, this might just be the most popular muffin in the entire country; said Schulz, who seasons these muffins with grated orange zest.
1 cup blueberries, picked
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup milk (or half milk and half buttermilk)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease the cups of a 12 muffin muffin tin. Toss blueberries with ¼ cup flour in a bowl. Put aside. Sift the remaining flour with the sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the egg, orange zest, butter and milk. Fold in blueberries. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, filling each cup about two-thirds full. Bake until golden brown and firm, 20-25 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes before removing the muffins from the tin. Makes about 12 muffins.
Here’s another Schulz favorite that makes a delicious brunch dish any time of year with reader Isabel Hubbard in mind.
Fettucine with walnuts and avocados
¼ cup sherry wine vinegar
¹⁄³ cup diced sun-dried tomatoes
½ cup chopped fresh basil
¼ cup diced green bell pepper
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1¼ pounds dry fettuccine
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the fettuccine and toss well. Cook the pasta in boiling water until just tender. Drain well. Add to the bowl and toss while the pasta is still hot. Serve immediately. Serves 6.
Rodale’s Zucchini with Garlic and Oregano
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
¾ teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of ground black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese, optional
Trim the zucchini and cut into 1 inch slices. In large skillet over medium heat, warm oil. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds or just until fragrant. Add zucchini and mix. Add tomato and oregano. Stir well to mix. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until zucchini softens. Add salt and pepper and stir gently to mix. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese before serving, optional.
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