As a child, I loved the sight of those beautiful blush-red stalks that appeared in regimented rows in the local grocer each spring. In my mother’s day, they were prized as a traditional ‘spring tonic’ (i.e. laxative) following winter’s stodgy food. She loved them stewed with sugar. Me not so much. I thought rhubarb mush was just this side of revolting until l was given a clump of rhubarb to grow myself. That’s when I began hunting for recipes — because I’m a Waste Not; Want Not kinda gal — and discovered rhubarb crisp with streusel topping, rhubarb chutney, which is great over cream cheese or beside sharp cheddar for a delicious spur-of-the-moment cocktail snack with crackers, and rhubarb-and-strawberry pie.Most people use rhubarb with strawberries, which should be coming into the market in another few weeks, and there are a couple of recipe links below. But my favorite rhubarb dessert is still the orange-and-ginger-infused crisp.
Add 2/3 cup brown sugar, or honey and brown sugar mixed, 1/4 cup cornstarch, the grated rind of an orange, 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger, a dash of nutmeg, a splash of Cointreau or other orange liqueur. Mix and dump into a casserole.
Into the food processor pur 3/4 cup of pecans (toasted if you like a more intense flavor), 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 4 tablespoons of sweet butter cut into a few pieces and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Process until the mixture is blended and crumbly, but not a homogeneous mess. (Or if you make the streusel in a bowl, chop the nuts, then mix the rest with your hands.)
Spread the mixture evenly over the rhubarb and flatten slightly. Bake at 350°F for about 40 minutes - the first 20 minutes with a tin foil cover, the second 20 minutes uncovered - until it's browned on top and bubbly. Serve warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream melting alongside. You can also add oatmeal to the streusel topping and serve it for breakfast - it's a whole lot more wholesome than a lot of processed stuff that advertisers try to convince us is the way to start the day.