Strawberry loves Rhubarb

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Most of the time I don’t make it home from the farmers market with any strawberries.  I buy them alright, and with good intentions too, but if I’m really honest with you I just stand in front of the farmers stall and eat them all.  After the 30 seconds it takes me to devour a pint I peek up to find astonished looks from everyone around, so I buy another pint with equally honest intentions. More than likely, that doesn’t happen either.  C’est la vie.

Several rounds later I head home with sticky hands and tell-tale juice drips and debate whether I can convince people that I meant to serve just “shortcake” without the strawberries???

This is in my opinion a completely justifiable activity, real tiny juicy flavorful strawberries are around for such a short time that doing anything but eating them straight from the box is almost unthinkable.  Sometimes though, I do manage to save a few, or in the case of a bumper crop freeze some.  When that does happen I head straight for my front stoop and start pulling at my rhubarb plant. Nothing sets off the concentrated sweetness of fresh strawberries like a bit of sour.  Sure, lemon is nice but it’s not nearly as interesting or complex as that stringy celery-like vegetable rhubarb.

Really the best of all worlds is just to cook this wonderful pair of friends together gently, whip a little cream or just dollop some greek yogurt and sit on your front porch congratulating yourself for your simplistic genius in the kitchen.  However should you make a little extra might I suggest that a waffle is the perfect foil for this sweet and sour charmer, not to mention a little home-churned frozen yogurt,

or if you’re feeling really ambitious, baked into a jammy tart such as this almond crusted linzer torte.

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Strawberry Loves Rhubarb
(Strawberry Rhubarb Compote)

3 ribs rhubarb (about 1/2 lb)
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup of sugar (I like evaporated cane sugar)
1/4 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp almond extract (I love this, if you don’t like almonds; orange extract, lemon extract, or vanilla are great too)
1 quart strawberries, frozen can work in a pinch
2 TB unsalted butter

Wash the rhubarb and cut off any dirty looking ends.  Slice the rhubarb thinly against the grain (the opposite directions of the strings).  Simmer the rhubarb with the water, sugar and salt in a saucepan over medium heat about 5 minutes.  The rhubarb will soften but won’t fall apart.

While the rhubarb is simmering cut off the strawberry stems and slice thinly. If you are using frozen just thaw the strawberries and don’t bother to slice.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the strawberries, almond extract, and butter.  Stir the mixture until the butter has melted and the mixture is glossy.  Enjoy!!

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