Home plate: Rhubarb, a versatile veggie

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The Pie Plant, as Edie Branstrom of Osage refers to the glorious, spring, versatile vegetable, is emerging. The tart stalks can be transformed into muffins, bars cakes - or wine - with the wave of the whisk.

Rhubarb-Applesauce

Muffins

2 eggs

1 1/3 cup brown sugar

1 ¼ cups applesauce

½ cup canola oil

2 cups flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups rhubarb, cut in small pieces

Mix together. Pour into paper-lined muffin tins and bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Makes 18.

Rhubarb Pie

4 cups chopped rhubarb

1 1/3 cups white sugar

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon butter

1 recipe pastry for a 9- inch double crust pie

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Combine sugar and flour. Sprinkle 1/4 of it over pastry in pie plate. Heap rhubarb over this mixture. Sprinkle with remaining sugar and flour. Dot with small pieces of butter. Cover with top crust.

Place pie on lowest rack in oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 40 to 45 minutes. Serve warm or cold.


Rhubarb Cheesecake

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 cup butter

3 cups chopped rhubarb

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese

1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup butter. Mix until crumbly and pat into the bottom of a 9- inch springform pan.

In a medium bowl, toss together the chopped rhubarb, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon flour. Pour onto crust. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar until creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Pour over hot rhubarb in the pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until filling is set. Cover with sour cream topping while still hot.

To make the sour cream topping: In a small bowl, combine 1 cup sour cream, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix well and spread on top of cake.

Rhubarb Strawberry Crunch

1 cup white sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups sliced fresh strawberries

3 cups diced rhubarb

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup butter

1 cup rolled oats

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix white sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, strawberries, and rhubarb. Place the mixture in a 9x13-inch baking dish.

Mix 1 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, butter, and oats until crumbly. You may want to use a pastry blender for this. Crumble on top of the rhubarb and strawberry mixture.

Bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until crisp and lightly browned.

Rhubarb Jam

2 ½ pounds fresh rhubarb, chopped

2 cups white sugar

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

1/3 cup orange juice

½ cup water

In a saucepan, combine the rhubarb, sugar, orange zest, orange juice and water. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium-low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until thick. It will thicken more as it cools.

Ladle into hot sterile jars, and seal with lids and rings. Store opened jars in the refrigerator.