"Aaah, rhubarb" the cashier sighed as I bought the first stalks of last season. "I looovvvee rhubarb. I grew up on a farm in Minnesota and every spring my mother would make rhubarb pie".
"Aaah, rhubarb", the cashier sighed this morning as I bought the first stalks of this season. "When we were growing up, me and my brother used to dip it in sugar and eat it raw, right from the garden".
Aaah, rhubarb. I remember eating my first slice of rhubarb pie while playing cards on my friend's porch. I was reluctant to try it because I'd never heard of such a thing and was sure it would taste terrible. My friend's mother talked me into accepting a piece, and I was shocked at how delicious it was.
"Blech, rhubarb!" I've heard before. "My mother used to make stewed rhubarb every year. Just thinking about it makes me gag".
"She could have chosen any pie in the world to make, and she always made rhubarb. I mean, come on- rhubarb?!"
Aaah, rhubarb. Welcome, Spring!
Rhubarb Ice Cream
2 1/2 lb rhubarb, chopped into 1/2" pieces (should yield 8 cups)
1 1/2 c sugar
1/2 c water
12 large egg yolks
2 c milk
2 c heavy cream
large pinch of salt
1/3 piece of vanilla bean, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
juice of one lemon, or to taste (optional)
Combine rhubarb with 1/2 cup sugar and the water and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb is soft. Puree, place into a large bowl, and combine with the heavy cream. Set aside.
Scald the milk with 1/2 of the remaining sugar, vanilla bean if using, and the salt. Meanwhile, whisk together the yolks with the rest of the sugar, whisk a small amount of the hot milk into the yolks, then slowly whisk in the rest of the milk. Put mixture back into pot and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of your spoon. Immediately strain into the rhubarb and heavy cream mixture, and add vanilla extract, if using. Chill for at least four hours, retaste, and adjust seasonings as necessary. If the tartness of the rhubarb has mellowed too much for your liking, stir in lemon juice to taste. Freeze according to ice cream manufacturer's instructions.
yield: 2 quarts