Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Vanilla rhubarb soda or rhubarb bellini or...

I love this. It embodies the very best of what I love about cooking and food.

Simplicity. Taste. Versatility.

What am I talking about? Rhubarb syrup. You can't get any simpler than this. Best of all, you use every bit. After cooking down the rhubarb, use the syrup for making amazing vanilla rhubarb soda or bellinis. You can use the pulp as jam or ice cream topping. If you haven't already made something like this, you're going to swoon. Promise.

By the way, I have a shameful admission for a self-professed foodie. This is my first rhubarb encounter. Before it showed up in my CSA box, I don't think I'd recognize rhubarb if you'd bopped me on the head with it. Of course, I'd had it in pie, usually of the strawberry rhubarb variety. But by then, it had been cooked down into indistinguishable lumps. Did you know that rhubarb looks like beautifully rosy celery? Who knew?

Simple rhubarb syrup
Adapted from the kitchn and The New York Times

4 cups rhubarb, chopped crosswise into thin slices
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
approx. 1/4 vanilla pod, sliced lengthwise

Combine rhubarb, sugar, water, and vanilla pod into saucepot. Bring to a boil. Cover and turn down to a simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb has broken down and the liquid has thickened.

Let cool. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve or cheesecloth. Refrigerate pulp and syrup separately. Use within one week.

This turned out to be very sweet. Syrupy sweet, in fact. Next time, I might dial back the sugar just a bit. Then again, it was syrupy perfection.

The pulp wasn't very photogenic, but made an amazing topping for a buttered multigrain English muffin. An easy, delicious start to the day.

Add 1 part rhubarb syrup to 4 parts sparkling water for an all-natural, unusual, delicious soda. The girls both gave it two thumbs up. I don't remember how they pulled off this contortionist feat while guzzling the soda down as fast as possible.

And if you're feeling a bit more celebratory (or have a more adult audience), mix 1 part rhubarb syrup to 4 parts prosecco. One sip immediately flung me back to my college days, downing bellinis with friends at Birraporetti's. This rhubarb bellini is even better.

The possibilities for rhubarb syrup cocktails are endless. Next on my to-try list might be rhubarb whiskey sours. Or these rhubarb mojitos. Cheers!


  1. That looks so good! The schmear looks like a perfect accompaniment to an english muffin, and those drinks look so refreshing! My parent's old house(now my brother's house) had wild rhubarb growing in the woods behind the house. I'll have to check to see if I can harvest any in a couple of weeks when I'm visiting him. Sounds delicious!

    Thanks again for picking me to win the cookbook! I've been reading it since it arrived this afternoon. I love how Joanne explains her circuitous route to becoming a chef - how she went to Harvard because culinary school would have been out of the question for her old school asian parents. Obviously this sentiment resonates for me. Can't wait to adapt some of the recipes.

  2. fanciness! looks greeeeaaat!

  3. Lax, you're welcome, but I didn't do anything (but hit return on! Maybe you should have also picked up a few lottery tickets. :) Anyway, I'm so glad you received it and are enjoying it! The whole old-school Asian thing resonates for me too. Alas not the Harvard thing or the published cookbook author thing!

    Thanks, Deva!

  4. Ha! I meant the old school Asian parents, I definitely didn't go to Harvard either.

  5. Yum! Rhubarb is something my garden does pretty well with. I will have to try some of this!


Thanks so much for commenting. I love reading your thoughts and responses.