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Rhubarb Mania!

I’ve been a little MIA. I got knocked out with a flu (not swine) and haven’t cooked anything in over a week. Funny how quickly we can lose all interest in food.  The good news is that I am feeling better and returning to a normal schedule. Luckily, there are some things I cooked a couple of weeks ago that I still have not told you about.

My counter runneth over with rhubarb in recent weeks. A combination of impulse buying at the market and a generous gift from my friend Karin’s mom had me faced with a few pounds of rhubarb that I needed to do something with.

My first solution was to make some delicious blini which I served with some whipped cream and a simple rhubarb sauce to accompany. I was attracted to this recipe for a couple of reasons, not the least of which was the fact that these little silver dollars can be frozen! I was skeptical when I read this but it turns out to be true. I froze a couple of stacks and they defrosted and reheated perfectly. This could be especially useful if you want to serve these to guests but don’t want to spend your time forming blini while they anxiously wait.

I also made a chilled rhubarb soup, which I loved. Cold dessert soups are such a refreshing end to a summer meal and this one is simple to make but complexly flavored thanks to the addition of ginger. It was especially good with some sliced strawberries or whole raspberries floating in the soup. A sprinkle of candied pistachios would also be lovely. Either way you go, rhubarb remains one of my favorite kitchen ingredients and I have been glad to have them around.

Rhubarb Soup (recipe by Claudia Fleming)

Combine all of the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to break down the rhubarb. Force the soup through a medium sieve, discarding the solids.

Pour the soup into a bowl and let cool completely. Chill the soup until cold, at least 3 hours. Serve cold.

Blini (recipe by Claudia Fleming)

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, yeast, and salt. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolk. Slowly drizzly the oil into the egg yolk, whisking constantly so the mixture emulsifies like mayo. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the egg mixture and milk. Whisk well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 1 1/2- 2 hours.

In a metal bowl, beat the egg white with an electric beater until soft peaks form. Fold the egg white into the risen blini batter.

Heat a heavy, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brush the pan lightly with butter. Add about 2 tablespoons of the batter to the pan for each blini, forming little pancakes. Cook until the bottoms are golden and small bubbles appear on the top, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook until just browned on the other side, about a minute. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Continue making blini with the remaining batter. The blini can be enjoyed immediately or frozen for up to 1 week.  Wrap them in foil and reheat in a 350 oven before serving.

These were great served with some simple rhubarb compote (I cooked down some sliced rhubarb with sugar, orange juice, orange zest and a cinnamon stick) and a little whipped cream or crème fraîche but would also be delicious with other fruits or in a savory presentation.