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Welcome to delicious Destinations, a GourmetStation blog. Through the charater of T.Alexander and occasional real-life guests, our aim is to share with you light-hearted fun ideas about food, gift giving, entertaining and culture. At the same time we would love you hear from you. Please share your experiences from home or abroad.

Rhubarb Barb - A Tart Sensation

Posted: August 2, 2006
by: Mark Stine

Growing up as a child, one of my strongest recollections about desserts was the tart taste of rhubarb pie. My grandmother made them, my father had a liking for them and he continued the tradition. Unfortunately, living in tropical, Mediterranean and desert climates as I have for the last 15 years, is not terribly conducive to growing rhubarb, which likes damper, wetter and cooler growing conditions.

So I had to forget that wonderful dessert taste sensation, until I discovered that a friend from Ohio, living in sunny California would stalk the grocery stores looking for rhubarb to make its annual appearance. Barbschultz

Her name is Barb …her mission rhu-Barb. Actually the word rhubarb dates back to early Latin times and referred to an area where the plant grew and on the other side of the river, no man’s land as it were, where the “barb”- arians lived. Not meant to be disparaging about the taste of rhubarb!

Now Barb and I go back “aways” …what with us being lifeguards at the local Greene Valley Recreation Club in Beavercreek, Ohio, back in circa “never mind”. She had that Midwest – upper Midwest up bringing and pies were a natural part of her baking heritage.

Barb is a purist, she doesn’t fuss up her rhubarb pie with other fruits as many other recipes do, masking the tart flavor with, of all things strawberry infusions. She also reminded me that she has a rhubarb pie in her freezer, just waiting for me to drop by her greater LA home.

That and a recent reference to rhubarb pies in the “Prairie Home Companion” movie by “Rhonda and Yolanda” , fictional characters played by Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin, sparked my interest in sharing this wonderfully tart treat. So nice to eat in the summer, if you have a friend with one in the freezer for you!

So here it goes…Barb’s version of rhubarb pie!

Rhubarb Pie

4 cups rhubarb stalks cut into 1/2" pieces
1 1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1-2 tablespoons butter
Unbaked pastry for 2-crust 9" pie (recipe follows)
Mix the rhubarb with the flour, sugar and orange rind. Turn into
pastry-lined pan. Dot with butter. Trim the edge of the pastry to within an
inch of the edge of the pan. Top with second crust, trim the edge and crimp
the top and bottom edges together. Cut slits in the top for steam to
release. Brush milk or half and half on the top crust and sprinkle with
granulated sugar. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 350
degrees and bake an additional 25-30 minutes or longer. You may want to
cover the crimped edges with tinfoil to prevent over-browning. If so, remove
the tinfoil for the last 15 minutes of baking.

Pie Crust

The original recipe for this crust used only unbleached white flour; I have
adapted it to use part white, part whole wheat, which gives the crust a
nuttier flavor.

1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
1/4 cup very cold water (approximate*)

Stir the flours and salt together. Add the shortening and cut it through the
flour with a pastry blender until the mixture is in pea-sized pieces. Add
the water a few tablespoons at a time, and mix with a fork to combine
evenly. The dough should be moist enough to hold together in a ball. Note
that the addition of the whole wheat flour will tend to make the crust a bit
more crumbly and hard to handle, so a few extra sprinkles of water may be
Divide the dough in half and roll each piece out on a floured surface. Turn
the first crust in to the pan, trim, add the filling, then the top crust and

* the amount of water required depends on the type of flour, the temperature
of the mixture, and even the ambient humidity. If the dough seems too soft,
chill it in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.

And Barb says, “That's it -- go ye forth and bake! “
The base recipe for this pie came from "James Beard's American Cookery".

And remember…you always have the option this summer of turning to GourmetStation to come up with some excellent dessert choices for your afternoon or evening soirées. My favorites are the Chocolate-raspberry cheesecake, Crème Brule cheesecake and Praline Pecan cheesecake.  So take a look and find your favorites, there are many other options sure to catch your imagination and provide that special summer memory.

Your Comments

I was happy to see that rhubarb was in the LA area, I live up towards Sacramento, and attempting to locate rhubarb at the grocery stores. Have tried Raley,s, Albertson's, Bel Air, Holiday, Trader Joe's with no luck. Any Suggestions???

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