Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: A sweet and sour delight

Strawberries and rhubarb make a delectable combination in a wide variety of desserts

Right now our area is blessed with a great supply of fresh rhubarb and delicious strawberries.

Rhubarb is packed with minerals, vitamins, organic compounds and other nutrients that make it ideal for keeping us healthy. The same can be said of strawberries. If you’re not already a fan, you should be. They are juicy, summery and delicious, and a bona fide superfood. Nutrient-rich and packed with antioxidants, strawberries offer a wide range of health benefits.

Today I have very easy and quick recipes using a combination of strawberries and rhubarb. The first is a streusel pie which can be made all year round using your frozen fruits. The second is a no-hassle mix-and-bake dessert much like the old-fashioned cake Grandma often made for dessert. I’m sure you’ll enjoy both.

Strawberry Rhubarb Streusel Pie

3 cups chopped fresh rhubarb (or frozen, thawed)

1 cup sliced fresh strawberries (or frozen, thawed)

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons flour

1⁄2 teaspoon lemon juice

1-9” unbaked pie shell

Topping:

2⁄3 cup flour

1⁄2 cup brown sugar, packed

1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1⁄3 cup hard margarine or 1⁄3 cup butter

Combine fruit, sugar, flour and lemon juice and stir well. Turn into pie shell.

To make topping; combine dry ingredients and cut in margarine or butter until crumbly.

Sprinkle over rhubarb mixture.

Bake at 375 F for about 50 minutes.

Cut into 8 wedges.

Rhubarb-Strawberry Pudding Cake

1⁄4 cup water

1-1⁄2 teaspoons cornstarch

1⁄3 cup sugar, plus 1⁄2 cup sugar

2 cups chopped fresh rhubarb stalks (10 ounces)

1 cup chopped fresh strawberries (5 ounces)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1-3⁄4 teaspoons baking powder

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1⁄2 cup whole milk

1⁄2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400 F.  Butter an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish.

Stir together water, cornstarch and 1/3 cup sugar in a small saucepan, then stir in rhubarb. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, then simmer, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in strawberries.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl.

Whisk together egg, milk, butter and vanilla in a large bowl, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined.  Reserve 1/2 cup fruit mixture, then add remainder to baking dish and pour batter over it, spreading evenly. Drizzle reserved 1/2 cup fruit mixture over batter.

Bake until a wooden pick inserted into centre of cake portion comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes before serving.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every other Wednesday and one Sunday per month.