Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Rhubarb and Black Pepper Shortbread Bars


Last weekend found me in Chicago for another family occasion. I haven't seen this much family in years! There was not a spare moment to be had and I came home exhausted and playing catch up. It wasn't until Sunday afternoon that Zoe and I finally made it into the city. We set off on Michigan Avenue, took a few quick pics at Millenium Park,


grabbed some Garret's caramel corn and headed to Eataly.

We perused the offerings and dreamily wished there was one located in each of our home towns. Monday morning found us at Little Goat and wishing we had room for one of everything. I had the "One Little Piggy went to China" which was a biscuit topped with Asian chorizo, a fried egg and a green onion sauce with blackberries on top. Heaven on a biscuit. Maybe that would bring Manboy home.


It was then off to the Art Institute,


 a quick lunch at the University Club,


and then because Zoe can not be held back, a trip up State Street to grab a donut ice cream sandwich at Fire Cakes before we caught a cab to Midway. I love the Windy City and it was true to its name. Chicago always reminds me of happy things, because as a child we often went there for special occasions. I love going back and hope it won't be too long before I can visit again.

But on to rhubarb. Rhubarb is something  that grew in our neighbor's yard. It is something I did not eat, though I also think it is something my mother did not share. Besides stealing the neighbor's peonies, my mother also stole the rhubarb. Yes, my mother is a thief of things, in the shade of pink. I can remember her going through the bushes, scissors in hand and cutting from each plant so the theft didn't look obvious. Why my mother never asked Frances if she could have some is beyond me. I am sure she wouldn't have minded. After all, she did let us play Cowboys and Indians in her yard.

Maybe that's why rhubarb always seemed so mysterious.  Mom never served it to us and if I recall she only made stewed rhubarb, which wasn't particularly appealing to me. It wasn't until last year that I had my first taste of rhubarb. Someone brought me a rhubarb crumble that was particularly delicious. And pretty. And we all know everything is pretty in pink.


My first official taste found me wondering why I had waited so long. The slightly sour fruit left a tang in my mouth that found me wanting more. So this year when rhubarb became available I was ready. I used rhubarb in tzimmes which is a Jewish dish traditionally made of prunes, carrots and sweet potatoes. It may or may not have meat. I threw in some rhubarb and thought it was pretty good. Yes, it was also the first time I made tzimmes, as I never liked that as a kid either!

And then I made these shortbread bars with a rhubarb, black pepper topping. I was amazed that the rhubarb keeps its pretty pink color. These bars are luscious, easy to make and quickly disappear. Using a shortbread crust and then topping it with a rhubarb, strawberry jam mixture made such a delightful dessert. Though these are bars, they are sticky; so I suggest serving them as dessert with a scoop of ice cream. I added some black pepper to the strawberry jam and found that pepper has an affinity for rhubarb and vanilla.

Grab some rhubarb. Don't hesitate. The world of rhubarb awaits!


Rhubarb and Black Pepper Shortbread Bars
Makes 1 13 x 9 pan
About 20 minutes to prepare and 55 minutes to bake

Ingredients:
2 c flour
2/3 c powdered sugar
1 c softened butter

1 1/2 t salt
1/2 c flour
2 1/2 c sugar
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t allspice
4 eggs
1/2 c strawberry jam
4 1/2 c chopped rhubarb

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350.
Make crust by combining flour and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Cut in softened butter until mixture resembles small crumbs. Grease a 13 x 9 pan and pat mixture into pan. Put into oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove.

To make topping: Combine salt, flour, sugar, black pepper and allspice. In a large mixing cup beat eggs with jam. Stir into flour mixture and mix well. Stir in chopped rhubarb and mix well. Spread topping onto shortbread crust. Return to oven and bake for 55 minutes. Let cool. Serve with ice cream or not. Store in refrigerator.

A Few More to Try:
Microwave Caramel Corn
Strawberry Spiral Biscuit Pie
Chicken Vesuvio





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15 comments:

  1. Chicago is a great town! The winter winds and cold would be too much for me, but it's really a fun place. In an earlier life I used to travel there at least twice a year for business -- always loved it. And I love rhubarb, so I'm loving these shortbread bars, too. Really a nice recipe -- don't think I've seen anything like it before.Gotta tell Mrs KR about it (she's the baker). Thanks!

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  2. I wish I had picked up some rhubarb when I visited the market earlier today...these shortbread bars look mouthwatering, Abbe.

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  3. My dad grew up in Chicago, so road trips to visit my grandparents and cousins were always a highlight of our year. LOL at your mom---we had plenty of rhubarb in our yard and I loved my mom's sauce and pies. Wish Bill would eat rhubarb, but I'll think of an excuse to make these bars :)

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  4. I hate to admit it, but although I have flown in and out of Chicago several times I have never left the airport and enjoyed it first hand. So glad you had such a great time with your Zoe. I am new to rhubarb too only trying about 5 years ago.My first recipe was sour cherry rhubarb bars that were pure tart, crunchy heaven. These look amazing.

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  5. Love your photos! I enjoyed a trip to Chicago about 4 years ago - it was super windy and cold with a capital "C"! Looks like a wonderful trip with family and Zoe. Love this shortbread - especially with the ice cream - well done! I never ate rhubarb until I was older either. Kids probably don't like it anyway :)

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  6. You look like you had so much fun with your Zoe! and those rhubarb bars...YUM. i bet the black pepper really brings out the flavor of the rhubarb. I haven't gotten my hands on any yet this year, but i plan to.

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  7. Oh wow these looks soooo beautiful! You really managed to showcase that glorious color, I need to steal some rhubarb asap!

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  8. We love taking day trips to Chicago and one has been long overdue. Much more fun when the weather is warmer! Your certainly made the most of your visit with all of the stop you made. I am so exciting to have my rhubarb growing taller each day but it will still be a couple of weeks before the stalks are ready to cut. This will be one of the first things I make! They sound wonderful, Abbe.

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    Replies
    1. I had to come back and look at your post after you mentioned it in your comment :) So many wonderful rhubarb recipes! Using jam must add some nice sweetness to these bars.

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  9. Like the Windy City for you rhubarb reminds me of special occasions in my childhood, namely visiting my Great Grandma Hubbard in Tahlequah, OK who grew the stuff in big bunches around the trees in her yard. Thanks for the memories. GREG

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  10. These rhubarb bars look amazing...and I absolutely love the black pepper in it...amazing combination of flavors.
    I was in Chicago back in November for a meeting...it was so cold that I just went from the hotel to the convention center and vice-versa...did not bother to go anywhere...luckily I had been to Chicago before...
    Enjoy the rest of your week Abbe :)

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  11. Omigosh...this looks so yummy, Abbe. I've never been excited about rhubarb, but you've just about changed my mind with these pictures. And thank you for always sharing stories with us. I love reading about your adventures! Have a great week. xo ^.^

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  12. Loving the flavours and deliciousness of rhubarb! Adding a bit of black pepper too to give it a kick sounds like a great idea. Reuniting is so much fun and it looks like despite the cooler weather had a great time.

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  13. Wow, these photos are making my mouth water!

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  14. Amazing bars Abbe! Chicago is a beautiful city. beautiful photos as well ! have a great weekend !

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