Is it a fruit or is it a vegetable? Almost as fiercely debated as the tomato plant, rhubarb has left many people questioning its status as a fruit or veggie, wondering how it can claim a spot in so many sweet desserts if it is in fact a member of the leafy veggie family (fyi: it is!). But politics aside, absolutely nothing goes better with strawberries than rhubarb. When I heard utterances of an early strawberry harvest, I chuckled to myself “Strawberries? In May!? My foot!” But lo and behold, there they were, staring back at me from their little green baskets, begging to be combined with neighbouring stalks of pink rhubarb for a sweet and tart slice of pie heaven. But strawberry rhubarb pie all of a sudden seemed so cliche. The entire twitter-verse made strawberry rhubarb pie last week - it’s the classic rhubarb fallback plan. I once spent a summer with my cousins near Collingwood, picking quarts and quarts of the sweet red berries, which led to a frenzy of baking and resulted in about 10 strawberry rhubarb pies. Now don’t get me wrong - set a strawberry rhubarb pie in front of me and watch it disappear - it’s the perfect combination of sweet and tart, but feeling the heat from the unusual May sun, I opted for a cool, creative, and simple strawberry rhubarb sorbet instead!
On Wednesday evening, I had the pleasure of eating and drinking some succulent Ontario fare at the third annual Brewers’ Plate. The event drew out some of Ontario’s finest celebrity chefs and fine craft brewers - from Jamie Kennedy, to Brad Long, from The Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery and Cameron’s, to Great Lakes and Mill Street. What fascinated me most about the event was its set-up - each brewery was paired with a chef and their restaurant, combining to create taste explosions on your palate, much like the moment of fusion between strawberry and rhubarb. Chef Marc Breton of the Gladstone Hotel’s potato and fish salad paired perfectly with a Steam Whistle pilsner. A Sweet Lemon Tea brew from Mill Street complemented a crispy appetizer of crostini topped with beef slices. A stewed bison taco coupled perfectly with a Wellington brew. I’ve never put much thought into pairing alcohol with foods, but even the evening’s desserts were matched up with heavenly brews. Now I’m wondering, is it weird to pair beer with sorbet? I’m thinking probably not. What brew would you pair with this sweet, tart-y strawberry rhubarb sorbet? Try this amazingly simple recipe with your kids, and cool off under the hot summer sun!
Strawberry Rhubarb Sorbet
2-3 stalks rhubarb
3 cups strawberries
1/3 cup sugar (variable)
¼ cup water
1 tbsp. alcohol (vodka, rum, etc.)
1. Chop rhubarb into small pieces, and place them in a pot filled with ¼ cup water. Cover pot and allow rhubarb to cook and get soft, for about 10 minutes.
2. When rhubarb has softened, add sugar, lemon juice, and alcohol to the pot, then mix.
3. Pour the rhubarb mixture into a food processor and blend until smooth.
4. Hull strawberries, and add them directly to the rhubarb mixture in the food processor. Blend the mixture until you have a uniform, smooth strawberry rhubarb combination. Taste the mix and decide whether or not it is sweet enough. You can add sugar to the processor at this stage if it suits you.
5. Pour the strawberry rhubarb mixture into a shallow metal pan, and place into freezer for 2-3 hours, or until nearly solid.
6. Remove pan from fridge, break the sorbet into large chunks, and return chunks to the food processor. As a result, you will have a smooth, almost soft-serve type sorbet. Scoop the sorbet into an air-tight container, and pop it back into the freezer for an hour.
7. Pop a leaf mint on top, and serve!