So here is the RHUBARB-APPLE BETTY, as promised in part 1 of my Amazing Race finale post. Why a Betty? You know, aside from the fact that Betty White hosted SNL the night before the AR finale (total coincidence - I had been planning to make the Betty - but maybe it was a subconscious gesture to honor BW?). In selecting an AR-inspired dish this week, I decided to make a dessert from a famous San Francisco chef, as the finish line was in San Francisco. Our main dish, a spring panzanella (see the first finale post for the recipe), was made using our farm-fresh veggies - very on theme because our farm also serves the San Francisco-Bay Area. I decided to make a dessert from "The Greens Cookbook" by Deborah Madison. Her restaurant, Greens, is a San Francisco institution (and also happens to be all-vegetarian). My wonderful husband was somehow psychically connected to my plans - he got me another Deborah Madison cookbook for Mother's Day (well, technically he facilitated the gift-giving, because the book is from our amazing dogs, Cosmo and Cooper. Yes, I am one of those kind of fur-moms). I was torn between the Betty and an intriguing-sounding Semolina Pudding with Blood Orange Syrup, however the latter seemed to require a bit more effort and is definitely out-of-season. That one is on the back burner until oranges come back into season. But I've mentally filed it in the "must make" file!
(Side note: The finish line was so cool. It was in Candlestick Park, where the San Francisco 49ers play - they are one of our clients, and I know some of the people who would have been involved in the logistics of making that happen. I was so excited! Ask me about my super amazing SUITE experience at the stadium! Wow.)
From what I can tell, the Betty is British in origin, and was popular in Colonial America. It's a type of baked fruit pudding, and the component that distinguishes the Betty from other fruit crisps, crumbles, buckles, and slumps is the bread crumbs. Sugared fruit is layered between buttery bread crumbs and baked. We ate ours with vanilla frozen yogurt, but you could also use cream or a creme anglaise sauce.
The Rhubarb-Apple Betty was tart and refreshing. I selected two tart green Granny Smith apples, along with a tart-sweet Pink Lady (my absolute favorite for snacking). Rhubarb is a beautiful red stalk from a perennial plant native to China, which looks very similar to celery but is unrelated. It is technically botanically a vegetable, because the part we consume is part of the actual plant, not the seed-containing fruit. And - brace yourself - the leaves contain oxalic acid and are therefore poisonous, so don't eat them! Nutritionally, rhubarb is very low in calories, about 26 calories per cup, and contains potassium, vitamin C, calcium, and dietary fiber. However, the calcium is combined with the oxalic acid, making it difficult for the body to absorb.Check out this neat rhubarb compendium site for more information than you ever needed to know about rhubarb!
Make sure you use fresh breadcrumbs, because they are such an essential part of the dish. Enjoy!
Adapted from Deborah Madison, "The Greens Cookbook"
1 pound rhubarb, washed, trimmed (use stalks only), and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 apples (use 2 good baking apples, like Mutsu or Granny Smith, plus a sweeter one, like Fuji or Pink Lady)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (to make, whiz fresh bread in a food processor)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Peel and core the apples, then slice thinly and add to a large bowl with the rhubarb. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Place the breadcrumbs in a medium bowl. Remove two tablespoons of the sugar mixture and add to the breadcrumbs, along with the melted butter, and toss. Add the larger amount of the sugar mix, plus the orange juice, to the fruit, and stir everything together.
Spray a non-metal baking dish with cooing spray (use glass or a ceramic/earthenware gratin dish) for assembling the Betty. Place half the breadcrumbs in the bottom of a baking dish, cover with all of the fruit mixture, then top with the remaining half of the breadcrumbs. Cover loosely with foil and bake covered for 20 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, until the fruit is tender. Serve warm with ice cream or cream.