Rhubarb Crisp
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 7:26PM

I have to admit, it came as a huge surprise to me that rhubarb is loved the world over. In my sheltered existence, I always imagined that this unusual harbinger of spring was an Eastern Long Island thing. Or a Polish farmer thing. Or a provincial thing.

So imagine my surprise when I was served rhubarb crisp for the first time in Sweden. The Swedes call it "rabarber paj" and often eat it with (unwhipped) heavy cream poured directly on it. 30 years later, it is still a perennial spring favorite in Sweden: it took me literally 2 seconds to find this recipe for rabarber paj med havre ( rhubarb crisp with oatmeal) in Dagens Nyheter, a large daily paper in Stockholm. As a matter of fact, 27 rhubarb recipes popped up when I did a search for rhubarb. Yup, the Swedes like their rhubarb -- but truth be told, so do I. 

Rhubarb season finally arrived in New York about 2 weeks ago. My first purchase was on Eastern LI. Andlast weekend, I purchased some in Manhattan -- for a king's random.  No matter. The growing session is short and one has to get it while it's still available.

Many recipes for fruit tarts, pies and crumbles call for flour or corn starch as a thickening agent. I prefer to use tapioca, which produces a silky filling, without clumps or a pasty after taste. The amount of sugar to add is really a matter of personal taste.  Rhubarb is very tart, so I would recommend a ratio of at least 3/4 cup sugar to every 4 cups of rhubarb. The crumb topping is a combination of oatmeal, brown sugar, flour and butter.

I love this dessert warm or cold. Sometimes I serve it with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, but it is also delicious plain.  One thing is for sure, if you have never baked with rhubarb before, this recipe will definitely make you a true disciple.

The printable recipe is here.

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