Jodi, one of my very best friends in the whole world texted me yesterday morning and wanted to know if she could come over and fish off my pier. Jodi and I grew up a block apart where our families both had homes on the lake. Both sets of parents eventually aged and the lake homes were sold. As Jodi grew up, got married, and had a family of her own, she settled down in a beautiful country setting about half-hour outside Madison. She’d always loved horses and there she could follow her passion of raising and training horses at the same time as raising and training their three beautiful children. However… the fact remains, that if you’ve grown up your entire life on the water… it never leaves you. Ever. You are a lake person for life. My circumstances were a little different than Jodi’s, as when I left home and got married, I moved around the country quite a bit with my husband’s career but after twenty-five years of raising our own family, we ended up back in my hometown… in the same neighborhood… on the lake. We actually settled just a block down from where my family home was. It truly was and is a dream come true. So… when Jodi calls and wants to come and fish off my pier… or go boating… or swimming… or anything of the sort… she is welcome absolutely any time at all. Upon arrival yesterday, she came as she usually does… never empty-handed. In addition to the 3 fishing poles, a couple of buckets, a drink and some sunscreen she was lugging, she also brought me some freshly picked, highly sought after morel mushrooms, as well as a bunch of equally fresh rhubarb from her farm.
Before we older-middle-aged women got settled in at our failed fishing mission (not even a strike!), Jodi came into the house and cut the morels in half and put them in a bowl of water to soak, proclaiming that we would have them for lunch. She threw the rhubarb down on the counter, weeds and all and I could do with it as I pleased. Okay so far!
To make a great morning even better, we called over a couple of our other very best childhood lake friends, Mari and Marsha, who also grew up with us in the neighborhood and happen to live… you guessed it… back in the neighborhood. Mari lives in her childhood home and came by boat. Marsha lives just one street over from where she grew up. After hanging out on the pier on a beautiful, sunny, calm morning, we all ended up in the kitchen, with Jodi cooking us up the morels she had breaded and fried. They were absolutely crazy-delicious. Though Jodi was too camera shy to let me include her in the picture, here is what her morels looked like…
Some people prefer not to bread morels before frying, as then you get more of the morel flavor and no coating flavor interferes… but I have to say, these tasted just fine to me!
I decided for the rhubarb, I would use a crumb tart recipe that I’ve made a zillion times from Anna Pump’s Country Weekend Entertaining cookbook with great success. I usually make it my favorite way with cranberries in the winter, but in the summer, I also make it using tart cherries. After much consideration, I really thought this would be the best treatment of choice for my newly acquired gift. There are many uses and wonderful baked goods to be made using rhubarb, but I’m glad I decided to go with this one. After making some adjustments to the sugar, the end result was phenomenal and I’ve posted the adjusted recipe below. I hope you can make this at least once!
Rhubarb Crumb Tart
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 cups fresh rhubarb, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
Grated rind of 1/2 orange
3/4 cup flour
To make the crust, place the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and butter in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 5 times. Add the egg yolks and water. Process until the dough forms a ball. Remove the dough, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
For the filling, in a bowl, combine the rhubarb, sugars, and orange rind. Transfer to the uncooked crust, making sure the sugar is evenly distributed among the berries. (It might seem like you have too much filling for the pan, but just spread it evenly and it will cook down a little.)
For the topping, place all the ingredients in a bowl and rub the mixture with your fingertips until it starts to cling together. Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the rhubarb filling. Place on a baking sheet before placing in oven to catch any drips – and there will be drips, so make sure to do this or don’t say you weren’t warned. 🙂
Bake for 45 minutes, or until the fruit is bubbling and the crumbs turn golden brown. Cool for 2 hours before serving.
(I serve with vanilla bean ice cream, but it’s great on its own, too!)