Ramps and rhubarb. Fresh fava beans and fiddlehead ferns. These are the markers of spring that from my vantage point in Florida are usually only found in Instagram photos. I can like images of these ingredients, but do I get to cook with them? The facsimile doesn't taste so sweet.
The one seasonal produce darling I am able to find around here is also my favorite: rhubarb. When I get my hands on it, I treasure it. People who love pie and crumbles are probably familiar with the rosy fruit, but for those who aren't, rhubarb comes in long stalks that look like blushing celery.
Rhubarb is extremely tart, and so it's mostly cooked down with sugar to temper its bite. Biting into a stalk of rhubarb in its raw state would probably scrunch my face the way a sour Warhead candy used to. I'm guessing. I've never been brave enough to sink my teeth into uncooked rhubarb.
Instead, I chop the stalks and toss them in a bowl until they're glittering with sugar. I roast the fruit until it slumps under the weight of the oven's heat and a layer of buttery, brown crumble. Rhubarb can also be cooked down into a concentrated syrup that adds oomph and a rosy tint to cocktails or lemonade.
For unexpected brunches at my house, I try to keep a batch of biscuits in the freezer ready to go. To change it up in the spring, I decided to keep the freezer stocked with rhubarb scones instead of plain biscuits. This is a simple scone dough studded with rhubarb, but it's enough to make mornings special. These would be especially pretty and well-received for an upcoming Mother's Day brunch at home.
The first time I made these scones, my husband and I ate four of them in one day. The remaining two were tucked away unbaked in the freezer for a future scone emergency.
Ileana Morales Valentine can be reached at [email protected]