Havin’ a Fit of Spring Fever

Rhubarb and asparagus 2An unruly but quite productive rhubarb plant grows in my yard in Boston, so I’m always looking for ideas beyond my standard strawberry-rhubarb jam. I found this one in Signs of Good Taste by Ann Meade Besenfelder (2000), a book about restaurants in Richmond, Virginia’s historic Fan District, where my grandparents once lived. I spent many evenings grazing the salad bar set up in an old bathtub (yes, really!) at the Strawberry Street Café or downing after-work drinks at Joe’s Inn, two restaurants in the book and still in business. I somehow missed Helen’s, which opened in 1935 and is also still in business, but that didn’t stop me from trying its novel rhubarb preparation.

The complete recipe is titled “Seared American Foie Gras Havin’ A Fit of Spring Fever with Rhubarb-Ginger Coulis, Grilled Vidalia Onions, and Asparagus.” All sounded good, but there was no time to source and shop for foie gras, nor to fire up the grill. I chose just two of the components – coulis and asparagus (which I steamed), and I wasn’t disappointed. The slightly tangy coulis offset the grassy asparagus, and the colors complemented each other well, too. Not havin’ a fit, but havin’ a second helping! And a restaurant to try next time I’m in Richmond.

Rhubarb-Ginger Coulis (2000)
Makes about 3 cups

Rhubarb stalks

3 cups diced rhubarb (use the most vibrant red rhubarb)
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
1/2 medium Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar [I used Star brand rice vinegar from my pantry]
1/2 cup water

  1. Combine all ingredients [I used a 3 quart stainless steel pot] and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until very tender, about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Puree the mixture in a blender [I used an immersion blender right the pot] and strain through a fine sieve.
  4. Adjust the flavor with sugar and vinegar, seeking a sweet, yet slightly tart flavor. Use leftover sauce as a topping for pancakes or waffles, as it makes a nice breakfast spread.
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About heritagerecipebox

I am named after my great-grandmother, who only prepared two dishes, according to anyone who remembers: hamburgers shaped like squares and peanut butter sandwiches. Fast forward 100 years and 500 miles north from my hometown of Richmond, Virginia to Boston, Massachusetts. Somehow, I ended up with a cooking gene as well as an interest in history and family stories. I have worked as a journalist and published three cookbooks plus a memoir. This blog gives me a chance to share family recipes and stories -- and other American recipes with a past. What do you have to share?
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