The Story of a Stalk ... Rhubarb and Sage Shortbread

Rhubarb & sage cookies close 1

June 26, 2010 Update: This post was featured on FoodBuzz Top 9 today

Many people seem to have been interested in what I did with the one-stalk of rhubarb, I received last week. :) Well, here is the story...

Once I overcame the dismay at receiving such a diminutive quantity, I just couldn't stop laughing at the ridiculousness of it. Then, I transitioned to being stumped. I mean, what can I do with one lonely stalk?! I was torn.. Should I wait and see if I get another for company next week or should I just use the guy so he doesn't get lonelier and die on me?? You see, we don't know in advance what to expect. They only tell us two days before the next pick up date...

Rhubarb & Sage

If I was a plant psychologist, I could have had an in-depth conversation on the subject with the subject. But, time has driven home the point again and again that I am not one. Or atleast that part of me is pretty shy and so are, in general, the plant subjects (err.. emm.. I have a BLACK thumb :(( ). So, anyway, I lovingly laid it in my fridge and decided to not look at it until I had decided.

Meanwhile, I polled Twitter contacts and picked their brains on what to do. Sigh.. Most, like me, could not get past the solitary unit... Anyway, on and on I pondered, until the lack of anything sweet at home, spurred me into the idea of experimenting with shortbread cookies....

Rhubarb & sage cookies

And, that is what happened to the stalk... I wanted to add a touch of savory to these cookies and it just happened that I had some sage left over from the CSA basket! I love the woody, deep flavor of sage. It just exudes a warming aroma and I thought that the combination would be wonderfully inviting.

Soon, I was whipping up a nice batch of shortbread dough with macerated and lightly cooked rhubarb and fresh sage. Even as I was making the dough, the aromas from the torn sage and sweetened, tangy rhubarb lifted me up and I left the kitchen with a happy song... which, turned into a happy dance when the cookies came out of the oven...

Cookies over milk jug

They are scrumptious! Light enough for summer and just subtly sweet allowing the flavors of the sage and rhubarb come through neatly. Although, I could definitely have used more rhubarb in these cookies, they were very lovely as is...

Phew! That was a happy ending indeed! I am still smiling....They are perfect with cup of milky chai! Or with a bowl of fresh strawberries with a touch of cream....

milk and cookies1

For more ideas on cooking fresh, seasonal produce, please click on the "Farm to Table Series" tab above.

Rhubarb and Sage Shortbread

4 T butter, room temperature
scant 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup cake flour
1/3 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 T heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
5-6 leaves of sage, torn into small pieces (play it by ear. Sage is a strong herb. So add one leaf at a time until you think you have the perfect aroma)
1/4 cup rhubarb, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
2 T sugar, for macerating rhubarb
1 T butter, melted, for wash

Sprinkle the sugar on the rhubarb and let is sit overnight. In a small pan, cook the rhubarb in the liquid that it released until just soft. Cool to room temperature.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk in the extract and cream. Fold in the rhubarb. Sift together the flour, salt, salt, baking soda and sage bits. Add the dry to the wet and form into a slightly sticky dough. If it is too sticky, add a bit flour but not much.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into shapes and arrange on a baking tray. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat oven to 350 degrees. Before placing the tray in the oven, brush the cookies with butter. You can sprinkle some granulated sugar too, if you want.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes and then at 320 for 10 minutes until cookies are golden brown. Cool on rack. When completely cooled, store in an airtight container.