Saturday, May 5, 2012

For Pie and Tart

I want another slice of rhubarb tart
I want another lovely slice
I'm not disparaging the blueberry pie
But rhubarb tart is oh-so-very nice
John Cleese, "The Rhubarb Tart Song" (1968)

Have you ever seen a rhubarb flower? I hadn't until today as my aunt harvested a bunch of stalks for me. Now, I know a few people who don't like this tart vegetable -- unless you happened to be in the US where it has been legally designated a fruit -- but I happen to love rhubarb and am so happy that my aunt also passed on several recipes. The first one tested is Rhubarb Butter Tarts.

I know the butter tart purists out there will be roiling at the thought of the addition of rhubarb, but give it a chance because it is quite good.

Surprisingly -- or perhaps not surprisingly -- few people have waxed eloquent about rhubarb and the meaning of life for use as my introductory quotation. But I found John Cleese singing praises of the rhubarb tart. Perfect! Yes, I realize that the homeland and jolly ol' England "are two countries separated by a common language" and that this is actually an ode to rhubarb pie, but I was desperate for a quotation . . . and it's great humour.


For those who missed the words: 
"The Rhubarb Tart Song"

I want another slice of rhubarb tart
I want another lovely slice
I'm not disparaging the blueberry pie
But rhubarb tart is oh-so-very nice
A rhubarb what? A rhubarb tart
A what-barb tart? A rhu-barb tart
I want another slice of rhubarb tart
The principles of modern philosophy
Were postulated by Descartes
Discarding everything he wasn't certain of
He said, "I think therefore I am rhubarb tart"
A rhubarb what? A rhubarb tart
Rene who? Rene Descartes
Poor mutt, he thought he was a rhubarb tart
Rhubarb tart has fascinated all the poets
Especially the Immortal Bard
He made Richard the Third call out at Bosworth Field
"My kingdom for a slice of rhubarb tart"
Immortal what? Immortal tart
Rhubarb what? A rhubarb Bard
As rhymes go that is really pretty bad
Since Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee
Laid down the axioms of abstract art
Even Jackson Pollock and Piet Mondrain
Prefer to paint a slice of rhubarb tart
Wassi who? A Wassi-ly
Kandin who? A Kandin-sky
And how he get in there for a start?
Read all the existentialist philosophers
Like Schopenhauer and Jea-Paul Sarte
Even Martin Heidegger agreed on one thing
Eternal happiness is rhubarb tart
A rhubarb what? A rhubarb tart
Jean-Paul who? Jean Paul Sarte
That sounds just like a rhyme from Lionel Barte
I want another slice of rhubarb tart
I want another lovely slice
I'm not disparaging the blueberry pie
But rhubarb tart is oh-so-very nice

And now for the recipe:

Rhubarb Butter Tarts
Yield: 12 tarts

Ingredients:
pre-made tart shells
1 cup rhubarb, chopped
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Scald rhubarb with boiling water. Let stand 5 minutes. Then drain.
3. Add butter, sugar, salt and syrup to rhubarb. Stir thoroughly until butter is melted and sugar dissolved.
4. Add egg and vanilla.
5. Fill tart shells three-quarters full.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool thoroughly before serving.

Source: a friend of my aunt.

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