What to do with all your frozen rhubarb?
Answer: bread pudding!
One may wonder... bread pudding?? In summer?
MN has been unseasonably cool this time of year, especially at night. The slight chill in the air reminds me Autumn is coming, and that I should start dreaming up recipes to accompany the season. These past few nights of cool weather have me warmed up to the idea of spiced pudding.
And since my freezer is piled high with rhubarb, why not throw it into the mix?
Plus, I wanted to try something new and atypical for rhubarb; stray away from the classics like strawberry rhubarb pie. Trying a new preparation with rhubarb was my mission, and I never had it in bread pudding before.
--> then enters tonka
Mysterious, illegal and "avant-garde": Tonka beans have an aroma of vanilla, cherry, and almond with a brown/black wrinkly appearance and bitter taste. These seeds come from a tree native to Central America and South America and are high in coumarin. It is this compound, coumarin, that has the FDA up in a frenzy, calling it "adulterated" and sometime deadly. All foods that contain the chemical coumarin have been illegal in the Unites States since 1954. Reason? When coumarin is consumed in excess, it causes liver and kidney toxicity in animal models.
However, the amount one would need to consume is equivalent to 30 entire tonka beans before it comes life-threatening (about the same volume as which nutmeg and other everyday spices). Yet, the FDA continues to deem these beans illegal and still enforce this old law. Chefs like Grant Achatz have even been tracked down for using them. Enforcement is clearly imperfect, because one can go on-line and order for themselves.
outlaw bread pudding
1 batch mint creme anglaise* see recipe
28 oz hamburger buns, day old
1 lb loaf, seedy bread (poppy, sesame, whole grain)
2 Tbsp ginger, zested or minced
8 egg whites
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. cardamom, ground
4 cup rhubarb, diced, thawed
1. A day ahead, dry out the bread (buns and seedy bread) by breaking it into chunks and leaving it out at room temperature overnight. -make your creme anglaise this day to get ahead-
2. Whisk mint creme anglaise with ginger, whites, sugar and cardamom.
3. Pour mix over bread crumbs and allow to soak for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350F
4. Fold rhubarb into soaked bread and put in a prepared (buttered) 9"x13" baking pan.
5. Bake for 70 minutes (or until browned and cooked thoroughly) at 350F
mint creme anglaise
prepares 1 quart
4 cups milk
4 tonka beans*
2/3 cup sugar
8 egg yolks
1 bunch mint
1. In a double boiler or sauce pan, scald milk with tonga beans.
2. Combine the sugar and yolks in a bowl and whip until thick and light.
3. Gradually pour the hot milk into the mixed yolk/sugar while stirring consistently.
4. Return to the stove in a double boiler or with direct heat in a pot. Heat and stir consistently until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, careful not to let it burn.
5. Immediately remove from heat and add mint. Cover and allow to steep for 2-3 hours. You can cool the custard down at the same time by putting it in an ice bath. Once cool enough, put in fridge and remove mint and tonka beans when desired.
*tonka beans: can be substituted for 1 vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract