I love reading the round-ups from the many wonderful blog events out there ~ thanks to kind encouragement I am taking part in my first ~ Jihva for Ingredients at Mahanandi, hosted by talented Indira of blogging fame.
I wanted to play, but did not know what to make. I tend to pick up what looks good in the store on any given day, as opposed to having a firm plan in mind. The day I went shopping this week, it was rhubarb that caught my eye. It’s spring ~ just when the rhubarb patch begins to take root. Growing up in New England, my nana always had rhubarb in her backyard, and we kids used to pick the new stalks and dip them in a bowl of sugar to eat, raw. Of course the leaves are toxic; people and pets must stay away from them.
Back in the 1800’s, in the midwestern part of the US, rhubarb was also known as “pie plant”. To make a rhubarb pie, just cut up enough stalks to fill the bottom pie crust, cover liberally with sugar (pie plant is very sour on its own!) and sprinkle a little flour over all. Dot with butter, and cover with top crust. The flour and butter combine while baking, to keep the pie from running. Della Lutes’ great book Country Kitchen details this well in story form ~ an older, out-of-print book, but well worth seeking out if you’re at all interested in what life and food was like in the midwestern US in pioneer days.
I thought the tartness of rhubarb would combine wonderfully with the sweet mango, and the colors are lovely as well. I made traditional rhubarb sauce with mangoes added, and served it over an old fashioned New England johnny cake. The end result was better than I expected!
I have not yet harnessed the photo placement, but here is the recipe for rhubarb sauce which I remembered from childhood ~ with mango added:
2 cups rhubarb stalks (about 4 large) root end trimmed and all traces of leaves removed
1 large ripe mango
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
Cut fresh ripe mango and rhubarb into 1/2 in pieces. Be sure to remove any traces of green leaves at the top of rhubarb. Combine with water and sugar in nonreactive saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat about 15 minutes ~ stir often as rhubarb will break down quickly, and you want to keep the lovely color along with some shape. After the 15 minutes, uncover pan and allow to cook down slightly, another 5-10 minutes. Taste and add a little more sugar if needed. Remove to a bowl to await johnnycakes.
For the johnny cake I used stone ground cornmeal. Some believe the term johnny cake comes from “journey cake” ~ when folks carried cornmeal and salt, then mixed it with water and baked over the campfire. Again a toss back to pioneer days.
1 cup stoneground corn meal
1/3 cup water (or more for thin cakes)
salt to taste (this needs salt)
Mix cornmeal and water with salt, I made a thin batter for crispy johnny cakes. Drop by heaping tablespoons into hot greased frying pan, cook about 4-5 minutes on either side, till brown and crispy.
There you have it ~ crispy johnny cake with mango-rhubarb sauce. A great breakfast, lunch, or late supper ~ with a bit of history tossed in.
Thank you Indira for the chance to participate!