Monday, July 14, 2014

Rhubarb Cherry Chutney, Because The Only Thing Better Than Free, Is A Sale!

    I never could resist a sale. Ever. Growing up in a very frugal blue collar family where money was tight, I learned to like a lot of stuff because it was cheap or on sale. Most of this stuff was fresh vegetables and fruit. No candies or sweet treats at our house, no sugary drinks, as they were considered an expensive indulgence.

   "Here,have an apple, there's a tree in the back yard" my mother would say.

   Thanks to her, I never developed a taste for soda, or a lot of the stuff my friends had in their lunchboxes in elementary school. I didn't get the Twinkies, or the Hostess SnoBalls. It's not that I didn't try to get that stuff. I attempted the usual trading at lunch but not many people (try no one) was interested in swapping me a Twinkie for a Gravenstein apple. I quickly became known around the school yard as Applecore Gori since remembering my moms no waste rule I ate the entire apple. Like a goat.

   Like a small goat I also learned to forage around the neighborhood. I learned to pick and eat sour grass, parts of certain flowers had centers that contained a sweet nectar. There were edible berries in Golden Gate Park around the corner, and it seemed like nearly everyone's yard, even in the midst of a neighborhood of drifting sand dunes, had some tree that produced some sort of fruit. Later, when I moved to Los Angeles, I loved having lemons and avocados in the backyard, strawberry guava trees and loquats which a lot of people ignored but which make excellent chutney. Now, here in Sonoma all sorts of edible plants abound.  I've planted fruit trees at our new house, and I also do my share of gleaning. But even here in Sonoma, I can't always find everything I want growing by the side of the road. That's where the sale gene kicks in. When they throw up those numbers and percentage marks, that's when I come running.
   Last week there was a sale at our local Whole Foods. They were offering beautiful organic cherries for 1.99 a pound. I was so there. At the same time I saw some great local rhubarb for cheap so I snapped that up too. So there I was, rhubarb and cherries in hand, what to do, what to do?

    Since I am still in a temporary kitchen, I have very few of my usual cooking tools because of my "Fragile!" "Glass!" brilliant idea so it seemed that baking anything was out of the question. I did have a large skillet and measuring spoons, and that seemed to be all I needed to make a quick and tasty chutney. There are a lot of ways to make chutney. This is a very simple one and you can adjust the seasoning to whatever you'd like heat-wise. Just taste and adjust as you go. It's that easy.

Cherry Rhubarb Chutney

Here's What You Need:
1 lb of rhubarb
1 lb of fresh Bing cherries
1/4 cup of water
3/4 cup of sugar
6 pods green cardamom, cracked seeds removed
6 cloves
2 pinches of Kashmiri chili
2 large cinnamon sticks
2 pinches of ground cinnamon
the juice of 1/2 lemon

Here's What To Do:
Wash the cherries and rhubarb
Cut the tough ends and the little green leaves off of the stallks if there are any.

Chop the rhubarb into 1/2 inch pieces.

Put the cut rhubarb into a large bowl.
Pit the cherries.

Cut the pitted cherries into halves.

Mix the cherry halves with the rhubarb pieces.

Mix the water and sugar together in a skillet. Turn the heat up to medium and mix the water and sugar together until they're well blended.
Add in the rhubarb and cherries.

Toss in the cinnamon sticks, the cinnamon, the pinches of kashmiri chili, the cardamom seeds, and the cloves.

Bring the water to a boil, and when it does boil, turn the heat down to simmer. Cook the rhubarb and cherries down for about 35 minutes.

When the rhubarb and cherries have softened and cooked down add in the lemon juice.

Let the chutney cool down. Check the heat factor. If you'd like to add more chili do so but in very small amounts until you have the chutney as hot as you'd like it. Chili added to foods takes a while to sink in and when you add heat, let it sit for 15 minutes or so and check again before you add more.
Serve the chutney warm or at room temperature, but if you're not serving it right away, refrigerate it.

   This chutney can be used on a sandwich, with chicken or pork, even as a topping for ice cream or yogurt. Best of all it can be made with minimum equipment and in very little time. Coming up next, a cool summer ice cream and some cool equipment from OXO. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

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