Guys – I think it’s safe to say that summer is finally here in Denmark! My colleague informed me that this year’s May was in fact the first month since 2013 that was colder than the average – and that average is taken over a multiple decade period. It did have its nice days, with some sun and more enjoyable temperatures, but as a whole, May was kind of a bummer. Too much grey, too much rain, too much wind – not nearly enough sun, blue skies, and warm summer nights.
But it looks like that’s over now – and we can finally welcome summer, for real! And you know what that means: Danish rhubarb and Danish strawberries! I usually try to wait until we get the good, local produce in the supermarkets – it may take a little while, but when those Danish strawberries finally arrive, they are full of flavor and sweetness. With the rhubarb, it’s a bit different, as that’s really only in season for a short while and we can’t usually get our hands on it during the rest of the year.
But while we can, let’s make the most of it and create a Danish summer classic: “rabarbergrød” – a rhubarb compote that’s eaten as a a dessert. Often, strawberries are added, and then it becomes “rabarber-jordbærgrød”. All the weird letters! It’s super quick and easy to make – it’s actually cooked just like jam, except you don’t use as much sugar and no gelling agent – and only requires minimal preparation.
Now, you know I’m no stranger to booze. And while I love drinking it, I also love putting it in my food! Many traditional “rabarbergrød” recipes call for some orange peel and juice, so I thought – why not find a boozy replacement for that?
My choice fell on Triple Sec, an orange liqueur made from the peels of sweet and bitter oranges. It works as an aperitif on its own, but is most commonly used in cocktails, such as the Cosmopolitan or the Long Island Ice Tea. There are many different brands, but among the most popular are Cointreau and Grand Marnier. Personally, I prefer Grand Marnier, as it is a bit sweeter than Cointreau, but still has a very rich, orangey flavor.
I’m only adding a little amount to the recipe, and the alcohol content will cook off, but feel free to replace with some freshly squeezed orange juice. The orange flavor goes well with the rhubarb and the strawberries, as it adds a nice citrusy element without being too sour.
But now, let’s get this rhubarb party started, shall we?
Tipsy rabarbergrød with strawberries
(makes 2 large or 4 smaller portions)
350g fresh rhubarb
400g fresh strawberries
50g brown sugar
2 tbsp Grand Marnier
1 vanilla pod, halved and seeded
heavy cream for serving
Thoroughly wash the rhubarb stalks and cut off the leaves and the ends. Cut into ca. 1cm long pieces. Wash the strawberries, cut off the stems, and cut into small cubes. Add rhubarb, strawberries, brown sugar, Grand Marnier, and a bit of water into a large pot. Don’t use too much in the beginning, but potentially add more if required. Cut the vanilla pod in half, length-wise, and scratch out the seeds. Add the seeds and the pod into the pot and bring to a boil. Keep at a simmer for 10-15min, until the desired texture is reached. Take out the vanilla pod. Distribute into small bowls, this will make the compote cool faster. Serve well-chilled, with cold heavy cream.
Doesn’t this look beautiful? Now, in classic Danish fashion, all you need is some heavy cream to smother the beautiful compote in. Cream is my favorite, but you can also try some vanilla sauce, or maybe a scoop of vanilla ice cream – the possibilities are endless!
I’m thinking this could also be an excellent topping for Greek yogurt or a nice panna cotta… yum!
Before you dig in, obviously, it’s an unwritten rule that you have to say “rødgrød med fløde” (every Danish learner’s favorite sentence!) perfectly three times, just for the fun of it. And then you’re free to grab a spoon, make those beautiful red-and-white swirls with the cream, and dig in!
Are you a fan of rhubarb? What are your favorite seasonal ingredients in late spring and early summer? And can you say “rødgrød med fløde”? Share in the comments below!