Mother’s Day Brunch + RECIPE: Rhubarb Crisp Pancakes

Mother’s Day is really just a very poorly timed holiday. While the rest of the world is picnic-ing and brunching and planting flowers and sipping wine from their back patios drenched in sunshine with their mothers, I’m shouting at mine because can’t she just stop talking and understand her home is my place of employment?! 

Yes, our farm is at my parents’ place. It’s a really lovely spot. Their beautiful hilltop homestead in the gentle rolling hills of western Rock County is literally paradise to me. I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to continue the agricultural legacy of my family in the fields where I was raised. We all help each other and it’s a totally awesome, powerful thing.

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But it’s also a gigantic pain in the ass. Working with family (or in extremely close proximity to family) is hard. Everyone knows everyone else’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities as well as how to efficiently get under each other’s skin. Boundaries are practically non-existent. And perhaps hardest of all, seeing each other becomes so commonplace that we forget to make real time for one another.

I see my mom almost every day, but rarely do we make time to really talk. I’m running through their house printing off an invoice I forgot, heating up leftovers or grabbing seeds from their basement (which happens to be our only place for farm storage). I’m always around but never present.

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This is always true, but May is definitely the hardest time of the year. Things are pure chaos. There really is almost no time to stop. We’re racing to get our whole farm into the ground between the second week of April and end of June. That’s nine short weeks to get 90% of the things we’ll grow this year planted, weeded, row covered, mulched, weeded, and then weeded again.

Add in the fickle weather and we’ve got a scheduling nightmare on our hands. I tell friends that every commitment I make in May is weather dependent and that it’s unlikely we’ll be able to see each other when the sun is shining. This year I was determined though. I was not only going to make plans with the woman who gave me life. I was going to also cook her a feast. I planned the perfect brunch menu. It included all of my favorite seasonal delights (rhubarb, spinach, green garlic, and asparagus).

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Then, three days apart, my mother and I both caught a nasty stomach flu rendering us exhausted, feverish and 100% uninterested in food on Mother’s Day. So here we are a week and three days later. It’s still raining and we’re still unable to get field work done, which is incredibly frustrating, but means I had plenty of time to spoil my mother.

My hubby and I cooked up one hell of a meal for that dear family of mine. We made the Mashed Potato Fritter Benedict from a couple weeks ago, a bunch of pepper bacon, some roasted asparagus, Smitten’s perfect Almond Rhubarb Picnic Bars, an adaptation of this banana bread with coconut milk, walnuts and maple syrup, and these heavenly Rhubarb Crisp Pancakes (recipe below).

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Rhubarb Crisp Pancakes were a happy accident from a few weeks ago when I got the crazy idea to make rhubarb curd with the pounds and pounds of rhubarb my dear neighbor and CSA member Dana keeps bringing me. It was my first time making curd–though I’ve been eating (and becoming obsessed with it) on french toast at Cow & Quince for months. My first batch was unsuccessful (hint: use a double boiler) and didn’t have enough rhubarb flavor (so I stirred some rhubarb sauce into the finished product).

The second batch was much better and is the recipe you’ll find below. It’s heavenly. Smooth, sweet, creamy, tangy and rich, rhubarb curd is a dangerous treat. You could literally put it on everything. From muffins to ice cream to cakes, pies, oatmeal and yogurt, rhubarb curd is sure to be something you’ll find in your fridge every spring from now until the end of time after making this recipe.

Lots of rainy spring love,
Leek

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RHUBARB CRISP PANCAKES
This will make a whole pile of pancakes and over two cups of curd. If you have any extra (we didn’t but we really poured it on heavy), you can store it in your fridge for a couple weeks and literally pour it over anything. It’s decadent and rich and makes any brunch go from delicious to special.

Takes 1 hour
Makes 16-20 pancakes
Serves 4-6 or a brunch crowd with other yummy things

Rhubarb curd:
2-1/2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
5 egg yolks (save the whites and try your hand at pavlova– it’s so fun!)
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces

Pancakes:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
6 tablespoons butter
2-1/2 cups whole milk
2 eggs

Struesel topping:
1/4 oats or oatmeal (I used steel-cut)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch salt
Pinch ground ginger
5 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces and cold

Maple syrup, for serving

  1. Make the rhubarb curd first so it has time to cool and set in the fridge. It will store up to two weeks in the fridge so feel free to make it in advance. Combine rhubarb and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook gently for 25 minutes.
  2. Press the well cooked rhubarb through a fine mesh sieve. This will yield about 1/2 cup of pretty pink rhubarb juice. Reserve the rhubarb puree in your strainer for serving on the pancakes.
  3. Wipe out saucepan with a paper towel. Add enough water to cover about 1-inch up the side. Bring your water to a low simmer.
  4. Combine egg yolks and sugar in a small glass bowl. Whisk until smooth, about one minute. Add rhubarb juice and whisk again. Place bowl on top of small saucepan and keep it simmering (but make sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl). Whisk continually until thickened (about 8 minutes). It will turn light yellow and easily coat the back of a spoon. Then remove from heat and quickly stir in each piece of butter, one at a time, allowing each to melt before adding more.
  5. I allowed to cool for 5 minutes then added a couple tablespoons of my rhubarb puree I set aside earlier before pouring my mixture into mason jars and placing in the fridge to cool/set.
  6. Now for the pancakes, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Stir to combine, leaving a sort of well in the middle. Pour in the melted butter, followed by the milk and then the eggs. Stir to combine well (until pretty smooth and egg is well-incorporated). Let rest for 10 minutes. This will lead to fluffier pancakes!
  7. While the pancakes rest, make your struesel topping. Combine oatmeal, walnuts, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and ginger in a medium bowl. Stir to combine. Cut in the butter until you have a uniform crumbly texture– big chunks are fine!) (You could also do this step effortlessly in a food processor if you have one!)
  8. To prepare your pancakes, warm a skillet over medium heat for a couple minutes. Grease the pan with butter and then pour or scoop about 1/4 cup of batter onto pan as many times as can fit (I can usually do four pancakes at a time on my square pan and three on my round one). Immediately sprinkle with struesel topping. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the pancake edges begin to dry and the bottom is golden brown. Flip and cook another 2-3 minutes until golden brown on second side.
  9. Continue making pancakes until all the batter and struesel is gone and then serve with warm maple syrup, warm rhubarb puree and cold rhubarb curd. Try not to shovel a dozen pancakes into your mouth.

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