“So what’s it called?” Charissa asked.
“It’s short for blueberry-rhubarb.”
“Well,” Gladys began, “it looks kind of like celery, but you can’t eat it raw. It tastes sour, and it grows like a weed…”
– All Four Stars, page 222
It’s spring! Rhubarb is here, and blueberries are on their way.
In All Four Stars, Gladys bakes a “bluebarb” (blueberry-rhubarb) crumble for a fellow student as part of her plan to convince that student to give her a ride into New York City, where she needs to review a restaurant.
Now, I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but I’ll just say that blueberries and rhubarb taste pretty delicious together, so the crumble probably doesn’t hurt Gladys’s efforts. 🙂
Gladys knew that strawberry-rhubarb was a classic dessert combination, with the sweetness of the strawberries balancing the sourness of the rhubarb. But she’d never thought of using blueberries for sweetness instead, and the idea fascinated her.
– All Four Stars, page 214
When my husband and I were planning our wedding, we decided to serve pies for dessert instead of having a wedding cake. We surveyed our guests to make sure that all of their favorite pie flavors would be offered, but when it came to the true “wedding pie”–the one we would cut into together–we wanted something special.
My husband’s favorite pie flavor was blueberry, and mine was rhubarb, so we asked our pie-bakers (the fantastic Kristin’s Bakery in Keene, NH) if they could put our two favorites together in a custom “bluebarb” pie. They came through with flying colors, producing an amazingly sweet and tart dessert with just the right hint of lemon in it.
In All Four Stars, Gladys doesn’t have time to make a pie crust, but that’s okay–most of us don’t on a typical weekday night. A crumble or crisp is much easier to throw together, and with its tastily textured topping, it’s arguably even more delicious than pie.
Is there someone in your life who needs a little buttering up with the perfect sweet-and-tangy dessert? If so, start gathering ingredients.
Gladys Gatsby’s “Do Me a Favor” Bluebarb Crumble
2.5 cups rhubarb, diced
3 cups blueberries, rinsed
½ cup sugar
3 Tbsp tapioca starch or cornstarch
2 Tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup walnuts
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup flour (whole wheat pastry or all-purpose)
½ tsp cinnamon
4 Tbsp butter, cut into bits
1 Tbsp neutral oil, such as canola
½ cup rolled oats
vanilla ice cream
If you are a young chef, ask an adult to work with you on this recipe.
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
In a large bowl, combine all of the filling ingredients. Toss to mix everything well, then transfer mixture to a loaf pan.
In a food processor, pulse the walnuts, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon together a few times until the walnuts have been broken into smaller pieces. Add butter bits and oil and process until the mixture has a uniform, crumbly texture. Add the rolled oats and pulse 10 times, until the oats are incorporated but are still mostly whole.
Spread the topping on top of the fruit, covering it evenly. Bake for 30 minutes.
Let cool a bit before serving either on its own, or topped with vanilla ice cream.
This recipe is part of a series inspired by dishes from All Four Stars, my middle-grade novel about 11-year-old restaurant critic Gladys Gatsby. It will be published by Putnam/Penguin on July 10, 2014.
Find more recipes on my four-star recipe page!
What a fun backstory! I’ve only had strawberry-rhubarb pie and jam. I’ll have to try bluebarb! I ate quite a bit of rhubarb growing up. We had a couple of rhubarb patches and I liked dipping the stalk of rhubarb in a cup of sugar. It is SO tart! I made faces while eating it but still loved it! The crumble topping looks delish!
Wow, Penny–I always thought that raw rhubarb was poisonous, but I guess that’s just the leaves. Now I want to try it! Thanks for teaching me something. 🙂
Yes…just the leaves. I’m here to tell it and I ate my share!
Love the story behind this! I love rhubarb pie/crisp and must try this!
Come over sometime, Jess–I’ll make it for ya special! 🙂
Rhubarb is green?! I always assumed it was red- which I realize now was just the strawberry influence. This dessert looks delicious, thanks for sharing!
No, you’re right, Leandra–it’s red until you strip off the outer layer, which can get stringy if you leave it. It’s green on the inside. I know you like to cook–let me know if you try this!