There is a little bar in Capitol Hill that does just two things, stiff drinks, and pies. An odd but heavenly combination, because who doesn’t love a slice of pie (always a la mode) to help soak up their booze? (Don’t answer, it’s a rhetoric question.) Their drinks are good but their pies are GOOOOD (read it like how Joey said it, stuffing his face with Rachel’s holiday meat, pea, cream, and jam trifle). My absolute favorite is the strawberry-rhubarb crumble. Now if you’re thinking, well that’s a classic, that’s boring, you’re wrong on the latter. Because there is nothing boring about that pie. It’s just damn plain delicious. If I liked the combination of strawberry-rhubarb before, now I’m obsessed. Everytime I find rhubarb stalks during my market runs, I cannot help but reach for a few. I’ve been baking them into muffins, and what has been nicknamed “hippie cake”, as well as flavored simple syrups. Flavored simple syrups are ‘simple’ to make and they refrigerate well, elevating weekend gin and tonics, or with a pour of fizzy water, make for a fast and easy homemade soda.
I don’t know about your corner of the world, but ours has reached record high temperatures. We came back to Seattle after a week in New England to crunchy grass and dry grounds, and a sun that does not even begin to give up until well past 9 pm. The consequences are rumors of banned private fireworks for this 4th of July weekend, and the complete liquefying of our kitchen’s tub of coconut oil. And of course, we’re hot and thirsty. Very, constantly thirsty. Which brings me back to homemade soda and rhubarb simple syrup, with the addition of cucumber, a classic cooling ingredient in all things Persian, for something really revitalizing and refreshing.
Rhubarb Cucumber Soda
2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 cup raw cane sugar
1 cup water
For the soda:
Rhubarb simple syrup
1 Persian cucumber, grated
Sparkling water such as San Pellegrino, or Club Soda
In a saucepan add the rhubarb, sugar, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and allow to simmer gently until the rhubarb has softened and the liquid has slightly thickened (about 20-30 minutes). Press the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer, and allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container or mason jar and keep in the refrigerator.
(You can reserve the strained rhubarb pieces for a breakfast with cream cheese and toast. Just make sure to refrigerate it as well.)
For the soda, add two tablespoons of the rhubarb syrup to an ice filled glass, along with one tablespoon of microplaned cucumber. Fill with soda water of choice, stir, and serve with a squeeze and wedge of lime. Sip, enjoy, and stay cool.