Guest Blogger: Maria Siriano of Sift & Whisk (Strawberry Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars Recipe)

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Guest Blogger: Maria Siriano, Creator
Note from Best of the Menu: Maria is the first of many (food) bloggers that will be guest blogging on Best of the Menu. If you’re a local food blogger and would like next month’s feature, please reach out! :)


Maria Siriano, Creator of Sift & Whisk

Hi, Columbusites & Best-of-the-Menuers! I’m Maria Siriano, a Columbus food photographer and blogger over at Sift & Whisk, where I bake up dessert recipes that will make you have to break out your stretchy pants.
Autumn asked me to share one of my favorite recipes with you all, and since it’s just about time for good strawberries to start showing up at our local farmers’ markets, I thought I’d share this award-winning Strawberry Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars recipe. That’s right, these babies were one of eight winners in the Drop kitchen scale recipe contest. And they’re Irish, so I trust them implicitly. Mostly because of their adorable accents.
This recipe is also one of my most popular on Pinterest, and I’ve had several readers leave comments saying that they made them and they turned out great! So don’t just take my word for it. After all, you don’t know me, and trusting a stranger would be naive. Unless, of course, the stranger is Irish.
Basically, you cook up a strawberry rhubarb compote, mix a batch of oatmeal cookie dough, and layer it all together into a pan, crumbling a quarter of the cookie dough on top of the compote to give the bars that cobblestone texture on the top.
If you’re in Columbus, you may already have a favorite place to find your strawberries and rhubarb, but I just recently got some rhubarb at Lucky’s Market for a good price since no one at the farmers’ market had any when I went. Oh, and if you aren’t a rhubarb fan? Sub in some slices of tart apples. But don’t completely write off rhubarb until you’ve tried it in these bars. They’re pretty excellent.
2 cups (280 grams) strawberry slices
2 cups (220 grams) ½-inch rhubarb slices
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons (15 grams) cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1¾ cup (210 grams) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
1 cup (225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature (plus more for greasing)
1 cup (215 grams) light brown sugar
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups (270 grams) rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and toss with a wooden spoon to coat the fruit with cornstarch and liquids. Cook over medium heat until strawberries begin to break down, rhubarb is fork-tender, and juices have thickened, about 6-8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter one side of a long piece of aluminum foil, then press the foil, butter side up, into a 13×9-inch baking pan. There should be overhanging foil on two ends of the pan. (These will act as “handles” to lift the bars out later.)
Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and spices in a medium mixing bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter on medium speed for 2 minutes until smooth and silky. Add sugars and beat until fluffy, another 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl twice. Turn mixer speed to low and add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla, and mix until combined.
Add flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Mix in oats on low speed. Scrape down the bowl and stir by hand a couple turns to make sure all ingredients are incorporated evenly.
Press ¾ of the dough evenly into the foil lined baking sheet. (You can use parchment or wax paper as a barrier to keep your hands clean and create a more even surface.) Place the bowl with the remaining dough in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
Pour strawberry-rhubarb compote over top of the pressed dough, spreading it out over the surface with a rubber spatula. Crumble remaining chilled dough over the top of the compote layer. There should be some fruit peaking through.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the crumble layer is golden brown. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
Once cooled, carefully transfer the bars to a cutting board by lifting them out by the foil handles. You may need to support the center with a spatula or someone else’s helping hand during the transfer. Peel back the foil from the edges, then cut the slab into 24 squares and serve.
One final note from Best of the Menu: Be sure to follow Maria on social media – she is not only a whiz in the kitchen, she is also HILARIOUS. :)

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