Sunday, 22 December 2013

What a load of Rhubarb!

The Chinese had it first, Marco Polo talked extensively about it and the Greeks had some extrodinary names for it, but we call it just plain, Rhubarb.

When I was just a kid in England, I remember my father used to have a huge bed of rhubarb. He would carefully collect any horse manure from the neighbouring yards and he would dig it in to the rhubarb bed. He had an old metal bucket that had a hole in the bottom which carried ashes from the fire until the bottom burned out. Each winter he would pick his best rhubarb crown and carefully lay the bucket over the top. My sister and I would keep a watch on the rhubarb over winter, brushing off the snow if it became buried by an overnight flurry. We watched it to make sure that we would be able to break off a few pieces when Dad wasn't watching, sneak into the kitchen and dip the end of the rhubarb into the sugar bowl and eat the crisp, juicy but sour rhubarb. We all loved it.

By Spring, Dad's prize rhubarb would be growing out of the top of the bucket and we knew that mum would soon be making crumbles and pies for Sunday lunch.

I picked a big bunch of rhubarb from my vegetable garden yesterday and thought it was time to make something delicious. I checked my fridge to see what I could possibly teem up with Rhubarb and decided that some Creme Patisserie would be a wonderful combination.

Here is a recipe for a French Rhubarb Tart - When you eat it, think of your parents and what they did to make your memories so wonderful.

French Rhubarb Tart

A rich sweet pastry, creme patisserie filling, topped with cooked rhubarb and a syrup glaze. The recipe came courtesy of BBC Good Food but adapted to suit. You could substitute this pastry for an ordinary shortcrust pastry with a bit of icing sugar in it.


Rhubarb - 12 x 35 Fluted Flan Dish

500g Rhubarb approx
50g  Caster sugar
Juice of an orange
1/2 Cup Water
Vanilla pod seeds removed and kept

Cut the Rhubarb so it is exactly the width of your flan dish
In a fry pan add water, sugar,orange juice and vanilla pod and cook on a low heat until the sugar has melted.
Add the rhubarb and cook for 5 minutes.
Take off the heat and let the rhubarb cool in the juice, it needs to be cooked but keep its shape. 

Pastry - Oven fan forced 170 degrees 
220g Plain flour
140g Butter
25g almond meal
2 tbls icing sugar
1 egg yolk

Add flour, butter, almond meal and sugar into a food processor and blitz until it resembles breadcrumbs, add egg and 1 - 2 tablespoons of water while still running. Blitz again until it forms a soft dough. Knead very lightly to bring together, wrap in plastic, fridge 30 minutes. Roll out and blind bake with paper and beans in flan dish for 15 minutes, remove beans and paper and bake another 5 minutes. Remove and cool.

Creme Patisserie

4 Egg Yolks
250 ml Milk
100 ml Thickened Cream
2 tbls caster sugar
1 tbls cornflour
1 tbls plain flour

While pastry is resting heat milk and seeds from vanilla pod until it reaches about 90 degrees or just below boiling. Beat egg yolks, flours and sugar together in bowl until pale.  Add warm milk. Strain and put back on heat stirring continuously until the custard thickens. Cool. Whip cream to peaks and add slowly to the custard once the custard is cool enough.

Assemble by spreading the creme patisserie on the base of the flan. Lay the rhubarb onto the creme. Make a syrup by fast boiling the rhubarb juice and once it is cool glaze the rhubarb.

Apart from the resting and cooling time, this really is pretty quick to make and it is delicious.

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