Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Rhubarb and Lavender

There is a reliability with Lavender. You can guarantee that no matter what time of year, there will always be at least one lavender flower in the garden. I like to grow it next to a path so you when you brush past it you get that heavenly scent. And the foliage, just seems to brighten up even the dullest parts of the garden in winter.
I'm sure everyone has their own lavender story, there's a certain something about it that evokes memories and stories in all of us, no matter how old we are or where we live.

When I was a kid growing up in the middle of England my mum would polish the furniture using a tin of Lavender Furniture Polish. The smell was heavenly and of course the polish itself a lavender colour. Mum told me that once I tried to eat it because it looked so creamy. Of this I have no memory, thank goodness. Whenever I smell lavender, I'm transported back to my mum, its a lovely memory and since she died a few years ago, its a nice way to remember her. 

But Lavender is not only useful in polish and soap and little bags you put in your underwear drawers. It's great for cooking with too - but only use a little because it has a very strong flavour and too much makes it unpalatable.

Today, when I was buying vegetables I saw some delicious looking rhubarb. Must have been grown somewhere a little warmer than Adelaide, because in my garden the rhubarb hasn't shaken off winter. These were long slender stalks of brilliant red and they looked so tempting that I had to buy some. And then I remembered Lavender; a great combination with rhubarb.

Combining rhubarb with a hint of culinary Lavender, adding a crunchy oat and almond crust was all the inspiration I needed to get in the kitchen.

Here's my recipe if you want to try out this combination - it may surprise you. Its not a crumble and its not a pie, but something in between and the texture is lovely.

Rhubarb and Lavender Oat Crunch


large bunch of rhubarb, stalks only chopped into small pieces

1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup of sugar
pinch of salt
3/4 teaspoon culinary lavender
2 tbls butter

For the topping

11/2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup soft brown sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
1 1/2 cup rolled oats 
1/2 cup toasted almond flakes
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon,
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 cup packed light brown sugar 
3/4 cup soft butter

  • Wash the rhubarb and cut the stalks into small pieces and place into an oven proof dish. I used a pie dish because I wanted to spread the topping thinly across the rhubarb.
  • Add lavender, honey, sugar, salt and mix thoroughly. 
  • Dot the rhubarb with 2 tablespoons of butter.
  • To make the topping - mix all ingredients together (except the almond flakes) and spread this over the rhubarb mixture. Now sprinkle the top with toasted flaked almonds.
  • Don't worry if you haven't completely covered the fruit. It will all work in the end.
  • Now bake in a preheated oven 180/350ยบ for around 30 minutes or until the topping is golden. Allow to cool a little before serving either by itself, a quenelle of ice cream or a dob of cream. Your choice!

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