Rhubarb and Ginger Sorbet
March can be a tricky time in the kitchen. The weather has moved into spring, and the days seem warmer and brighter. But the shelves are still filled with ancient roots: dry old parsnips and last year's swedes. Rhubarb is one of the few things that really comes into its own at this time of year. Although I love it in crumbles, tarts and pies (and it makes the best fool), this sorbet is a fantastic way of serving it. It captures the proud tartness of the stalk, with the ginger bringing a gentle touch of spice. It's quite difficult to photograph - not helped by the fact I don't have an ice-cream scoop - but trust me, this was pink and lovely.
400g forced English rhubarb, chopped into inch-thick slices
200g unrefined caster sugar
Half a vanilla pod, split
Smallish piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped (about the size of a melon ball)
Lump of stem ginger in syrup, the same size, finely chopped
1 lemon, zest removed
Put a medium saucepan on a low heat, and add the vanilla pod and 250ml water. Add the sugar, and heat gently until it's dissolved. Then turn up the heat, and boil rapidly, uncovered, for four and a half minutes. You need to be quite precise with the timing: too much boiling and the sorbet won't set, not enough and it will be unpleasantly icy. Add the rhubarb, lemon zest and ginger and gently poach, covered, until the rhubarb is completely tender, a matter of 15 minutes or so. Allow to cool slightly, then remove the vanilla pod and add the juice from half the lemon. Taste, bearing in mind that you want it to be slightly oversweet at this point - and add more lemon juice if you think it needs it. Thoroughly liquidise in a blender. Strain through a sieve, pushing all the fruit through, and chill for an hour in the fridge. Pour into an ice-cream maker and churn until it's ready.