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21/04/2010

Rhubarb syllabub with ginger and star anise [Recipe]

I spent last weekend in the West Country on a lovely bloggers' trip to Riverford Farm in Devon. If you're an assiduous reader of British food blogs, you might have seen posts elsewhere on this lamentably brief excursion.

Among the goodies I came away with was some firm young rhubarb. I hadn't made a syllabub for yonks: they seem strangely out of fashion nowadays, which is rather a shame. The best are delicious and fruity and a tiny bit grown-up. Serving them in martini glasses is no doubt wincingly naff, but they were all I had, and the dish still rounded off a nice dinner with some friends.

Rhubarb syllabub with ginger and star anise

Serves 6

1lb rhubarb, washed and cut into 2cm-long chunks
2 ripe oranges
100-150g caster sugar, depending on how sweet your rhubarb is
4 tbsps of sweet wine (I used Muscat, which was on offer in Waitrose)
2 star anise
6 cardamom pods, seeded, husks discarded
300ml double cream
A small lump ginger, finely sliced
3 tbsps of flaked almonds, toasted

Zest one of the oranges and squeeze both of them. Finely chop the zest, then place it in a pan along with half the orange juice, the rhubarb, star anise, ginger, cardamom and 50g of the sugar. Cook over a low heat until the rhubarb has softened without turning into mush – about six minutes. It'll carry on cooking off the heat, so err on the cautious side. Taste for sweetness, adding more sugar if necessary (though you want it reasonably tart), and allow to cool.

Mix together the rest of the orange juice, the wine and the remaining 100g or so of sugar, and stir until dissolved. Whip the cream into soft peaks and fold in the wine mixture. Assemble the rhubarb and its juice in the bottom of individual glasses, reserving a few rhubarb pieces for garnish, then top with the cream mixture. Place in the fridge for at least two hours. Just before serving, top with the flaked almonds and a little more rhubarb. Serve with the rest of the wine bottle.

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