Waxing rhapsodical about rhubarb

This made me very happy last week:

Rhubarb, along with quinces, is one of my favourite home-grown foodstuffs. Unimpressed that the stuff I got in Tesco is in fact from HOLLAND - how ridiculous - but it was reduced and I think it would have gone to waste otherwise, so I was really being ethical. I love the taste of it, but also the colour - I can never quite believe how shockingly pink it is, almost unnaturally so. For that reason it can make any dessert look stunningly beautiful and also a little bit fun. I quite like sharp, almost sour fruit (underripe granny smith apples, underripe plums, passionfruit, cooking apples, raspberries...), and rhubarb has that lovely tartness in abundance, so I like using it in dishes where you would normally use, say, a Bramley apple.
The best thing I think you can do with it is slice it into pieces, put in a baking dish, sprinkle over the juice and zest of an orange, a bit of sugar, and then put it into the oven at 160C or so for about 20 minutes until tender. This gives you a whole dish full of beautiful soft rhubarb, the orange bringing out its sharpness, and lots of lovely rhubarby juice. You can use this in pretty much any recipe. Here are some nice things to do with it:
  • I made an amazing rhubarb cake once that had sour cream in the cake mixture, and then pieces of rhubarb put on top of the mixture while it cooked. I made a gingery syrup and poured it over the cake when it came out of the oven, and it soaked into the cake and made it moist and sweet and delicious. I remember eating about half of the entire cake, such was its goodness.
  • I also intend to try it in a dish with lamb instead of the more usual apricots/dates/quinces; a sort of Middle Eastern fusion thing that I reckon would taste delicious.
  • Over the easter holidays I made a rhubarb tarte tatin using a Nigella recipe; it had a sort of scone dough for the base instead of the usual pastry, and the juices from the rhubarb soaked into it so it was soft in the middle and crunchy on the outside, and it was just beautiful. Again, I ate about half of it.
  • Rhubarb sorbet - poach rhubarb as above but in water instead of orange juice, add the juice of a lime and blend, then add some sugar syrup, put in an ice cream maker to set.
  • I also celebrated the start of the rhubarb season this year with a rhubarb cheesecake: the base was made of ginger biscuits (rhubarb and ginger is another classic combination), the cheesecake was a gelatine one so uncooked, and flavoured with seville oranges, and once set I pureed some poached rhubarb, added some more gelatine and spread it over the top of the cake to make a kind of rhubarb compote topping - like the ubiquitous forest fruit topping you often find on bought cheesecakes.
  • Just eat the poached rhubarb with ice cream.
  • Make rhubarb turnovers
  • Rhubarb jam
  • Rhubarb chutney
As if to prove the point, in the last week I used the above poached rhubarb for the following:

Rhubarb souffle:

A rhubarb and orange smoothie (by blending the rhubarb and juice with a bit more orange juice, some honey and a few spoonfuls of YOGHURT - a revelation I know...I admittedly had to stop myself thinking that I was drinking yoghurt before I was able to swallow it, but still...)

Rhubarb pancakes (pieces of rhubarb and a little bit of juice with a spoonful of yoghurt in the pancake - probably the best thing I have eaten in a while):

And finally, the rhubarb and juice makes a lovely compote for porridge mixed with dried cranberries and dried apple:

Four different meals (or components of them)...not bad for £1.74.

I sometimes wish I could paint my room in rhubarb.