Archive for February 22nd, 2012

February 22, 2012

Rhubarb, rhubarb.

I couldn’t resist a giant bunch of Wakefield forced rhubarb at the market. Such a cheery bright pink, it’s too beautiful to leave behind. Of course, then I had no idea what I was going to do with such a huge amount once I’d got it all home. A dessert of some kind is usually in order, and rhubarb crumble with custard is an obvious winner.

However, a call was issued to the Twitter hive mind  and my reply (from @gazpachodragon, someone who I only met for the first time on Monday and who I think is amazing) came back. Make rhubarb Bellinis! As the Bellini is traditionally made with prosecco, one of my favourite drinks, it felt a bit like fate.

The recipe originally comes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who has championed the cause of rhubarb for a long while. In fact, I remember when he guest edited an early edition of of Olive magazine. Although the title remained the same, on each page of the magazine, where it usually said Olive, instead it said Rhubarb…

I’m digressing, as usual.

The rhubarb is simmered in orange juice with some unrefined caster sugar, until it’s soft but not hugely pulpy. In the original recipe, Hugh uses 1kg (trimmed and cut into 4cmi-ish lengths) of rhubarb with the juice of a large orange and 125g golden caster sugar. I think I used roughly that – although to be honest, I didn’t measure it thoroughly! Simmer it until it softens, then take off the liquid. Add one part of this to three parts of prosecco or champagne and you’re all done. If you want to make it pretty, you can add an egg whitened sugar rim to your cocktail glass.

Of course, now is peak champagne rhubarb season. Wakefield in West Yorkshire is the capital of the rhubarb growing industry and will hold the annual Rhubarb Festival of Food and Drink next weekend, Friday to Sunday. I’ve not managed a visit to the forcing sheds yet, but apparently, you can hear the rhubarb creaking as it grows in the dark…