Strawberries and Rhubarb

It’s the beginning of the school Easter holidays and Spring is well underway here in Devon. We have watched the furry-covered magnolia buds bursting into full blossom in the gardens at the University where O works, and L and M have collected the fallen ‘fairy blankets’ from the ground beneath the trees. We have blue skies at last, too!

magnolias

Back at home, our garden is picking itself up after being cruelly assaulted by winter’s frosts and builders’ footsteps. Whilst I generally throw in a few suggestions of things I’d like for my kitchen pots, the main planting and sprouting of any fruit and vegetables in our garden is O’s province. However, O is in Cambridge taking exams this week, so I’ve been left in charge of the nursery. And it’s a very different kind of nursery from the one that has been my own domain for the past seven years. Instead of changing nappies and spreading cream on sore baby bottoms, I’ve found myself piling soil around newly sprouting potato plants and making sure the strawberries have just the right amount of water to drink.

spring strawberry

Come back soon, O – having sole responsibility for these babies is terrifying me!

strawberry and flower

Although it will be a while before our strawberries are ripe and juicy-red, this time of year brings an abundant supply of strikingly rosy forced and blanched rhubarb. Not a fruit as such, it still bridges the period between autumnal apples and sweet summer berries when it comes to puddings and desserts. It may not be truly seasonal, but the warm, dark conditions in which forced rhubarb is grown produce a stem that is more tender and less stringy than the outdoor variety of later months. And the rhubarb is also an almost disconcertingly vivid pink.

rhubarb

I have fond memories of rhubarb from my childhood in the North-East of England. There are photos of my sister and me hiding under our gigantic umbrellas of rhubarb leaves whilst playing in our parents’ garden (I must note here that the leaves are toxic if consumed due to overconcentration of oxalic acid – fortunately, we never felt in the remotest way inclined to munch on a rhubarb leaf when we were little). I do remember biting into the raw stem however, dipping it into a bowl of sugar to take away the tartness of its taste. It might have been relatively unfashionable until recently in the South of England, but I wouldn’t mind betting that rhubarb never lost its popularity during those years in the allotments and gardens of the North.

So when I encountered this season’s first homegrown rhubarb yesterday at Dart’s Farm, I just couldn’t resist buying a bunch. One thing led to another … the children wanted to bake cookies, they clamoured for gingersnaps, ginger is a classic flavouring for rhubarb …

Our rhubarb pudding was inspired by a recipe from Wicked Desserts (Delicious) for simple roasted rhubarb and lemon curd pots. We made our own gingersnaps for the topping and poached rather than roasted the rhubarb pieces.

rhubarb poaching

Although orange and rhubarb are a match made in heaven, I prefer the sublime combination of rhubarb, pomegranate juice and rosewater. Divine. So that’s what I used.

rhubarb lemon mascarpone

Rhubarb and Lemon Curd Pots

7 oz caster sugar
200 ml pomegranate juice
200 ml water
3 tbsp rosewater
1 lb forced rhubarb, cut diagonally into thin slices
1/2 oz butter
6 tbsps lemon curd
250g tub of mascarpone
4 gingersnaps (recipe here)

Place the sugar, pomegranate juice, water and rosewater in a large pan and bring to the boil. Add the rhubarb and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes to reduce. Stir in the butter. Leave to cool.

Swirl the lemon curd into the mascarpone with a knife.

Divide the poached rhubarb between 6 serving pots. Spoon the lemony mascarpone on top.

Crush the gingersnap biscuits and sprinkle the crumbs over the mascarpone.

This post is my entry to CLICK: Spring/Autumn.

Leave a comment

6 Comments

  1. i love love love the pic with the pot on the fire.

    Reply
  2. Really?! That was my added-extra to show off my new cooker and stainless steel splashback! Can I change my entry? 😉

    Reply
  3. I don’t think I have ever had anything like this recipe. It sounds very intriguing. I don’t naturally like rhubarb, but I have had some exceptional rhubarb puddings here in England, that always take me by surprise. It does sounds delicious to me.

    Good luck for your entry. Spring has definitely sprung on your blog.
    (Your cooker is looking most flash!)

    Reply
  4. I spoke too soon, Melinda! It’s pouring with rain today 😦 . I think I’ll have to use the rest of the poached rhubarb for a warming rhubarb crumble with custard!

    Reply
  5. Kate

     /  April 6, 2009

    I think I might have to eat those. Now.

    Reply
  6. I keep coming back to this post as a reminder that spring is really on its way. Lovely photos and that recipe is going to get made in my kitchen as soon as my rhubarb matures.

    Reply

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