Posts Tagged ‘rhubarb’

Aunty Amy came to visit us on Saturday and to give Izzy her first lesson in modern Japanese culture. After Amy’s recent jaunt to Tokyo she bought back a stuffed toy for Izzy called Tortoro and the English version of the DVD movie – My neighbour Tortoro. It was so sweet watching the 2 of them sit on the sofa and watch the movie together – which is so typically Japanese – it even managed to hold her full attention for at least 30 mins! Thanks Aunty Amy!!

Having an extra person in the house is also a good reason to cook a yummy meal and with time to spare on a Saturday we decided to go all the way and make 3 courses. I suggested just 2 but as Amy pointed out – ‘there is always room for pudding’!

The first course was pretty simple – Bruschetta. No recipe to follow as is pretty simple. I sliced up some ciabatta and placed it on the griddle until it was brown and then turned over. In the meantime I chopped tomatoes and basil and mixed this with some red wine vinegar and a sprinkle of S & P. Once bread is nice and crisp then take off, rub both sides with a clove of garlic and drizzle with some good olive oil. I used some that I had flavoured a couple of weeks ago by just adding fresh basil and then leaving for a couple of weeks before decanting into a clean glass bottle. After the olive oil add the tomato & basil mix  and serve. Scrummy!!


The King was back in the kitchen for the main course – Pumpkin Risotto. Sorry if you are bored of Pumpkin but there will be more to come….the pumpkin season is such a small window that we have to make the most of it! As always it was fab – James has truly mastered this dish.

Pumpkin Risotto (courtesy of Gennaro Contaldo – Italian Year)


150ml olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed, but left whole

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 sprig of rosemary

350g arborio rice

1 glass of white wine

1kg pumpkin (clean weight), cut into very small cubes

about 1.5 litres hot vegetable stock

50g butter

100g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Place the stock in a saucepan on a low heat and simmer gently.

In another saucepan, heat the olive oil and sweat the onion, garlic, celery and rosemary until the vegetables soften. Remove the garlic and discard.

Add the rice, stirring well and making sure each grain of rice is coated in the oil. Add the wine and allow it to evaporate, stirring all the time.

Add the pumpkin cubes, together with a ladleful of stock & stir. As the liquid evaporates, stir in another ladleful of stock. Continue to do this for 20 minutes. remove from the heat, stir in the butter and Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Classy dinner in front of the telly! Oh well it's Saturday and X Factor is on!!

Classy dinner in front of the telly! Oh well it's Saturday and X Factor is on!!


So for pudding we originally heading towards Banoffee Pie given that there were a couple of bananas in the bowl that only had about a day left in them. That was a great idea until I actually read the recipe and the base needs to go into the fridge overnight! Then there is the tin of condensed milk in the saucepan (in order to make the toffee) which my friend Tarns had a bad accident with so all signs were pointing away from the Banoffee Pie.

This week I received from my dear friends at Amazon (we better be friends with the amount I have spent with them over the years ;-)) the new Rachel Allen book – ‘Home Cooking’. For me Rachel Allen is running a very close 2nd to Jamie Oliver and ‘Home Cooking’ is my kind of book. Full of vibrant, fresh and delicious recipes that are aimed at, funnily enough, the home cook. A worthy addition to any cookbook collection!! So I flicked through my newest acquisition and came across a recipe for Rhubarb & Ginger Bread & Butter Pudding. Never made a B & B pudding before and I have 460g chopped rhubarb in the freezer (from our first PYO of the season) and the recipe calls for 450g….must be a sign! I didn’t have great expectations as I don’t really recall ever having B & B pudding although I am sure I must have at some stage but I do recall that my Dad is not a fan. However I think even Marty would like this one especially as it is made with rhubarb which is one of his favourites.  Amy was right…..there is always room for pudding!!

Rhubarb & Ginger Bread and Butter pudding (courtesy of Rachel Allen – Home Cooking)


450g rhubarb, cut into 1 cm slices

2 tsp finely grated root ginger

150g caster sugar

50g butter, softened

12 slices of white bread, crusts removed

350ml single or regular cream

350ml milk

2 tsp finely grated root ginger

4 eggs

pinch of salt

2 Tbsp granulated sugar

Icing sugar, for dusting

25cm square ovenproof dish or similar-sized dish

Scatter the rhubarb in a baking dish and sprinkle with the grated ginger and half the caster sugar. Toss together and then leave to sit for about 30 mins to soften a little.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter the bread and arrange four slices, buttered side down, in the ovenproof dish. Scatter over half of the prepared rhubarb and top  with four more slices of bread, again buttered side down. Repeat with the remaining rhubarb mixture and bread.

Place the cream, milk and grated ginger in a saucepan an bring just to the boil. While this is coming to the boil, whisk the eggs, salt and remaining caster sugar in a bowl. Continuing to whisk, pour the hot liquid into the egg mixture until well mixed. Slowly pour this custard over the bread and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Sprinkle the granulated sugar over the top (oops forgot to do this!).

Place the dish into a deep-sided baking tray and pour in enough boiling water to come half way up the sides (known as a bain-marie). Carefully place in the oven to bake for 45-50 minutes, or until it feels just set in the centre. Remove from the oven and serve warm with a light dusting of icing sugar (forgot this too!) and some softly whipped cream.


Straight out of the oven

This post would not be complete without mentioning the X Factor – for the first time I am hooked! My faves are Stacey (how can you not love her – so funny and beautiful voice) and Jamie (go the Fro!!), but those twins…gggrrrr……they are the most annoying act I have ever seen and they need to go….NOW!! Don’t vote John& Edward!!!

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After a fun packed Saturday we decided to keep with the ‘FUN’ theme on Sunday and head out early(ish) to pick raspberries & strawberries.

At the beginning of the summer I set myself the goal of learning to make jam and so headed straight to Lakeland to get the ‘stuff’ needed (jars, lids, funnel, preserving pan, labels, jam thermometer) and scoped out the book market for the right instruction. The decision was easy – who knows better than the W.I (Women’s Institute)?. So, here I was all prepared and waiting on the PYO (Pick Your Own) season to begin!

Back in May we headed down to Surrey to Crockford Bridge Farm (which we discovered last year when we were in search of pumpkins!) and started the PYO season with Asparagus & Rhubarb. Until this day I had never even contemplated how asparagus grew and I learnt that it grows straight up out of the ground as a stalk – looks quite odd. It was a great day out and Izzy enjoyed helping cutting the asparagus & rhubarb straight from the field. In fact, that night she ate asparagus for the first time and I attributed that to recognising it from that day.

Picking asparagus with Daddy.

Picking asparagus with Daddy.

Picking rhubarb with Mummy

Picking rhubarb with Mummy

We came home with a large bundle of rhubarb and I found a rhubarb chutney recipe in a Sainsbury’s magazine (contributed by Matt Tebbutt) and it was oh so simple and oh so tasty……definitely one worth trying out. Works really well with pork.

Rhubarb Chutney (makes 1 litre)


2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced into half-moons

1 large knob, about 5cm, of root ginger, peeled & halved

3 tablespoons olive oil

1kg trimmed rhubarb, cut into chunks

500g soft light brown sugar

200ml red wine vinegar

In a heavy-based saucepan, gently cook the sliced onions with the ginger in the olive oil. Add the rhubarb chunks, brown sugar and red wine vinegar and stew down gently, uncovered, for 1 hour 15-20 minutes, until jammy in texture, stirring now and again to prevent it sticking.

Season with salt and pepper and remove the ginger. Serve the chutney warm or cold, or cool and store in Kilner-style jars in the fridge.

See – couldn’t be easier!!

So, back to last Sunday! We headed out to Lathcoats Farm in Chelmsford (meeting Mer & Isobel there) and we filled our buckets with delicious raspberries, strawberries and plums. Perfect start to a Sunday. It did not take long for the girls to start stuffing their mouths with more fruit than was making it into the basket!! It is definitely a great family day – you get to do your shopping outside (cheaper than the supermarket too!) and also teach the kids where food comes from while having fun – perfect! One of the highlights for the girls was the chicken coop where they were able to help collect the eggs. The staff gave them the resulting 2 eggs and they were still warm – was sch a lovely lesson for them about where eggs come from.



So, a mountain of strawberries means a perfect opportunity to make strawberry jam….

Strawberry Jam (courtesy of Book of Preserves – Women’s Institute)


1kg strawberries, hulled and wiped

juice of 1 large lemon

1kg granulated sugar

Makes – 6 x 225ml jars

Put the strawberries into a large pan or preserving pan with the lemon juice. Bring to a simmer, just until the juices begin to run – about 10 minutes.

Carefully mash the strawberries with a potato masher and simmer for a further 5 minutes until you have a thick puree.

Add the sugar and stir gently until completely dissolved. Return the mixture to a rolling boil and boil for 5 minutes before removing any scum. Test for a set (I used the thermometer test – ‘set’ is at 105C) and if necessary, boil for a minute more, then test again. Continue testing at 1-minute intervals until the jam has reached setting point.

Remove from the heat, skim off any scum, and allow the jam to cool briefly before carefully pouring into sterilised jars). Allow the the jam to cool completely before labelling and storing.

The verdict? Well I think I need to work on the set as don’t think I got that quite right. Still need to try it on toast so the jury is still out…..



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