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In the pink

Rhubarb is a funny vegetable. So funny, it thinks it’s a fruit. It is also, like “knickers”, a funny word. So funny, that Eric Sykes thought it was worth making a comedy short, for the cinema, in which the only word spoken, by all the characters, all the time replica prada saffiano handbags, is “rhubarb”. Have you seen it? It’s about a mad game of golf, in which Sykes is determined to beat the vicar, played by Harry Secombe. As a physical comedy, it’s a sort of precursor to Mr Bean. Arguably funnier – particularly if you prefer Eric Sykes to Rowan Atkinson. I’ve just checked it out on Google, and it’s available on DVD…

I digress. What have I to say about rhubarb, the food? Well, it is wonderful, and we should all eat much more of it. It has savoury, as well as sweet, applications. You knew that, though – it’s classic alongside oily fi sh, such as mackerel or herring. It’s still “forced” in the dark, in sheds in Yorkshire, and harvested by candlelight from December to March. Perhaps you didn’t know that…

You can eat forced rhubarb raw: bet you didn’t know that. (Some people think it’s poisonous raw, but that’s just the leaves, which can be boiled to make a natural pesticide.) To delight anyone who is a fan of the sour, and to amuse children generally, cut a long stem into several thinner strips. Bash the ends slightly with a spoon, to make the juices run and “fray” them somewhat, and serve with a little pile of icing sugar. Dip the frayed tips in the sugar and bite off . Re-bash the new end (or crush lightly with the teeth), and dip again.

From April onwards, the outdoor stuff is abundant, a little stubbier and a little coarser than it s forced cousin. It’s incredibly easy to grow in a large pot, or the shady corner of a flower bed, though it does love a large dollop of mucky compost.

Whether slender, pink and forced – as used in these recipes – or thick, stubby and green-streaked-with-wine, the treatment pretty much remains the same. There are Best Prada Outlet In Florence two basic ways to cook it. You can bake it, covered with a lid or foil, if you want it to hold it s shape. Or you can Best Prada Outlet In Florence simmer it in a pan with a scrap of water or fresh orange juice, if you don’t mind it disintegrating into a purée of its own silky, soft fibres. In both cases, about 125g sugar tossed with Authentic Prada Factory Outlet Online 1kg cut rhubarb, before it goes in the tray or the pan, is a good starter sweetener. Thereafter, add more sugar to taste. The first two recipes this week describe both these processes, so you’re pretty much covered, really.

Tart, cheeky and versatile: that’s rhubarb for you. Try as it might, celery will never be half as much fun.

Baked, peppered rhubarb with black pudding

Tart, juice-soaked, lightly peppery rhubarb is a very pleasing foil to Authentic Prada Bags For Sale Philippines the rich, savoury denseness of black pudding. This is also the way to prepare rhubarb to serve alongside the aforementioned oily fi sh, and it works well, instead of apple sauce, on the side with roast pork or duck. Serves four as a starter.

300g rhubarb

25g golden caster or granulated sugar

Freshly ground black pepper

250g black pudding, cut into thick chunky slices

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Trim the rhubarb and cut into 5cm lengths. Put in an oven dish, scatter over the sugar and a generous grinding of black pepper and toss lightly together. Cover the dish with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir the rhubarb lightly in its juices, without squashing it too much, and leave to cool.

When you’re ready to serve, heat some olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the black pudding for about five minutes, until it starts to get nice and crisp on the outside. At the same time, in a small separate pan, warm through the rhubarb. Serve the chunks of hot black pudding with a spoonful of the juicy rhubarb and some bread for wiping the plates.

Rhubarb, custard and rich yogurt

A simple variation on the classic rhubarb fool, but a very classy one. Serves six for pudding.

1kg forced rhubarb, trimmed and cut Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Online Shop into short (4-5cm) lengths

Juice of a large orange

125g golden caster sugar

For the custard

250ml double cream

250ml whole milk

1 split vanilla pod

50g caster sugar

2 whole eggs and 4 extra egg yolks

To serve with:

500ml thick, rich yogurt, such as organic Guernsey or Jersey yogurt

First make the custard. Scald the cream and milk with the vanilla pod (bring to just below boiling point then take off the heat) and leave to infuse for a few minutes. Scrape out the seeds into Authentic Prada Shoes Sale the hot milk and cream and drop the vanilla pod back in, too. In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs and extra yolks and pour over the hot, vanilla-infused milk and cream. Whisk together and return to the pan over a very low heat. You can leave the vanilla pod in throughout.

Heat gently, stirring constantly, until the mixture starts to thicken and will coat the back of your wooden spoon. Take it as far as you dare without boiling, and therefore curdling, it. If this starts to happen, dip the base of the pan at once in a bowl of cold water, stir well for another minute or so, without scraping the bottom, and strain through a sieve to Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada remove any curdled threads.

Remove and discard the vanilla pod, (if you haven’t already). Cool and then chill the custard. It should be thick-but-pourable when set, but you will have to pull off the skin.

Put the rhubarb, orange juice and sugar in a pan over a low heat and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. Once simmering, it will take only five minutes Authentic Prada Handbags Canada or so for the rhubarb to break down into a purée. You can stop it when some of the rhubarb is still just holding its shape, but make sure it is quite tender and not at all crunchy.

Use a sieve to strain off a little of the syrupy juice, so you get a slightly denser compote of rhubarb and some good, tart rhubarb syrup for the next recipe. Chill the compote.

To serve, put a couple of tablespoons of the compote into a slightly tilted bowl, turn the bowl slightly, spoon a couple of tablespoons of custard alongside the compote, tilt, and do the same with the thick yogurt. The idea is that the three elements – custard, rhubarb and yogurt – stay approximately separate in the bowl. It’s the Authentic Prada Factory Outlet Online eater’s prerogative to dip and mix – a little, a lot, or not all – sampling different proportions of the three elements, separately or together, etc.

Rhubarb bellini

I developed this fruity pink fizz as a way of using up the syrup produced from stewing a panful of rhubarb, as above. It’s a wonderful, festive drink. Serves six.

100ml rhubarb syrup, from recipe above, chilled

1 bottle dry sparkling wine, chilled

½ stem forced rhubarb, cut into thin sticks (optional, for garnish)

Beaten egg white

Caster sugar (optional, for garnish)

Pour the chilled syrup into champagne flutes, then top up with the chilled sparkling wine. The mix will foam enthusiastically, so let it settle and top up again. You want to mix the two in a ratio of one part syrup to four parts fizz. To finish the drinks with a bit of pizzazz, dip the baby rhubarb stalks in the lightly beaten egg white and then Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Uk Sale in the caster sugar to ‘frost’ them, and use as decorative but edible swizzle sticks.