Read our latest recipe in Sherborne Times pages 50-51
Produced in West Yorkshire in an area known as the ‘Wakefield Triangle’ these gorgeous pink sticks of tart deliciousness, manage to fill the hungry gap of British ‘seasonal fruit’ single handed. The resurgence of rhubarb’s popularity is due to the determination of grower Janet Oldroyd Hulme. Representing the last few family-run farms, Janet has battled to ensure that Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb was awarded the status of ‘protected designation of origin’ in 2010.
The organic rhubarb is lifted in November and then encouraged to grow in long, warm, dark sheds and then harvested by candlelight. It grows with such ferocity that a popping sound can be heard as the buds burst into life. Great care is needed to gather this labour intensive crop which deserves to be cooked gently to enjoy at its very best.
Cooks Tips Wash, trim and place in a non metallic dish to gently poach, uncovered in the oven. Cook with a little orange juice, fresh ginger and sugar. The tender stems will keep their shape and make a delicious compote to serve with yoghurt or custard.
Strain the juice and use to flavour a cocktail – perfect for St. Valentine’s Day.
Mix with whipped double cream and vanilla for a traditional fruit fool. Serve with homemade ginger biscuits.
All Hallows Ginger Biscuits
225g (8oz) self raising flour
Half a teaspoon of salt – we like to use Maldon and grind this in a pestle & mortar
Two teaspoons ground ginger
Two teaspoons of mixed spice
A generous grating of nutmeg
110g (4oz) butter
110g (4oz) caster sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup – warm the tin (with lid removed) in some hot water to enable you to pour the syrup easily
You will need a flat baking sheet lined with parchment.
Preheat the oven to 175 C or Gas Mark 4
In a food processor combine flour, salt, sugar, spices and butter together or rub mixture together in a bowl with your finger tips to resemble fine crumbs.
Add warmed syrup to mix and continue processing so that the mixture comes together forming a soft dough. Or, if working by hand, use a wooden spoon and continue mixing so that all of the ingredients are combined.
Once you have formed a soft dough, divide this into equal pieces and roll each into a small ball.
Allowing plenty of space for the biscuits to spread, place dough balls onto lined baking tray and bake for 12-15 minutes.
Once cooked, carefully transfer to a wire cooking rack and continue to baking remaining shaped dough in batches.
Other seasonal treats
Chicory – serve finely shredded with anchovies and toasted pine nuts for a winter salad or cut in half and braise with a little homemade vegetable stock, top with croutons and lardons of crispy bacon to serve for lunch or supper.
Savoy Cabbage – blanch the largest leaves in boiling water and immediately plunge in chilled water. Use to line individual greased pudding basins and stuff with diced, blanched carrots, sautéed onion, celery and fresh chopped thyme. Fold the overlapping cabbage leaves over the stuffing and then cover with foil to reheat. Invert to serve.
Alternatively roughly chop and stir fry before adding to creamy mash and softened leeks for a comforting Colcannon.