Saturday, 11 August 2012
You may remember me mentioning earlier this season how horribly my rhubarb was doing . . . for the second year in a row no less . . . and we'd very generously fed it with manure last autumn too . . . The Toddster wanted to get rid of the plants and start again. I said no . . . let's move them and give them another chance, and so . . . we did. Guess what??? We are now enjoying a lovely second crop!!! (I love it when I'm right. ☺)
Rhubarb is one of my favourite fruits . . . and yes, I do know that technically it is a vegetable, and NOT a fruit . . . but I enjoy it in the same way as I do a fruit. It has been ever so . . .
When I was a young girl, my mother would treat us every spring to a thick stick of fresh rhubarb . . . raw. We would each be given a little bowl of sugar and we would sit there, dipping the ends of our stick of rhubarb in the sugar and then sucking on it . . . eventually biting off the ends only to do it all over again, until . . . the stick of rhubarb, and the sugar were all gone.
Oh my, how my jaw and cheeks used to ache at that intitial sour bite, only slightly tinged with sweet . . . but then again, those aching cheeks were part of the pleasure. We would sit there and suck and chew and try to outdo each other with sour faces . . . what fun it was.
It's been a very long time since I have sucked on a raw stick of rhubarb, sugar or not . . . I much prefer to succumb to it's pleasures in other ways . . . and none of them very sour, more apt to deliver a soft moan of delight, rather than a jaw aching wince.
I love rhubarb pie . . . the crust all flakey and buttery, so crisp that it crackles slightly when you dip a fork into it . . . golden crumbs scattering across your plate . . . and then that unctuously delicious rhubarb filling. Oh my . . . tis wonderful . . . expecially when served warm with an ice cold scoop of vanilla ice cream gilding it's surface and melting down into all of that sweet and buttery toothsome delight, in slow rivelets of cold pleasure . . .
Or in a crumble . . . sweet scrummy joy . . . with a rich buttery and oaty crumble on top . . . almost like a flapjack. Tis custard we enjoy with a nice rhubarb crumble . . . rhubarb and custard being a flavour marriage made in heaven. Warm custard please . . . and lashings of it.
Then again . . . there are these lovely little rhubarb puddings . . . with slices of fresh pink rhubarb . . . baked into, and all nestled amidst a cakey type of pudding . . . almondy and short . . . moreishly and delightfully tart . . . with just a touch of sweet glaze and crunch from the demerara sugar you've sprinkled on top before baking. Vanilla bean ice cream is lovely with this as well . . . but then again . . .
So is a huge dollop of plain . . . full fat farm yoghurt. There is nothing to take away from the sweet tartness of the rhubarb . . . and yet it works so perfectly . . . tis unctuous and rich . . . and just a tiny bit sinful, but then . . . why not. We only live once.
You would be forgiven for thinking this very plain and unimaginably boring . . . but then again . . . you would . . . quite simply be . . . very, very wrong.
Light and easy. Beautiful served warm or cold, with or without vanilla bean ice-cream.
150g of caster sugar (superfine, 2/3 cup)
3 large free range eggs
250ml of no fat evaporated milk (1 cup)
(This is the carnation type of milk, not the sweetened condensed. You may also use single cream, if you wish.)
120g of ground almonds (1 cup)
1 tsp pure vanilla extact
5 to 6 thin stalks of fresh rhubarb, cut to fit the casseroles.
2 TBS demerara sugar (coarse sugar)
vanilla ice cream to serve (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter 4 small individual casserole ramekins. (You will want them to each hold about 250ml or 1 cup.)
Measure the caster sugar, eggs, milk, ground almonds and vanilla into a bowl. Whisk together to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dishes, dividing it equally amongst them. Top each pudding with some of the rhubarb stalks. Sprinkle each with some of the demerara sugar. Bake for 25 minutes, or until set. Serve warm or cold with Ice-cream.
Note: you can also top this with summer berries if that's what you have. It's really delicious that way too.
If I'm not mistaken, I do believe that this pudding is gluten free.