Tag Archives: seasonal

Rhubarb infused with Sweet Violets.

Although rhubarb and custard is an unbeatable combination, I’ve been experimenting with floral infusions. Rhubarb and Rose works well (see my previous post on Rhubarb and rose, custard crumble cupcakes). I was inspired to use violets when I noticed them popping up in the garden. And I thought, well, when in season… Don’t worry, this not overbearingly Parma violet flavoured. It’s quiet subtlety lovely.

   

 

 

So here’s my recipe, if you can even call it that…it’s so simple!

  • A bundle of rhubarb sticks (I used about 7) trimmed and chopped into bite size chunks.
  • A splash of water (I used about 150ml).
  • Sugar or other sweetener to taste (I used agave syrup)
  • Freshly picked violets (or use rose petals and a small splash of rosewater? Or orange zest and a small splash of orange blossom water? Or freshly grated ginger? Or a teaspoon or so of vanilla essence?…)

Put the rhubarb, water and sweetener in a large pan over a moderately high heat. Let it start to bubble and fizz and then stir well with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring until you reach your desired consistency, I like it mostly purée but with a few lumps of rhubarb  left for texture. Taste and adjust the sweetness to your liking. Then take the pan off the heat and add the violet flowers. Stir them in gently to infuse their subtle flavour while the rhubarb is still hot, but don’t re-heat. Let it cool and keep it in a container in the fridge to use for quick delicious desserts or snacks. My favourite way is with a lovely, thick and creamy, full fat Greek style yoghurt as a sort of healthy fool…sprinkle with nuts and some more edible flowers and you have a quite special spring treat! Or why not try it spooned over some good vanilla ice cream and serve with crisp shortbread biscuits?

Enjoy! Liz x

   

  

 

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Rhubarb & Rose, Custard Crumble Cupcakes.

 

I adore rhubarb! I know it looks slightly terrifying to cook but it’s actually a piece of cake. Literally here. Today I decided to softly stew the rhubarb with rose and I can’t wait to eat the left-overs as a sort of breakfast fool with yogurt and chopped nuts in the morning. 

Rhubarb is great treated simply (as above), but what follows here is a bit of a special treat for you all. These cupcakes are inspired by rhubarb crumble of course, and by my much-used and loved hummingbird bakery cookbook. In particular their raspberry trifle cupcakes. I have used rhubarb purée instead of raspberry jam and my custard recipe, which replaces the traditional cupcake icing, is what I consider to be ‘proper’ custard. And of course it’s topped with a crunchy, buttery crumble. I hope you’ll give it a go this spring and let me know how you get on. 

   

I won’t give measurements here as they really are unnecessary. Simply roughly chop some fresh rhubarb and pop it into a pan. Then add a splash or two of water. Sprinkle over a couple of tablespoons of sugar (or honey/maple/agave) and cook on a moderately high heat for about 5-10 minutes. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon until the rhubarbs starts turning to a soft purée. Taste and add more sugar/syrup to your liking. I like mine quite tangy. Add a couple of teaspoons of rosewater and a few pinches of dried/fresh rose petals and stir again. Set it to one side to cool while you make your cakes.

 

First make a quick crumble topping by chopping about 50g of butter into a bowl, add 50g flour, 30g sugar and 30g of ground almonds. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until a rough, wet beach-sand-like texture forms. Spread onto a baking sheet covered with baking parchment and bake at 180 for about 10 minutes or so until the crumbles are nicely coloured. Don’t worry if they merge together. Once it’s cooled you can just crumble it up again. 

Make the cupcake batter.

Put 240ml milk, 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp rosewater into a measuring jug. Mix well with a handheld electric whisk.

Then in a large mixing bowl whisk 80g very soft butter, 250g caster sugar and 250g flour (use either self raising or plain with a tablespoon of baking powder added). Once the mixture is well incorporated and resembles bread crumbs slowly add the wet mixture from the jug whilst whisking well to combine. But don’t over-mix!

Divide the mixture into 12 muffin cases and bake for just under 20 minutes in a pre-heated oven (180C). I always turn my muffin tin around after the first 10 minutes to ensure a fairly even bake. Let the cakes cool slightly in the tin before carefully taking them out and placing them on a cooling rack to completely cool.

Meanwhile make the custard. Pour a 300ml tub of organic double cream into a small milk pan. Add 5-6 egg yolks (5 if large, 6 if smallish), 2 tbsp of caster sugar, 1 tsp rosewater and 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract. Bring it gently to the boil stirring continuously with a heat-proof spatula. Take it off the heat and whisk well. It should be nice and thick now but add a tsp of corn flour and whisk again over a gentle heat if you are having trouble. Pour the custard out into a nice cool bowl and whisk some more. This ensures there are no lumps and helps it cool down faster. 

Then assemble the cakes!

   

   

Cut little hollows in each cake with a sharp knife. Scoop out a bit more of each cake with a teaspoon. Then fill each with a generous spoon of the rhubarb and rose purée. Top with a couple of tablespoons of thick custard and sprinkle over some crunchy crumble. Enjoy! Liz x

   

 


Beetroot & PSB Risotto.

  

Today was a hectic, beans on toast kind of day so, as I promised a recipe a day this week, here’s something I made a couple of weeks ago. 

This is a beautiful, vibrant, pink and green dish. It’s lovely served with lots of chopped dill and some soft, tangy goats cheese. No specific amounts in the recipe I’m afraid, but don’t worry, risotto is a flexible art. I’m sure yours will turn out just fine. I hope you like it! Liz x

  • About one small beetroot per person (either buy those ready cooked & peeled packs or cook & peel your own…boil/roast as you like), diced
  • Diced onion
  • Oil/butter/both
  • Garlic, to taste
  • Fresh thyme leaves
  • Risotto rice
  • A glass of white wine/a splash of vermouth/the juice of a lemon
  • Stock/water & seasoning
  • Purple sprouting broccoli, with the stems split halfway up their length so that they cook evenly

Fry the onion in a little oil/butter on a medium heat until it starts to soften. Then add chopped garlic and diced, cooked beetroot. Sprinkle over the risotto rice and thyme leaves and give it all a good stir. Add the wine/vermouth/lemon juice and stir again. Then add a ladleful of stock/seasoned water at a time and keep stirring until the liquid has been absorbed. Keep adding ladles of stock/water and stirring until the rice is nearly cooked. When you only need to add a last couple of ladles, put the purple sprouting broccoli on the top of the rice to steam and put a lid on. Let it cook for about 3-5 minutes, until the broccoli is cooked through, and then serve immediately. Lemon wedges, chopped dill and cheese on the table.