I have complained at length about our new allotment: it’s smaller, there’s too much shade, the soil is in a much worse state. But there’s actually one very good thing about it: the rhubarb plantation. Probably because a good part of the plot is too shady for annual vegetables, the previous owner planted it with rhubarb. Lots of rhubarb: there are at least 20 plants. If you’ve been around for a while, you might have noticed I love rhubarb – there are already 3 rhubarb recipes in the archives. But we never had enough of it and now we do. I already have at least three other recipes lined up that I want to try, but our first harvest of tender pink stalks deserved a gentle treatment with little adornment.
Back at the beginning of February, in a spell of mild weather, the plants started growing and we covered one with a black bucket to blanch it. After that the weather turned arctic and the plants outside hardly grew at all. But the one that was covered continued to grow in the cozy environment under the bucket and last Sunday it was so big it was pushing the bucket up, despite the brick we put on top. We picked our first rhubarb and immediately covered another plant.
left: unblanched plant, right: blanched
We had this for dessert and I totally irritated the kids by saying “Isn’t it delicious?” about ten times while we were eating.
Poached rhubarb with yogurt cream
450 g (1 pound) young rhubarb stalks (after removing the leaves)
90 g (½ cup) raw cane sugar
juice of 1 orange
2 cardamom pods
2 start anise
125 ml (½ cup) whole milk yogurt
125 ml (½ cup) cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp sugar
Cut the rhubarb in pieces about 5 cm (2 inch) long. In a medium heavy-bottomed pan, dissolve sugar in orange juice. Add rhubarb and spices and simmer gently over a low heat until tender to the point of a knife. With a slotted spoon, take out the rhubarb and set aside. Boil the remaining juices for a couple more minutes, until the syrup starts to thicken. Remove spices and let cool completely.
In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, cream and vanilla until the cream thickens and starts to form soft peaks.
Divide the rhubarb between individual glasses, spoon over the syrup and top with the cream.