Rhubarb is strictly a vegetable as it is the stem of a plant, and can be eaten in both sweet and savoury dishes. It works well with trout, mackerel, salmon, duck and turkey used as a sauce. Once the stems are thick and green they are coarser and tarter. To prepare, cut off the leaves and root, then wash and chop the stems. There is no need to peel it before use. Rhubarb is always cooked. The leaves are poisonous and must not be eaten.
If you are lucky enough to have rhubarb growing in your garden, cover the plant with a box or large bucket as soon as it shows signs of growing. The rhubarb will grow very quickly under these conditions and the stems will be pink and tender. Although used moreover as a dessert, it is available from about April onwards, one of the earliest vegetable crops to ripen. There are about 60 different varieties and on a nutritional level it is low in carbohydrates, high in vitamins and is also thought to speed up metabolism and aid weight loss. Rhubarb can be stored in a plastic bag in the fridge for 2 -3 weeks and can be frozen raw, blanch for 1 minute in boiling water or stewed.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Serves 8 –10 slices
Ingredients:For the Cake
225g unsalted butter/margarine
225g caster sugar
225g Self- raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Grated zest of 1 orange
170g rhubarb – trimmed and cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) lengths
75g ground almonds
110g Brazil nuts – coarsely chopped
For the Custard
6 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
500ml milk or Soya milk
1 tablespoon custard powder
2 tablespoons brandy
MethodFor the Cake
1) Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4.
2) Grease and base line a deep 22.5-cm (9 inch) cake tin. Dust the sides with flour and shake out.
3) Cream the butter or margarine and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the sifted flour, baking powder and orange zest.
4) Whisk in all the eggs and ground almonds and beat well.
5) Stir in the rhubarb and brazil nuts.
6) Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and level the surface.
7) Bake in the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes until well-risen and firm to touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
For the Custard
1) Beat the eggs and sugar together until pale and thick.
2) Bring the milk to the boil. Take 1 tablespoon of the milk and mix with the custard powder to form a paste.
3) Whisk the remaining milk in to the custard paste. Pour the custard milk into the egg and sugar mixture. Add the brandy. Mix together.
4) Heat gently, stirring continuously until the custard coats the back of a spoon. (The custard can be made up to 4 hours in advance and reheated in the microwave.)
To serve the stylish way:
Pour some hot brandy custard into a glass bowl and sit a slice of cake on top.