Tright here was barely a backyard with out its rhubarb patch. Normally near the compost heap, leaves giant sufficient for a toddler at play to cover beneath. Our neighbours, aunts and uncles all had one, crimson stalks to chop for crumble and pie, for chutney and jam and for dipping uncooked into the sugar bowl. I’ve repeatedly tried to develop it, however the crowns fail every time.
Early rhubarb is a deal with. Lengthy, pale stems with a fragile flavour and a hefty price ticket to cheer up a gray winter’s day. One thing to cheer these of us for whom pudding is a necessity somewhat than an choice. Tempting although an old style rhubarb idiot could also be – the pink stalks marbling whipped cream or custard – the flavour of the early, pressured fruit can too simply be smothered. Higher, in all probability, to organize it with out a blanket of dairy produce, the place its flavour can shine.
Orange juice is a pal to rhubarb, as is slightly sugar or a trickle of pale, delicate honey. The spice rack is surprisingly useful, too. Maybe a flower or two of star anise or just a few cardamom pods, cracked open. Probably a clove or two. I’ve a passion for a splash – no extra – of rosewater or orange blossom water, the ghost of aromatic petals wafting up as you open the oven door.
Tender stems – removed from the robust outdated trunks we grew at dwelling – can simply collapse, and I discover them greatest baked somewhat than simmered on the hob. By no means allow them to boil except you’re making a protect. The brief lengths, like sticks of seaside rock, piled on each other and baked with fruit juice and slightly candy spice – a vanilla pod is sweet right here – is nearly all they want. The juice is deepest rose pink and invigoratingly sharp to drink.
Clear, tart notes have been operating amok within the kitchen this week with a tangle of beansprouts, inexperienced mango and cucumber. A salad to accompany some chilli-hot wings eaten with our fingers. A recipe to blow the cobwebs away.
Baked rhubarb with orange and rosewater
Simply as a rose has thorns, the essence distilled from its petals wants treating with care, too. One drop too many and the nice and cozy, fleeting breath of rose turns to cleaning soap, so I add not more than a teaspoon to this. You’ll be able to at all times add extra, later. Get the quantity proper and the impact is as a satisfying as discovering a rose open within the backyard on a gray January day. Serves 4
rhubarb stalks 750g
caster sugar 3 tbsp
cardamom pods 6
rosewater 1 tsp
Trim the rhubarb, then minimize every stalk into 5cm lengths. Pack them right into a baking dish and warmth the oven to 200C/gasoline mark 6.
Halve the orange and squeeze the juice right into a small bowl. Stir within the caster sugar. Crack open the cardamom pods with a heavy weight and add to the juice. Stir within the rosewater, then pour over the rhubarb. Bake for 45 minutes till the stalks are tender, however nonetheless in a single piece. Check them with a skewer.
Take away the dish from the oven and serve with its juices spooned over.
Chicken wings, beansprout and inexperienced mango salad
A vibrant tasting, crunchy salad with scorching, candy chicken wings. You have to forks and fingers for this one. Serves 4
chicken wings 750g
groundnut oil slightly
dried chilli flakes 3 tsp
mild muscovado sugar 2 tbsp
For the salad:
shallot 1, giant
groundnut oil 3 tbsp
rice vinegar 50ml
lime juice 50ml
mild muscovado sugar 1½ tsp
fish sauce 2 tbsp
pink chilli 1, finely chopped
coriander leaves a handful
peanuts 50g, shelled
Warmth the oven to 200C/gasoline mark 6.
Place the wings on a baking tray in a shallow layer, virtually touching. (If they’re too shut collectively they gained’t crisp.)
Pour the oil over the wings, scatter with the dried chilli and slightly salt, then toss to completely coat every wing. Bake for 50 minutes till their pores and skin has began to crisp, then sprinkle flippantly with muscovado sugar and proceed baking for an extra 7 minutes till the sugar has begun to caramelise. Pile the wings in a dish for everybody to assist themselves.
To make the salad, fill a bowl with ice and water then dunk the beanshoots in it to crisp them up. Depart them to soak whilst you put together the remainder of the salad.
Peel the shallot and slice it thinly. In a shallow pan, warmth 2 tbsp of the groundnut oil, then add the shallot and prepare dinner for 7-10 minutes over a average warmth till it begins to show deep gold. Watch fastidiously, stirring sometimes, because it darkens to nut brown. Instantly take away from the warmth and elevate the fried shallots out with a draining spoon on to kitchen paper.
Pour the rice vinegar right into a mixing bowl and squeeze within the lime juice. Add the muscovado sugar and stir till dissolved, then add the fish sauce.
Slice the chillies in half, scrape out the seeds, with the purpose of a knife. F inely slice the chillies then add to the dressing.
Peel the cucumber – or not, as you want – then minimize in half lengthways. Slice the halves into strips concerning the thickness of a matchstick, then minimize into 10cm lengths. Add them to the dressing. Peel the mango and minimize the flesh into lengthy, vast slices, working across the stone. Reduce every slice into skinny strips slightly thicker than the cucumber.
Tear the coriander leaves into items and toss with the mango and dressing. Drain the bean sprouts, shake them dry and add them, to the dressing too.
Heat the remaining tbsp of oil in a shallow pan and add the peanuts, shifting them across the pan till they’re golden brown. Carry them out with a draining spoon and sprinkle with slightly finely floor salt, then roughly chop them. (I like to cut some actually finely and preserve different items bigger.)
Add the onions and peanuts to the salad and serve with the recent wings.
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