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Cover: A dish for all seasons

Less than 90 mins

12May 12

Rhubarb and Marzipan Crumble

 

Rhubarb and Marzipan crumbleSpring is in the air! Well, perhaps not quite yet. But no matter the time of year, I enjoy the occasional treat to satisfy my sweet tooth. However, knowing that I am also eating fruits and veggies helps me justify these cravings.

Rhubarb comes into season in March and is readily available in the UK until May - so there’s still a chance to get some good rhubarb, just! Every year, as soon as I see it in the greengrocer, I pick it up so I can make a favourite of mine, rhubarb crumble.

 

 

This year I made this classic crumble pudding with a sweet surprise.  In this recipe, the natural tartness of the rhubarb contrasts really well with the almondy sweetness of the marzipan.

What you need:

  • 10 rhubarb sticks
  • 6 tbsp caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 110g Demerara sugar
  • 110g butter, left at room temperature for a while to soften
  • 190g flour
  • 150g Marzipan, cut into thin strips

What to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Chop the rhubarb into cubes, pop it on an oven tray, sprinkle over the water and caster sugar and bake it in the oven for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the rhubarb from the oven once it is cooked, and transfer it to an ovenproof dish.
  4. Create the crumble by rubbing the butter, flour and Demerara sugar together.
  5. Place the thin strips of marzipan across the top of the rhubarb before sprinkling the crumble mixture on.
  6. Bake the crumble in the oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the rhubarb mixture is soft and bubbling and the topping is golden brown and crispy.
  7. Serve with vanilla ice cream. (optional)
30 mins to prepare, 30 minutes to 1 hour to cook
 
Makes: 4 servings

A little more about rhubarb…

The edible part of the rhubarb plant, the stalk, is technically a vegetable, though we think of it as a fruit.

Rhubarb seems to have become a popular food in the 17th Century when cheap sugar became accessible.

Rhubarb is thought to have first been cultivated in China in 2700BC.

It is said that the Romans believed that people who ate rhubarb were barbaric in nature (possibly because of its natural bitterness) and that the name rhubarb may have been derived from the Latin word rhabarbarum meaning ‘root of the barbarians’.

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30Mar 12

Poached Pears with a Hot White Chocolate Liqueur Sauce

Pears with chocolate sauceIf frozen berries and white chocolate make a nice pairing, I think that the combination of pears and white chocolate is pretty divine, especially when the white chocolate sauce contains a little liqueur.  What a nice way to round off a special meal!

 

March is the last month of the pear season in the UK.  You can still find lots of delicious varieties out there.  Poached pears with a hot white chocolate liqueur sauce uses Conference pears.  This fruit is one of my personal favourites.  Pears have a special kind of sweetness and when ripe, a great softness, although pears also have that distinctive slightly gritty texture to them.  Apparently, when they are picked early and ripen off the tree, that gritty texture is less prevalent.

What you need:

  • 6 conference pears, stalks in place, peeled
  • 85g Demerara sugar
  • 3 tbsp honey, runny and clear
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • A few drops of vanilla essence
  • 450ml white wine
  • 255g white chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 120g butter, unsalted
  • 4-6 tbsp white chocolate liqueur

What to do:

  1. In a deep and heavy-based saucepan, add the white wine, cinnamon, vanilla essence and honey, and bring the mixture up to a gentle simmer.  Add the pears and turn the heat down to low, poaching the pears for about half an hour or until they are translucent in appearance.  Turn the pears over every now and then during poaching.
  2. Whilst the pears are cooking, you can get going with the white chocolate liqueur sauce.  Gently melt the white chocolate and the butter together in a separate pan.  When molten and combined, remove from the heat and stir in the white chocolate liqueur.
  3. Once the pears are translucent and soft, remove them from the saucepan and place them in the serving bowls, then reduce the white wine mixture to a third of its quantity.
  4. Pour some of the white wine reduction over each pear before pouring on the white chocolate sauce.

If you want to be really decadent, you can make a milk chocolate sauce as well. Take 255g of milk chocolate in small pieces and 120g of butter. As with the white chocolate sauce, stir together over a low heat until it is all molten and combined. Pour on top of the pears after the wine reduction and before the white chocolate.

Less than 30 minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to 1 hour to cook

Makes: 6 puddings

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29Mar 12

Baked Salmon with Red Pesto, Red Peppers and Tomatoes

Baked Salmon with Red peppers and TomatoesBaked salmon with red pesto, red peppers and tomatoes is a low-fat, nutritious meal for two.  You do not need to add any oil; the salmon will bake in its own juices, along with those of the vegetables and the lime.

Roast Salmon with vegetables is also quite tasty as the veggies provide a perfect complement for this light dish.

Salmon is regionally seasonal, following a complex series of migrations as the fish move from river to river throughout the year.  It’s fascinating stuff!  Make sure to look up when Salmon is in a river near you.

What you need:

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 2 tbsp red pesto
  • 1 large red pepper, deseeded then cut into long, thin strips
  • 4 garden tomatoes cut into halves or small cubes
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • A couple of sprigs of fresh basil to garnish

What to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  2. Place a large sheet of aluminium foil over your baking tray, enough to comfortably wrap around all of the ingredients, sealing in the cooking juices.
  3. Lay the salmon onto the prepared tray with the skin side down; spread the red pesto over the top of each fillet.
  4. Arrange the red peppers and tomatoes all around the outside of the fillets, squeeze lime juice over everything, and sprinkle over the lime zest before seasoning with salt and pepper.
  5. Wrap the aluminium foil around all of the ingredients, creating a parcel effect, and bake in the oven for 25-45 minutes (depending on the size of your salmon fillets).  When the fish is opaque throughout, it is cooked. Check that there is no translucency to the middle part of the salmon fillets before serving.  You can also remove the foil from the top of the fish for the second half of cooking if you want to add a little crispness and don’t mind losing some of your cooking juices.  If you do this though, be sure to create a tray effect with aluminium foil (with folded edges to each side) plus a separate foil cover at the start, so that when you remove the cover, the juices won’t escape.  Both methods are very tasty.
  6. Serve the salmon over the vegetables. Pour over the juices, and top off with a sprig of fresh basil.

20 minutes to prepare – 25 to 45 minutes to cook

Makes: 2 main courses

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