I had meant to write about Diana Henry's 'Food From Plenty' tonight - actually I've been meaning to write about it for weeks but other things keep pushing in and today is no exception which is a shame because it's excellent and doesn't deserve to be sidelined. It's moment will come soon. Meanwhile a trip out to buy milk and glare at the 'G' section in Waterstones fiction department because they still don't have those Rumer Godden books (how I spend my weekends maybe needs re-addressing) led to bargains - bunches of daffodils for 10p each (I've never had so many daffodils in the house before, and as I type I can hear them popping open; it's very disconcerting) and cheap English rhubarb.
Rhubarb is always a favourite, forced rhubarb even more so, and what could be better than supporting a home grown industry? Absolutely nothing could be better if it involves rhubarb. Anyway I managed to come home with about 2 kilos and the question of what to do with it all. I also got a very decent litre of vodka at a knock down price so schnapps was an obvious choice. Nigella has a recipe, so does Diana Henry in Salt Sugar Smoke, and so does Mary Prior in 'Rhubarbaria'. I've gone with Diana Henry's but basically it's rhubarb, sugar, and vodka, I'm guessing quantities don't matter very much - you fill a jar with rhubarb, add sugar, let it melt and get all juicy over night, and then top up with vodka before letting it mature for a month.
I also went with Diana Henry's rhubarb jelly recipe because it uses apples as well which meant I had enough rhubarb left to make the rhubarb muffins from Mary Prior's book. The apple rhubarb mix is draining into a bowl at the moment but it doesn't look like it's going to produce a whole lot of juice, if the jelly is as good as I hope it will be I'll try making more before the season ends.
|juices beginning to macerate; very exciting!|
As for the muffins - I've never had much luck with muffins in the past, they've been okay but a little bit underwhelming but these are brilliant. Fruity, not to sweet, moist - generally delicious (I've eaten 2 already)... One of the things I love about 'Rhubarbaria' is that each recipe comes with a provenance, these muffins come from Canada with a charming story attached.
Mix 150g plain flour with 1 and a 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, 100g of sugar, 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla extract, 120 mls of milk, 60mls of sunflower oil, and 1 egg. When just combined throw in a cup and a half of rhubarb chopped into small squares (that's about 4 small stalks) stir in and divide into muffin cases. Sprinkle the tops with caster sugar and bake for about 30 minutes at 190 C/ gas mark 5. Very enjoyable.
I've written about 'Rhubarbaria' before, it's a terrific little book, and should be indispensable to anybody who likes rhubarb even a little bit. It's far more than a cookbook, I get lost in it every time I consult it; it's the sort of book that begs to have cuttings added to it (I have) and invites you to imagine something of the lives of all the very many people who are the source for it's recipes.