It’s lovely to go on holiday and relax with the family, but it is also lovely to come home. It is especially lovely if when you go on holiday winter seems to still be hanging around and then you come home three weeks later (a longer holiday than planned thanks to that dastardly volcano!) to find that spring has certainly sprung. So much has changed, the trees are in full leaf, the apple blossom is heavy, the wild garlic is everywhere (and past its best for that salad I was planning) and the weeds seem to have taken over the veg patch. We have been back for over a week now and much of that time has been taken up with sorting out all that post that has piled up, cleaning the (volcanic?) dust that has accumulated and doing some heavy-duty gardening. Never before have those knee pad thingys that you can buy from the garden centre seemed so appealing.
What was so lovely to come home to (apart from family and pets) was that first trek around the garden to see what was coming up (ignoring the weeds). The mint, of which there was no sign when we left, is now a foot high. I reprimanded myself for not getting round to cutting last year’s dead sticks back before I left, but that has now been rectified. The rhubarb, which was just a couple of nobbles peering out of brown earth when we left is now positively taking over its corner of the garden. I was very pleased to see both of these things as mint is something which I add to my cooking as often as possible and I love and adore rhubarb.
So, one of the first meals we had on our return was minted aubergines followed by rhubarb crumble. Both of these were demolished before I managed to get the camera out so you may have to wait a while for the recipe for the minted aubergines, but I have made the crumble again and so here it is in all its lovely spring is here glory.
6 sticks of rhubarb, prepared by peeling, if not forced rhubarb, and slicing into chunks
grated zest of 1 orange
juice of ½ orange
4-6 tbsp vanilla sugar
For the topping:
25g (1oz) pecan nuts
175g (7oz) plain flour
100g (4oz) butter
50g (2oz) sugar
Spread the rhubarb into a deep pie dish and grate the zest of an orange over. Pour over the orange juice and sprinkle with the vanilla sugar.
I always prepare my crumble in a food processor by whizzing the flour and nuts together until the nuts are finely ground. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and pulse until the crumble is crumbly. If you don’t have a food processor, then place the pecans into a food bag and bash with a rolling-pin until fine and then add to the flour. Dice the butter and then rub into the flour using your fingertips and then mix in the sugar. Sprinkle this crumble topping all over the rhubarb. I like to have little bits of rhubarb peeking out so that the juices caramelise on the top.
Here is the crumble how is should be eaten, with cream poured generously over, and it’s just as lovely cold as it is hot.