Rhubarb always makes me pretty lively. Not only the compulsive rhubarb celebrating the beginning of the year – incredibly pink when all else is gray – but also the field rhubarb, which has just come into season. While it’s more muted in color than its pink cousin, it’s still a real sign of the transition from winter to spring. Today’s recipes reflect that celebration, complete with the obligatory booze-filled bite in tow.
Ceviche with mackerel, rhubarb and black pepper (pictured above)
Ceviche might seem like a dish you would eat at a restaurant instead of making at home, but give it a try. It might sound a bit cheesy, but it’s not at all – the only requirement is a freshly-cracked mackerel. Feel free to use sea bass or sea bream instead.
preparation 15 minutes
maceration 15 minutes
cure 25 mins
a cook 20 minutes
serves 4 as a starter
130g rhubarb (approx. 2 stalks), trimmed and cut diagonally into 1 cm wide pieces
25 g powdered sugar
2 lemons – 1 left whole, the other finely shaved to obtain 4 strips of zest, then juiced to obtain 1 tbsp
1 orange – finely shaved to get 5 strips of zest, then juiced to get 2 tsp juice
2 fresh mackerel fillets (240 g), skinned and boned
15 g table saltplus extra for maceration
1 small shallotpeeled and cut into very thin rings (30g)
5g parsley leavesroughly chopped
60 ml olive oil
2 dried hibiscus leaves, or ⅛ teaspoon leaves from 1 hibiscus tea bag (optional)
Sea salt and black pepper flakes
Preheat the oven to 180°C (Fan 160°C)/350°F/Gas 4. Put the rhubarb in a small casserole dish with 20 g sugar, the citrus zest and a pinch of salt, toss carefully, distribute and leave to macerate for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, pat the mackerel dry and place on a plate. In a small bowl, mix the salt and the remaining 5g of sugar, sprinkle evenly over the fish meat, then leave uncovered in the fridge for 25 minutes to allow it to set gently; Don’t leave it longer or the fish will over-harden.
Add 150ml water to the rhubarb, stir gently, then cover the mold tightly with foil and bake for 15 minutes, until the rhubarb is just done but still has a bit of a bite to it. Remove, cover and let cool to room temperature. Gently lift out the rhubarb pieces, leaving the liquid in the bowl, then transfer to a large bowl. Strain the liquid into a bowl or pitcher (you’ll have about 120ml), then discard the citrus zest. Stir the lemon and orange juice into the liquid bowl – this is your dressing.
Carefully wash the salt and sugar mixture off the salted mackerel with cold water, then pat the fish dry and cut into ½ cm thick pieces. Place the fish in a shallow bowl, pour over 40ml of the dressing and leave to marinate for 10 to 20 minutes. Drain and discard the dressing.
Meanwhile, cover and trim the remaining lemon, then use a small, sharp knife to remove the skin and pulp. Cut between the membranes to loosen each segment, then cut into thirds. Add the lemon wedges to the rhubarb bowl with the drained mackerel, shallot, parsley, 1/8 teaspoon salt flakes and a good pinch of pepper and mix gently.
To serve, divide the mackerel mixture among four small plates. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of dressing over each serving (save the excess for another use; it goes really well with tequila, by the way), then spoon 1 tablespoon of oil over each serving. Finely grate the hibiscus leaves, if using, and serve.
Rhubarb and apple crumble with baharat pudding
This pudding is very special and worth making as it adds a welcome warmth to the crumble. If you can’t get hold of baharat, a mixture of ground cinnamon, cardamom, and mixed spices will do.
preparation 20 minutes
maceration 20 minutes
a cook 1 hour 30 minutes
For the pudding
40 g flaked almondstoasted
380ml whole milk
190ml double cream
¾ tbsp baharat spice mix
90 g egg yolk (from about 7 large eggs)
120g powdered sugar
For the crumble
150 grams of regular flour
35 g ground almonds
70 g powdered sugar
½ tsp salt
120g refrigerated unsalted buttercut into 1 cm cubes
50 g jumbo rolled oats (or oatmeal)
For the fruit
4 medium Bramley applespeeled, cored and cut into 3-4 cm pieces (650 g)
3 stalks of rhubarbtrimmed and cut into 3-4 cm pieces (350 g)
1 lemon – Zest finely grated to yield 1½ tsp and juiced to yield 1 tbsp
220g powdered sugar
Place toasted almonds, milk, cream and baharat in a medium skillet and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until steaming but not quite simmering.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar, then slowly stir in 1/3 of the hot milk. Repeat until all of the milk is incorporated and the pudding is smooth. Place a fine-mesh sieve over the now empty pan, then strain out the custard. Pour the strained almonds into a bowl and set the sieve aside for the time being.
Return the skillet to medium-high and gently cook the pudding, stirring constantly, until it covers the back of a spoon, about 7 minutes. Place the strainer over a medium bowl, pour in the pudding, cover the surface with reusable kitchen foil to prevent a skin from forming, then set aside to cool. (If you want to progress further, you can make the pudding up to this point and then refrigerate it for up to two days.)
For the crumble, mix together the flour, ground almonds, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the flour mixture with your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs; work quickly so the butter doesn’t melt. Mix in the rolled oats and the crushed almonds, then squeeze small pieces of the mixture together to form clumps of varying sizes, leaving some loose crumbs. Refrigerate until needed.
Now cook the crumble. Preheat oven to 200°C (180°C fan)/375°F/Gas 4. In a 10-inch (26cm) casserole dish, combine the apples, rhubarb, lemon zest and juice, and sugar, then toss and macerate for 20 minutes to allow the rhubarb to release some of the juice. Evenly distribute lumps of crumble on top, bake for 40 minutes, until golden and bubbly, then remove and let sit for 5 minutes.
Serve the hot crumble straight from the pan with the cold (or heated, if you prefer) custard.
Rhubarb and Sweet Vermouth Trifle with Amaretti
There’s something so silly and celebratory about a little thing: over-the-top, booze-filled, layered, people-friendly, and epic in the planning. It’s my absolute favorite dessert on a desert island. Plan ahead though: the jelly needs to set in the fridge for at least 12 hours, preferably overnight; it can even be done a few days in advance.
preparation 10 mins
a cook 70 minutes
set/chill 12 hrs+
For the jelly
550gr rhubarb (4-6 stalks), trimmed and cut diagonally into 4 cm long pieces
2½ tbsp dried hibiscus leavesor the contents of 1 hibiscus tea bag
1-2 lemons – Scraped peel to get 6 strips, then juiced to get 2½ tbsp
230g powdered sugar
150 ml sweet red vermouth (I used Martini Rosso)
2 sheets of gelatin
For the pudding
325ml whole milk
½ vanilla beanSeeds scraped and pod reserved, or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
60 g powdered sugar
20 grams of cornmeal
60 g egg yolk (from about 3 eggs)
70 g ladyfingers or Savoiardicut into cubes of about 1 cm
200ml fridge-cold double cream
35 g crispy macaroonscoarsely chopped
Heat oven to 180°C (160°C fan oven)/350°F/gas mark 4, then start the jelly. Place the rhubarb, hibiscus and lemon zest in a 20cm x 20cm casserole dish and sprinkle with the sugar. Stir, then macerate for 20 minutes to allow the rhubarb to release its juices. Add 300ml water, cover tightly with foil and bake for 15-18 minutes until the rhubarb is just cooked through but still has a bite. Allow to cool slightly, then place 12 rhubarb pieces in a bowl and set aside – this is the garnish. With the liquid in the bowl, spoon the remaining rhubarb pieces into a standard 20cm diameter, 1.8 liter trifle bowl.
Pass the rhubarb liquid through a fine mesh sieve set over a medium bowl and add the lemon juice and 100ml vermouth; discard the solids. Pour 450ml of this into a medium saucepan and add the rest to the rhubarb garnish bowl and chill.
Place the gelatin in a medium bowl, cover with ice cold water and soak until soft, 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the rhubarb liquid pan over medium-high heat until hot but not boiling, then remove heat. Lift the gelatine out of the water, squeeze out excess liquid, then add to the hot rhubarb juice and stir to dissolve. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, pour over the rhubarb in the trifle bowl and refrigerate overnight.
For the cream, gently heat 275ml milk and the vanilla seeds and pod in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the sugar, cornstarch, and egg yolks until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add 1/3 of the hot milk to the egg mixture, stirring constantly, then repeat until all of the milk is incorporated. Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook, stirring regularly to keep it from sticking, until the custard takes on the consistency of mayonnaise, 4 to 6 minutes.
Remove from heat, stir in the remaining 50ml milk, then pour into a medium bowl, lift out and discard the vanilla bean and cover the top of the cream with cling film or reusable plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for two to three hours until firm.
Once the pudding and jelly are set, place the ladyfingers on a shallow tray. Drizzle over the remaining 50ml vermouth, cover each sponge, then leave to soak for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whip the cream until fluffy, then chill.
To serve, layer the ladyfingers evenly over the set jelly in the trifle bowl, sprinkle over 25g of the crushed amaretti and spread the cream evenly over the top. Cover with the whipped cream, use a spoon to create peaks on the surface, then arrange the reserved rhubarb pieces neatly on top. Scatter over the remaining shredded amaretti, drizzle over 2 tablespoons of rhubarb juice (save the rest for a cocktail), and serve.