All that rhubarb.....
The garden part of this blog doesn't get much of a look in, which probably reflects the time that is spent on it relative to everything else I write about. One thing with living in a fairly rural environment is the glut: at this time of year, everyone I see I mentally size up: are they likely to have rhubarb? - in which case any offer of some of mine is only going to meet with a hollow laugh (it's a good year for rhubarb, this year), or grow only flowers, in which case there will be enthusiastic agreement to take some of it off my hands.
Our rhubarb patch, after a couple of sulky years when it protested that it did not appreciate the wind swept climes of our fruit garden, has now decided that wind is for wimps, and it flourisheth even more than the green bay tree (and I have plenty of that on offer too, if anyone's interested).
Last year I made rhubarb chutney - excellent, but I'm not sure I can face the thought of the reek of vinegar taking over the house for days - so this year I was looking for other things. For fellow rhubarb glut sufferers out there, here is an excellent recipe for rhubarb ice cream. The children had one taste and then refused to touch it, but we thought it was delicious. The recipe comes from The Ice Cream Book, by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis, Hermes House, 2007.
Rhubarb and Ginger Ice Cream
5 pieces of stem ginger, finely chopped
1lb trimmed rhubarb, sliced
4 oz caster sugar
2 tbspn water
5 oz mascarpone
1/4 pint whipping cream
1. Put the rhubarb, water and sugar in a pan, cover and simmer for 5 minutes until the rhubarb is just tender. I hadn't thought this through when I picked the rhubarb, and so had some sticks that were a tad, shall we say, resistant. I simmered it for much longer than 5 minutes and the end result was fine, but when I do this again, shall choose sticks of the same degree of ripeness.
2. Blend or food processor the rhubarb until smooth. Chill (if you have time - of course I was doing this in a rush near bed time and so didn't.)
3. Mix the mascarpone, cream and ginger with the rhubarb puree. The recipe doesn't say whether or not you should actually whip the whipping cream. I had forgotten to buy cream, so only had double, and not quite enough. I made up the difference with mascarpone, and was too tired to whip the cream, so didn't. I think if you did it would improve the texture, but it was fine without.
4. Freeze for 6 hours or so, beating once or twice to break up the ice crystals. Of course, as I did this just before bed, the chances of my doing any beating of the mixture were zero. I have to say the result was still good, though the texture would have been better if I'd stirred myself from bed in the still watches and beaten it.
The end result, I have to say, was jolly good. The texture could maybe do with some work, but the taste was fine, and it used up some rhubarb, which was the aim of the exercise. If I am feeling very noble, I may make some rhubarb sorbet, and shall report back on that.