Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Never Rub Another Man's Rhubarb

Rhubarb 'Assiette'
Champagne Jelly, Crumble & Creme Anglaise, Milkshake

     This entry is a tribute to an old colleague come anew.  Mr. Timothy Hall- pastry chef extraordinaire, gentle giant, Kingpin and lynchpin.  As head chef of a hotel, my role was often overseer, bad cop and paper pusher.  Tim was often the executor of my ideas and this collaborative relationship between sous and chef was fruitful and intuitive. 

Southernhay House nears completion

     My purgatorial status is soon to end with proximity to Kingpin, (and Donny Innocente) a factor in the decision.  One door closes, another opens.  Next month I take up the reins as head of the exciting new Southernhay House, just round the corner from the old dame.
     I am sure that once the dust settles a natural and beneficial cross pollination of ideas will germinate between the iconic Burgh Island of which Tim is now head, and the Exeter venture.

Here are the bare bones of this old Hotel B favorite...we can't give away all our secrets!

Ingredients for 2

300gm rhubarb (2cm dice)
120gm caster sugar
5tbsp milk
5tbsp cream
3tbsp soft flour
1.5tbsp unsalted butter
1.5tbsp brown sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 vanilla pod


For the rhubarb compote:
1)Place the rhubarb on a baking tray and sprinkle with 110gm caster sugar.
2)Put in an oven pre-heated to 160 degrees Celsius.
3)Cook for 20-30 min or until tender.
4)Remove from the oven and place in a sieve or conical strainer to drain the excess juice.  Reserve this juice for breakfast yogurts!

For the crumble topping:
1)Place the flour and butter in a freezer for 30 min.
2)Using a food processor, mix the flour and butter to a breadcrumb consistency.
3)Add the brown sugar to the food processor and mix well to the butter and flour.
4)Place the mixture on a baking tray and cook until golden in a 220 oven.
5)Break up the crumble topping with a whisk and allow to cool.
Refrigerate indefinitely and use as necessary.

For the creme Anglaise:
1)Combine the vanilla, cream and milk in a pan and bring to the boil.  
2)In a metal bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining caster sugar.
3)Pour the hot, vanilla infused milk and cream over the egg yolks, whisk well and return to the pan.
4)Cook the Anglaise out gently over a low heat until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  If you have a temp probe, 69-75 degrees Celsius is ideal.
5)Pour the mixture through a fine sieve into a metal bowl over ice and stir continuously until chilled.  Use immediately or refrigerate for up to three days.

     Early season forced rhubarb is really an incredible thing.  Hidden away in the dark, these first stalks are the sweetest and best for colour.  Towards the end of the season you may find yourself needing to use more sugar and possibly a drop of Grenadine in the mix to keep up the vibrant hue.  Rhubarb flourishes in cold ground and is perfect for late winter early spring Britain.  Originally from Asia, it is actually a vegetable but a US Customs Court ruled in 1947 that it is a fruit, since that is how the plant is normally eaten.  My earliest memories of rhubarb are of my Grandma giving me a couple stalks with a small bowl of sugar to dip.

     Creme Anglaise is literally, 'English Cream'.  Although the Brits usually stick to dubious and day-glo 'Bird's' powdered custard.  Maybe it was an ironically named French jab at 'Le Rosbif'.  Simply, creme Anglaise is a pouring consistency custard used as a sauce for desserts.  The higher you take the temperature whilst cooking, the thicker the custard.  Make this once and you will say goodbye to that sickly yellow, corn flour packed pap.

'Never rub another man's rhubarb'
-The Joker

Note: Apparently one of these rhubarb pics is property of ChefHermes.com

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