Sunday, 29 January 2012

Rhubarb and Custard with Blood Orange Sauce

Rhubarb makes a wonderful crumble and a devilishly good fool. Its astringency can cut through the most fatty of foods and its delicate colour is about the only thing around at the moment that isn't green or brown. It's also citrus season with Satsuma's, tangerines and blood oranges galore. It seems a shame to eat all the members of the orange family just for their cold preventing benefits.
I was one of those children who would pick out the sourest, most mouth puckering and sharpest of sweets. Sherbert wasn't quite tart enough for me and so rhubarb and custard sweets were my saviour when all the sour apple ones had gone. They soon became my favourite; when you were turning the sweet over in your mouth you never knew if you were going to get a burst of sour or a shot of sweet. Although I do enjoy one of these sweets occasionally I have moved on to a more grown up version.
This is the very first of the English forced rhubarb I could get my hands on. It was nestled amongst a load of potatoes, swedes and cabbages; poking its pink feet out asking to be picked up. Admittedly my first thought was crumble but on my travels I walked past a sweet shop and my thoughts turned to rhubarb and custard.
I had a couple of blood oranges knocking about at home and I thought they would add a sumptuous citrus note to the rhubarb. Because I bought the rhubarb so early in the season it was pretty pricey but luckily two stems works out to be about the perfect amount for two. I only needed one blood orange because they gave a lot of juice. I have to confess I bought some fresh custard for this, I think it's pretty good if you want an easy pudding like I did.
Start by chopping the rhubarb into roughly inch sized pieces. Put these into a pan with a little water and some sugar. Put the heat on low. While the rhubarb starts cooking, add a little orange zest and then squeeze in the juice of the blood orange. The rhubarb doesn't take long to cook so watch it doesn't turn to a mush. 
Remove the rhubarb and put to one side. Turn the heat up to reduce the liquid left in the pan. Check the sauce for sweetness but remember you don't want it too sweet, that's what the custard is for. Put some custard in a bowl and pile on the rhubarb before pouring over the sauce.
For something this easy you couldn't ask for more. Simplicity at its absolute best. Creamy, sweet custard with a hint of vanilla; sharp, intense flavour and soft textures of rhubarb; citrus, tang and a slight syrupy quality to the sauce. You decide the level of each flavour with every spoon. It's almost a method of transport back to simpler times. 
I haven't made or eaten anything this colour since summer. A blushing bowl of pure pleasure that lets you know spring is just round the corner.

15 comments:

  1. Wow this is lovely! I will add it to my list. Thanks for sharing

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  2. Looks great! Nice presentation too!

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  3. This is beautiful and I can't believe you can get rhubarb now! Isn't it funny how colors of food seem predominantly grouped in specific season? I appreciate you being so aware of your food you'd note the absence of this color in your diet. I cannot figure out what is in the glass of the first photo? It's beautiful and I wondered if you froze some of this in layers. Would love to know!

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  4. This looks delicious, beautiful recipe. I used blood orange in a cake recipe (to be posted later) and love the flavor, a little more tang than standard oranges. Great post!

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  5. This sounds incredible! I love the simplicity of it, but the complexity of flavors is amazing =)

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  6. Gorgeous, bright, inspired dessert.

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  7. How lovely and truly British! Anything with rhubarb wins my vote. Do you make your own custard or use store bought?

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  8. It definitely sounds amazing! Your description of the dish really caught me :) Rhubarb is something I have no knowledge about, I have to try it!

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  9. I've seen so many great recipes recently using blood oranges...this one looks really good...yum!

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  10. I have to agree with you that with simplicity out came a wonderful dessert. I am not sure on rhubard but blood orange I suppose it I look out for it can be found.

    I have this love for sweet and sour combination and sure will dig into this lovely dessert you have made.

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  11. What a lovely post, and so pretty! And yes please... bring on the spring. Anthony :)

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  12. I am in love with blood oranges right now! This is so lovely! :D

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  13. This looks amazing and just at the sound of it, my mouth is puckering, too. I also loved these tart sweets - remember soor plooms? Now you've got me on the hunt for rhubarb - too good!

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  14. This looks delicious! I'm embarrassed to say last summer was the first time I'd ever tasted rhubarb! I just loved it and ate it (probably more than my weight) throughout the entire summer!

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