I know I should be patient and wait for our rhubarb to be ready to pick, but we've got a good couple of weeks before we can touch it and we couldn't pick so much as one stem last year, as the plants were still babies. Drew has been very patient and Hampshire rhubarb is on sale at Waitrose right now for something like £1.30 a bunch, so I snapped some up. I had the idea to do a jelly instead of a crumble or pie and I wanted to make a stem ginger ice cream to serve with it. It turns out, my idea was a good one and what we had was a zingy, refreshing dessert that was just right for this time of year.
I went charity shop hopping yesterday and found a couple of pretty, old jelly moulds for a few quid, so I was very excited about that. I made the rhubarb compote first and refrigerated it for use in a couple of ways, including as an accompaniment to some creme brulees I made the other day, but you could make it right before making the jelly and it would work just as well, it would just take a little longer to set. You will not need all of the compote you make, but you can always keep it in the fridge or freeze it for future use.
This is a great dinner party dish because besides plating, it can all be done the day before, but it's very pretty and has lovely layers of flavour.
Rhubarb Jelly and Stem Ginger Ice Cream
Serves 8, takes approx 45 minutes plus chilling time
For the jelly:
500g (1 lb) stalks rhubarb, cut into 1" chunks
8 tbsp golden caster sugar
2 tbsp water
2 sachets powdered gelatine
100ml white wine
300ml boiling water
100ml rhubarb cordial (optional)
2- 500ml (1 pint) jelly moulds or 8 individual ones*
In a non-stick or stainless steel saucepan, sprinkle the rhubarb chunks with half of the sugar and the 2 tbsp of water. Stir gently and heat gradually over a low-medium heat. Cover the pan and let the rhubarb cook gently and undisturbed for about 5 minutes, checking with the back of a knife to check that the rhubarb is done. You want it to be very tender but not mushy. Turn off the heat and leave uncovered until you're ready to use it.
Tip the gelatine and remaining sugar into a heat-proof measuring jug and pour over the 300 ml of the boiling water and stir well to dissolve. If the gelatine isn't dissolving completely, pop the just into a small pan of barely simmering water and stir for a few minutes until completely clear.
Add the rhubarb cordial (if using. If not, add 100ml more water) and the white wine and stir into 500ml of the rhubarb compote in a bowl. Taste the mixture for sweetness, adding more sugar if necessary, but be careful not to make it too sweet.
Spoon the mixture into the jelly moulds and refrigerate until set firm. Depending on whether you started out with warm or cold compote, this could take up to 5 hours.
To serve the jelly, dip the moulds in a bowl full of boiling water for a few seconds before turning out onto a plate. It should be firm enough that when you cut a wedge, it should just about stand up.
For the ice cream:
2 large, free-range eggs
1 free range egg yolk
400ml double cream (heavy whipping cream)
200 ml whole milk
3/4 cup golden caster sugar
syrup from a jar of stem ginger
3 large knobs of stem ginger, one finely grated, two diced about 4mm(3/16")
Beat the eggs, egg yolk and sugar together well, until very pale and fluffy.
Drizzle in the ginger syrup while the machine is still running, then the cream and milk on a lower speed.
Pour the mixture into the canister of your ice cream machine and churn until 99% set (about half an hour, follow the manufacturer's instructions)
When the mixture is almost there, add in the grated ginger and churn for a further minute or two, then add the chopped ginger and give it one more minute.
Scrape into a clean, airtight container and allow to finish setting in the freezer for an hour or so.
Turn the jelly out onto a plate and cut carefully with a knife dipped in hot water.
Scoop (or if you're fancy, make a quenelle) your ice cream onto small plates and garnish with extra long langue du chat cookies or vanilla tuille cookies.
And I will sit and eat mine while I'm waiting for my lovely red veggie to grow....
Any day now, any day.
*If you you don't have jelly moulds, you could just as easily make the jelly in pretty glasses and put the scoop of ice cream on top.