This past year I grew tomatoes, aubergines and peppers only to find myself harvesting one pathetic cherry tomato! Not even a bunch, just the one!!! So I have to hand it to my father when he showed me his vegetable garden. The deal is my mum does the flowers (and the sculptures), and my dad does the veg. Of course they both battle to find enough time to stay on top of the garden but as it seems to be an English national obsession it is permanently at the top of the ”to do” list!
He has courgettes, (I made a courgette quiche the other day), tomatoes, beetroot, beans, lettuce, leeks and of course rhubarb which just seems to grow itself and has lived in the same corner of the garden since I can remember! I was informed that the rhubarb needed using up! Growing your own means that you not only have a constant stream of fresh and therefore delicious vegetables but it also forces you to make dishes that you probably wouldn’t make everyday.
As my brother and his family were coming over for Sunday lunch I decided to use the rhubarb in an adaptation of the very traditional English summer dessert, Eton mess. Eton mess is a dish of strawberries, cream and meringue mixed together and has been around since the early 19th century and was traditionally served at the annual cricket match between Eton college and Winchester college. The great thing about it is it’s so quick, easy and tasty. (if you like creamy desserts)
1. Peel the rhubarb to get rid of the stringy bits.
2. Chop into chunks and put in a pan with sugar and cinnamon.
3. Simmer until soft and leave to cool.
4.Whip some double cream and add sugar to taste. Mix in the rhubarb compote.
5. Before serving fold in the crushed meringue. If this is done too early the meringue will dissolve and the texture will be lost.
6. Serve chilled in individual bowls or glasses.
Styling tip: Glupey food should be served in smaller containers or dishes so it looks more attractive!
Now, rhubarb is an acquired taste due to its tartness. So I was not at all surprised when, after their first mouthfuls, I got a unanimous, ”I don’t like it!!!!!!” from my two little nieces. Luckily I had some mini magnums as back-up!