People have been commenting about my new look and because I’m sure they think I’m responsible for it, I’m going to start by setting the record straight. Recently I decided to mix things up around here. I liked my old banner and look of my blog but wanted to feature pictures in a larger format. I also found it too cluttered with widgets that didn’t have much purpose and took away from the elegant simplicity I was striving for. I’m not a technically-minded person at all, so it is the irony of my life that I am studying digital photography and set this blog up in the first place. I’m a firm believer that we we can learn to do whatever it is that we want, though it might take us longer than someone who has a natural ability in the area. Motivation is really the key. The thing is, I wasn’t very motivated at all to learn code or figure out why my social media buttons weren’t working, or how to upload a banner into the Thesis theme. My free time is precious and I’d rather spend it writing or shooting and editing pictures, or being social with friends and family. Which is why I hired a website designer to help me with all of these things and more. I’d wanted to do this for some time but couldn’t find anyone I could afford until a colleague recommended this guy. He met with me and we went over all the things that I wanted to change and made suggestions of his own. Two days later it was done and I’m more than happy with the results. The blog is functioning properly, it looks better, and I know know how to do what I didn’t know how to do before ie: upload thumbnails into previous posts. His price was more than reasonable, and when I finish compiling images for my portfolio I’m going to hire him to design my website. Hopefully that will be at the end of this year, so stay tuned.
Now. On to fruit. My latest culinary dalliances have featured fruit in unexpected ways–at least unexpected for me. Stewing and poaching has become my thing and I’ve been gorging on rhubarb and figs and pears and apples, all fruits that taste better cooked in a bit of syrup and spices. Okay, rhubarb is technically not a fruit but it’s usually eaten in combination with fruit and I have yet to see it alongside a steak and potato. So let’s call it a fruit.
We used to have a rhubarb plant in our garden when I was growing up, and my mom made some some fabulous cobblers and jams with it. Since leaving home, though, I’d mostly forgotten about rhubarb until I came across a recipe for poached rhubarb in Gordon Ramsey’s book Cooking for Friends. I’m a fan of Gordon, despite his shouting and pan flinging, but I picked up the book because the photos are shot by Ditte Isager, one of my all time favourite photographers.
Gordon’s recipe is for poached rhubarb with ginger ice cream. I don’t have an ice cream maker; if I did I’d probably weight three hundred pounds because ice cream is all I would eat. Instead, I mixed crème fraîche with sugar, ginger, and ground chestnuts to make a similarly rich and creamy topping that balances out the tartness of the rhubarb. Of course, you can eat it with ice cream if crème fraîche is difficult for you to find, or even with Greek yogurt–which makes it not only a great dessert but also the Breakfast of Champions!
Stewed Rhubarb and Figs with Chestnut Ginger Cream
Poached rhubarb and figs:
6 figs, cut in half with stems removed
25og demerara sugar
1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
1 cinnamon stick
Chestnut Ginger Cream:
100ml crème fraîche
50g chestnuts, ground
1 tablespoon demerara sugar
10g fresh ginger, finely grated
1) Trim the tops and ends of the rhubarb and cut into lengths of about 2 inches/5cm. Put the sugar, water, vanilla pod and seeds in a saucepan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat up slightly and simmer for a few minutes, until the syrup has thickened slightly. Immerse the rhubarb and figs and poach until the rhubarb is just tender but still holding shape. Remove rhubarb and figs with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl.
2) Boil the syrup for about 10 minutes, until reduced into a syrupy sauce. Remove vanilla pod and cinnamon stick and pour sauce over rhubarb and figs. Leave to cool completely and then chill in the fridge.
3) Grind the chestnuts in a chopper or food processor. Put crème fraîche in a small bowl and sprinkle with the chestnuts and tablespoon of sugar. Gently fold in ginger. When ready to serve, top rhubarb with chestnut ginger cream. The rhubarb can be kept in the fridge for up to a week before serving. Extra ground chestnuts can be used as a garnish.