Moderation is a quality I do not possess. I am embarrassed to admit how many shampoo varieties currently clutter my shower ledge, the number of cookbooks added to my collection in the past six months, and the essential grains and condiments stuffed in my larder. And none of this even comes close to the contents of my "emergency" chocolate box.
Does anyone ever have just one piece of chocolate? Really? I often need to forcibly remove myself from the room and sometimes from the house to resist the temptation.
The Sunday morning farmer's market ritual, is another example of my conspicuous consumerism in all its glory. Do I need 8 fennel bulbs? A whole tray of eggs? All those apples? I think you get the picture.*
So when forced rhubarb appeared on the stalls in Queens Park last month, I stashed as much as I possibly could into my trolley. Note: I am the only family member who actually likes rhubarb.
I swiftly returned home and started cooking with my bounty, baking it in apple crumble and rhubarb bars. But best of all, I roasted it in large baking dishes, eating it all week long. Spices mixed with orange and sweetened with honey made it the perfect condiment on grilled mackerel, on vanilla ice cream and spooned onto plain yoghurt topped with a little granola for breakfast.**
And yes, I happlily ate more than one portion at a time (and most straight out of the baking dish).
Adapted from Nigel Slater Tender Volume II
500g (1lb 2oz) rhubarb, leaves discarded
3 tbsp honey
1 unwaxed orange
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract (Nigel does not use it, but I love vanilla in everything)
Preheat oven to 170C (325F)
Cut rhubarb into long lengths (approx. 8 cm/ 3 inches) and place in a baking dish so that they fit in one layer
Grate orange zest, and cut in half squeezing the juice over the rhubarb
Mix in honey, cinnamon, star anise and vanilla and stir together
Cover with foil (or a lid) and bake for 20-30 minutes checking regularly after 20 minutes so that you do not overcook it. The rhubarb should keep its shape but remain soft
*Fear not. While I may be totally incapable of buying food in moderation, I am virtually obsessive about not wasting food, and by the end of the week I get very creative with the dregs of the weeks purchases left in the fridge.
**For anyone looking for a little Passover inspiration, this is a great breakfast solution with chopped roasted nuts.