Sunday, April 11, 2010

Real Irish Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble

I eventually managed to get my hands on some rhubarb after more than two weeks of searching the shops and markets of Dublin.  Finally I spotted a small lonely bunch in a shop this evening - clearly everyone had been looking for, and found, rhubarb before me. I will not complain - off I cycled with my bunch which amounted to approximately 220 grams of useable fruit, just enough for a warming dessert for two.

When I got it home and had a look, it really was not going to amount to much on its own so I combined it with some strawberries and made the most delicious tasting crumble.

I am not much of a dessert person and do opt for the cheese plate before I would choose a sweet dessert.  My husband, on the other hand, was brought up on a combination of crumbles, apple tarts and homemade jam - his mother used to hand-make thousands of pots of jam in her own kitchen every year to sell in the family shop ... each pie, tart and jam pot made with mostly hand-picked wild fruit from local hedgerows.  So really, even when I attempt  something as easy as a crumble, it still passes through my mind that it will not be as good as Cork grannies!

However, there seems to have been a little break-through this evening, when, after eating the crumble, my husband announced that it was both 'delicious' and 'excellent'....two words of praise I often find difficult to encourage out of this one childhood memory pocket of his.  So vast and accomplished is his criticism of all things sweet, that  I think he has a folder in his brain's memory store entitled 'desserts, summer crumbles and other stewed fruits' ...

For two individual 'excellent' and 'delicious' crumbles, I used :

220 g rhubarb, chopped
100g strawberries, sliced
1 vanilla pod, spilt and seeds scraped out.  Add pod and seeds to the fruit.
30g caster sugar
1 tblsp water

Add all the ingredients to the saucepan with the water.  Put the lid on and stew slowly for 10 minutes until the fruit is soft and delicious.

While the fruit is cooling, make the crumble topping - you will need :

80g plain flour
40g unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
20g porridge oats
30g light brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
In a large bowl add the flour and cinnamon and cubed butter.  Using your fingertips rub the cold butter into the flour until it becomes like breadcrumbs.  Leave some larger pieces of butter as this will make the topping crunchy.  Add the porridge oats and sugar and mix it up.

Place the rhubarb in individual ramekins and place a thick layer of crumble on top.  Place on a baking sheet (or something to catch the drips if it bubbles over) and place in the oven for 15 minutes until the top is golden and sizzling.

Serve warm with ice cream.  We had no ice cream this evening but my 'fruit-crumble-expert' husband insisted that it must be eaten with ice cream.  Our local shop did not have vanilla which I think would have been perfect, but instead he came back with Strawberry Cheesecake flavour - apparently it was the best accompaniment ever, much better than vanilla.  I am proposing that you either add the ice cream of your choice or none at all - the crumble is so good, for me it stands alone on the plate.

The recipe listed above makes enough for two ramekins.  For a larger crumble, you can make this in an individual pie dish with as much fruit as you like and the crumble ingredients doubled.

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