I seem to have lost my cooking mojo recently. It’s not helped by the fact that we have an ill-designed kitchen, lacking in both storage and work space. We make the best of it that we can, but rather than be a haven – like some kitchens are, it can quite easily descend into a hellish place, a cauldron of irritation leading all too quickly to stress. So I thought the best way to ease myself back into some cooking would be to do something simple with something beautiful, and luckily, I had just the thing. Brightening up a corner of the worktop for the past couple of days have been a few lengths of vibrant, rosy coloured forced rhubarb – a truly joyous sight. You can make the most of it by cutting it into finger length pieces and roasting it with sugar and a little flavouring, which melts down along with the fruit’s juices into a pink syrup. Vanilla is a typical addition, but here I’ve gone instead for a subtle hint of citrus and the merest whisper of ginger, which infuse the syrup with a perfumed flavour but don’t come anywhere close to overpowering the distinctive bitter-sweet taste of the rhubarb. Once roasted, the pieces will retain their shape and texture on the outside, but be perfectly soft and yielding in the centre. Wonderful!
350g rhubarb, rinsed and cut into lengths of about 5cm
50g Demerara sugar
Zest and juice of 1 clementine
10g crystallised ginger, chopped into tiny pieces
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Place the rhubarb pieces in a baking dish large enough to accommodate them in a single layer. Sprinkle over the clementine zest and juice, followed by the ginger and sugar.
Cover the dish with foil, then roast in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes. After this time, baste the rhubarb in the syrupy juices, before returning to the oven for another 5-10 minutes, until the pieces are soft when a knife is inserted into them but not yet mushy.