Spiced rhubarb and lemon sorbet with cinnamon cookies


rhubarb and lemon sorbet

“Rhubarb. Rhubarb. Rhubarb.”

“Rhubarb. Rhubarb. Rhu-barb!” 

“Rhubarb?”

“Rhubarb!”

Back in the day, when I was a young thespian-type, this is the noise you’d hear coming from all us extras on stage attempting to emulate the murmur of chit-chat. And it’s exactly how Twitter and the wider blogosphere sound right now. Yes, it’s rhubarb season and recipes and conversations about rhubarb abound. Oh, and of course, there are quite a few mentions of

“Asparagus?”

and the occasional

“Wild garlic….”

and perhaps a slightly hopeful

“Strawwwwwwwberry!”

I’m partly to blame of course for the fascination in all things rhubarb, as this tart and tasty perennial is one of the three set ingredients for May’s Recipes for Life challenge I’m hosting, together with lemon and spice. We’ve already seen some delicious rhubarb recipes entered, from ice cream and fools to scones and muffins – you can take a look at all the entries submitted so far here.

This fragrantly spicy rhubarb and lemon sorbet is my second entry. It’s incredibly simple and absolutely delicious, and so ideal for Recipes for Life, as we’re trying to come up with a selection of easy recipes for SWALLOW members, all adults with learning difficulties, to prepare during their cookery lessons and ultimately to feature in a charity cookbook.

cinnamon oat cookie

I served my sorbet with an oaty sultana and cinnamon cookie on the side; a perfectly crunchy, slightly chewy biscuit with which to scoop up your sorbet.

rhubarb lemon sorbet

Spiced rhubarb and lemon sorbet

250g rhubarb, washed and trimmed and cut into 5cm chunks
110g caster sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ a lemon
75ml water
1 star anise
Half a cinnamon stick

Place the rhubarb, caster sugar, lemon zest and juice, water and spices in a saucepan and cook over a gentle heat for around 10 to 15 minutes until soft.

Leave to cool. Remove the star anise and cinnamon stick, and then blend the rhubarb in a liquidizer until smooth.

Pour into in an air-tight container and place in the freezer. Give it a good stir every hour or so to prevent ice crystals forming. Keep doing this until the sorbet is set, which will take around four hours. If you have an ice cream maker, which I don’t – sadly – then I guess it’s even easier and you can leave it to churn itself.

Serve your sorbet with an oat cookie on the side…

Cinnamon oat cookies

125g butter
200g caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
150g rolled oats
125g plain flour
Pinch of salt
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
75g sultanas

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Grease and line two baking trays with baking parchment.

Put the butter in a large saucepan and melt over a low heat. Remove from the heat, add the sugar and combine well.

Add the beaten egg and mix it in. Next add the oats, flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and sultanas and mix it all together thoroughly.

Use a tablespoon to spoon the cookie mixture onto the baking trays, making sure they are spaced out well. Squish the mixture flat with your fingers.

Bake the cookies in the oven for around 15 minutes until golden. Leave to cool for a few minutes on the tray before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Stored in an air-tight, they’ll keep for up to five days. As if they’ll get the chance!

rhubarb lemon sorbet

I’m entering this sorbet into May’s Recipes for Life challenge, as well as Ren Behan’s wonderful Simple and in Season community blog event, where I think you may find a fair few rhubarb recipes this month!

recipes for life

SimpleinSeason

Apple porridge

I often feel a bit of a hypocrite in the mornings as I make my daughters their porridge for breakfast. I’ve never been able to eat the stuff you see.

I love the idea of it; a big steaming bowl of hot porridge sounds the ideal way to set you up on a chilly day. And it’s just so good for you. You digest porridge slowly, so it fills you up for longer. High in fibre, oats are proven to prevent heart disease, lower cholesterol and boost serotonin.

My problem is the hot milk. I’m not good with hot, milky things and have never been able eat rice pudding or semolina. Even with hot chocolate I have to be in just the right mood, and it must be really good quality chocolate to distract me from the milk. And if there’s any skin on top – urrrgghh!

Lots of people have suggested ditching the milk and making porridge with water instead. But that’s always sounded rather mean and stingy to me. Then I came across an item in Runners World (can’t believe I mentioning that particular publication again!) which suggested using apple juice. Why had I never thought of that myself?

Porridge made with apple juice is my new favourite breakfast. It’s absolutely delicious and I feel just so virtuous eating it. I add currants, giving it a lovely crunchy fruitiness and mix in a little cinnamon, which of course goes so well with apple. Then I serve it with a decent dollop of yoghurt and a squeeze of runny honey. Perfect! The children like it too. But my husband’s a traditionalist and is sticking with his milk.

Apple porridge

Makes one large bowl

4og porridge oats
200ml apple juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Handful of currants
2 tbsp natural yoghurt
Honey

I don’t have that much time in the mornings, so I make my porridge in the microwave. Simply put the oats, juice, cinnamon and currants into a microwaveable bowl, give it a good mix and place in the microwave. Cook on medium power for a couple of minutes and then stir. Cook again for another two, maybe two and a half minutes, until you’ve got the porridgy consistency you’re after. I like mine pretty thick. Serve with a generous spoonful of yoghurt and lots of lovely honey. Yum!

Spiced orange bread and butter pudding

Here’s my slightly seasonal take on the humble but very delicious bread and butter pudding. What could be a more festive combination than oranges and spices? The orange in this pud comes in the form of marmalade and zest, while the spices are ginger, cinnamon and mixed spice.

I wish I could share with you fond memories of eating this as a child but, to be honest, the first time I ate bread and butter pudding was only a few years ago when I tried Nigella Lawson’s ginger-jam version from her Nigella Bites cookery book. It was a pudding that never really appealed to me when I was younger. It sounds, well, a bit boring really. I mean, bread? In a pudding? And butter. Who’s going to get excited about that?

But oh! Now I’ve tried it, I can safely say it is delicious and now one of my favourites. Crunchy and slightly chewy on top, soft and gooey underneath. It might not have been one of my nursery food memories, but it will be one of my children’s. Plus it’s so simple to make and comes with its own ready-made custard. What’s not to like?

This recipe is loosely based on the one in Nigella Bites.

Spiced orange bread and butter pudding

75g butter
75g sultanas
3 tbsp apple juice
1 tsp ground ginger
10 slices thick white bread
half a jar of orange marmalade
4 egg yolks
1 egg
5 tbsp demerara sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
500ml double cream
200ml milk
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp runny honey

Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5.

Grease a medium-sized pudding dish with some of the butter.

Put the sultanas in a small bowl and mix with the apple juice and ginger. Pop in the microwave and heat on medium power for a minute and then leave to stand. This is Nigella’s trick for plumping up the sultanas. She uses rum but I didn’t think the kids would be too keen on that.

Make up sandwiches with the white bread, spreading the butter and marmalade generously. Cut in quarters into triangles and then arrange in your dish, some pointing up and some pointing downwards. Sprinkle over the sultanas and pour over any remaining gingery apple juice.

Lightly whisk the egg yolks and egg in small bowl and mix in 3 tablespoons of the demerara sugar and mixed spice. Then add the cream and milk and combine. Pour over the marmalade sandwiches and leave for 10 minutes or so to give the custard a chance to soak into the bread.

Dot some butter onto the visible bread. Mix the ground cinnamon with 2 tablespoons of demerara sugar and sprinkle over the top. Finally drizzle the honey over the top too.

Place the dish on a baking tray and cook in the oven for around half an hour until the custard has set and the crusts poking out are browned and caramelised. Leave for 10 minutes before serving. It will be agony waiting that long as it smells so good!