Saturday, May 14, 2011

Foolhardy


Well. My attempt at blanching rhubarb was a bit of a bust. I guess I just don't have the right variety of rhubarb for blanching. Just in case you were wondering about my fascination with blanched rhubarb, here's the story: blanching (growing in an environment devoid of light) plants inhibits the formation of chlorophyll, whereby allowing underlying pigments to shine through; also, the missing green pigment sometimes results in a milder flavour. In the case of endives, the green leaves give way to creamy ribs and pale yellow frills. Cauliflowers turn into those pale curds we are all so familiar with. And the right kind of rhubarb turns into a vibrant, almost neon, pinky-red.


Unfortunately, the anonymous rhubarb I had dug out of a friend's garden eons ago is not as intensely pigmented as I had hoped. It is also possible that the garbage bin I used was letting in a little light, because blanched rhubarb usually has hungry-looking yellow leaves. No matter, it will taste scrumptious all the same in a fool. For those of you who are unfamiliar with fools as foodstuff, you are in for a treat!


The fool is a mainstay in the extensive English repertoire of spring/summer puddings ('dessert' in Brit speak). Say what you want about British food (all mostly false and misguided, really: British food has come a loooong way), their sweets are untouchable! They really know how to snare a sweet tooth, and reel 'em in! Spring and summer puddings are the epitome of delightful simplicity: take a seasonal fruit, add a bit of sugar, some cream, and voilà! Your hankering for sugar is fulfilled.

Last year, Tara at Seven Spoons wrote about this rhubarb syrup, and I wrote about roasted rhubarb. Both are a good starting point for a luscious rhubarb fool. If you choose to go the syrup route, just cook the rhubarb until it starts to fall apart once you've strained off the juice.


 

Rhubarb Fool
Serves 4

500g/ 1lb rhubarb, cooked, smashed and chilled
250ml/ 1 cup heavy cream

Whip cream to soft peak stage.
Gently fold in rhubarb.
Chill for at least one hour, or until ready to serve.

Rhubarb fools are beautiful when served in glassware, but would be just as lovely plopped into a bowl to be scooped out with a biscuit. You can also serve this billowy cloud of a dessert atop a meringue, in pavlova fashion, or as a side way wink to the Eton Mess. As the season moves along, switch up the fruits for variety. If using berries, you won't even need to cook them: just crush with a bit of sugar, and add to the whipped cream. This dessert is so easy to make that you can whip it up in a flash if ever you have unexpected guests for dinner. You can even freeze fools to make a lush ice-cream-like treat: if you can manage to stretch out dinner over an hour or so, it'll even be set enough to surprise the aforementioned unexpected guests...




Bon app'!



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