Tag Archive for syrup

The Year of Rhubarb

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Or maybe it’ll be “A Year In Rhubarb”, given the voracity with which I am acquiring stalks for the kitchen. I can’t help it: there are so many plump juicy stems for sale… I have to make up for years of deprivation, you know: there was no rhubarb growing on the tropical island where I spent my childhood.

I am hearing from growers that this year’s wet cool spring has done wonder for rhubarb. Unfortunately, the cool spring is ending this week as we not-so-gently steam and wilt with the thermometer reaching 90 degrees  ( 32 C). The wet part is still on though with copious rain showers every day – rather tropical, really. What that will do for rhubarb is anybody’s guess, but I am furiously buying rhubarb. Close to 30 pounds to date, and few weeks to go still…

It’s been fun. I’ve made ice-cream (several batches and settled on proportions I like), sorbet, syrup, cordial, compote, tartelettes, fresh strawberry & ginger rhubarb tart, jam (some with elder blossom cordial, some with vanilla bean and some with fresh ginger root), rhubarb strudel (or was that baklava?) as well as fresh rhubarb chutney (delicious with a rack of lamb). And frozen a bunch, should I suddenly have a craving for rhubarb. It could happen.

It’s about time I share some recipes… so… on today’s episode we’ll learn to cook rhubarb once and make no less than 4 dishes! We’ll delve into the secret lives of rhubarb (oh… wait… we did that already!). Oh, well, then we’ll … learn how to coax the juice  from those stalks without turning them into mush and we’ll make first a  happy rosy syrup, and then a sweet and even happier little cordial. Read more

Elder Blossom Lemonade

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A plant of our hedgerows and abandoned fields that are being reconquered by the forest, the elder favors the sides of ditches and embankments – especially those with a bit of shade. Oh, it grows well enough in full sun, but it seems to appreciate the extra moisture that accumulates in ditches.

Elder is a plant of the edge – maybe a plant ON the edge – making do with full sun or part shade – unable to decide whether it wants to really be in the meadow. Because of its widespread natural habitat, Sambucus (the botanical name for the genus) plays a role in many folklores: Scandinavians, Mediterraneans, North American Indians all had legends of the Elder … giving rises to conflicting stories of goodness and evil, stories that bellies its sun/shade qualities. At the edge, neither sun nor shade, neither evil nor saintly.

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Even its name – both the common and the botanical name in fact – harks back to old times. Read more