- Food & Drink
It snowed a little last night. Not a lot. Just enough to edge the roofs and walls with white, and puddle in ashy heaps in garden corners. By mid-morning it was all gone. The grey wool sky stayed dry and what sun made it through the clouds melted the snow. A cold, unmagical day that turned my mind to practical things. So I sorted the freezer.
Our freezer is a seemingly infinite space where things I bought but ran out of time to eat, or bought with no idea how to eat, are kept waiting. It should feel thrifty, but in reality the freezer is full of guilty buys. Wonton wrappers, curry leaves, minced meats of all kinds, an obligatory bag of peas – things bought with good intentions that have been abandoned to the future.
Emptying out the wire basket drawers I found things I’d forgotten about, including a bag of pink forced rhubarb. I must have frozen it, trimmed and chopped, last January or February, when dusky boxes of it came down from Yorkshire. Now this year’s harvest is arriving in the shops and I still have the last of 2015’s crop shrouded in a plastic bag.
I’d seen a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe for rhubarb and juniper cake in The Guardian. The combination struck me as just right: the chill pine forest flavour of juniper with the wintry tartness of forced rhubarb. I defrosted my bag of rhubarb and tipped the soft, wet mulch into a pan with juniper and sugar. Cooked into pale pink skeins, it was good spooned over bowls of milky basmati rice.
Quick Rice Pudding with Rhubarb & Juniper Compote
For the rice pudding:
120g white basmati rice
400ml whole milk
30g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the rhubarb & juniper compote:
200g trimmed and chopped forced rhubarb
30g caster sugar
6 juniper berries
1 tbsp water
A few spoonfuls of double cream, to serve
1 Tip the rice into a bowl and cover with cold water. Whisk for a few minutes till the water is cloudy with starch, then drain and rinse. Tip into a small pan. Pour in the milk and add the sugar and vanilla with a pinch of salt. Give it a stir, cover and bring to a simmer – stir now and then to make sure it doesn’t stick. Turn the heat down low and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 mins till the rice is tender. Stir now and then.
2 While the rice simmers, make the rhubarb compote. Put the rhubarb and caster sugar in a pan with the water. Crush the juniper berries and add to the pan. Cover, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 5 mins till the rhubarb is soft and thready. Take off the heat and set aside with the lid on to keep warm.
3 Spoon the rice into warm bowls. Add a spoonful or two of double cream to each bowl. Top with the warm rhubarb compote and serve.