Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb

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Photography by Annie Peel

Rhubarb is completely non-indigenous to Ibiza but sometimes you just gotta think ‘who cares?’ and get on and enjoy. Not all the time. But sometimes.

I was in a fruit shack the other day, the one on the left hand side as you are coming from Ibiza towards Santa Eulalia, and it was there that I spied some rhubarb. I have come across it here very occasionally, but it has always been limp and closer to grey than the glorious reddish pink it should be. And it was this glorious reddish pink that caught my eye on Saturday.

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Photography by Annie Peel

The thin, long sticks were lying in boxes distinctly out of place among a section of exotic fruits that, after their long travels, were looking very much worse for wear. Funny to think that rhubarb should be considered exotic. There was nothing exotic about it when served up in my junior school refectory along with thick, lumpy, tinned custard!

Anyway there it was, languishing among the exotica and I just had to buy me some. I needed crumble. Now, rhubarb has become reasonably trendy recently, turning up in savoury dishes in many swanky restaurants, but this is not for me. No, crumble is for me. Crumble and cream. Hot or cold. ‘Crumble and cream!!!!!!!!’ Sounds like a rallying battle cry, don’t it? It certainly gets my blood going.

I have found one of the problems that can arise with rhubarb crumble is too much liquid, so to avoid this I cooked the rhubarb in some sugar and lemon zest first. When it softens it lets out loads of liquid. The resulting liquid is precious: It should be strained, poured over ice, topped up with high quality gin and enjoyed. If you use a gin such as Bombay Sapphire you will find that the aromatics used in its production enhance your enjoyment.

Now of course the crust for the crumble is of the utmost importance. After years of believing that using anything but butter, white flour and white sugar in the crumble mix was a crime, I have mellowed. No longer do I think that people should be jailed for adding nuts, brown sugar even a little integral flour. Having said that the recipe below is for the traditional one:

Rhubarb Crumble
For the fruit:

600g rhubarb
250g sugar
Lemon peel
Gin

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Photography by Annie Peel

For the crumble:
300g flour
150g sugar
150g butter

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Photography by Annie Peel

Method:
Put the oven on at 140ºC.

Gently heat the rhubarb with the sugar and lemon zest until the fruit softens. Strain off the liquid and drink with gin whilst making the crumble mix.

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Photography by Annie Peel

Put the flour into a bowl and add the sugar and the cubed, coldish butter. Rub the mixture together. You’re trying to achieve a sandy texture and you do this by lifting the mixture and rubbing it together between your fingers and thumb  letting it drop back into the bowl. This can be done in a food processor but its nice doing it by hand. Especially if you have a nice view out of your kitchen window!

Pour the rhubarb mixture into your crumble bowl and sprinkle the top with at least a good fingers depth of the crumble mix. Bake it in an oven preheated to 140ºC with fan for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden and delicious looking and the syrup from beneath starts to bubble out. Serve it with CREAM.

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Photography by Annie Peel