If ever there was a month to keep it simple it was February. And, we would argue, with as much colour as is allowed. Forced rhubarb! Why yes please! Hello, cavolo nero! Where have you been all my winter? Tasting their best when the world is at its coldest. Recipes so vivid and deliciously easy they will become instant classics.
A celebration of rhubarb
Everyone should have one dessert that is just so delicious that anyone will fall in love with you. This flamey, boozey hit of crepe suzette hits the spot. Here we have used our poached rhubarb but blood oranges, which are still brilliant just now, would be equally delicious.
1kg forced rhubarb, cut into 1 inch batons
300g natural cane sugar
1 orange skin peel
2 star anise
4 bay leaf
5 pink pepper whole
5 green cardamom pods
- Bring the sugar, water and aromatics to a boil for 5 mins
- Slide the rhubarb batons in and immediately take off the heat.
- Allow to cool, store in sterilised jars, or use straight away. Will keep for 3 months.
Rhubarb crepe suzette
Crepe (you can use bought, honestly, no one will know, but for the completists)
30g butter, melted
150g plain flour
350g milk, whole
1 egg, whole
150g poached rhubarb juice
100g poached rhubarb
80g rhubarb liqueur, or Grand Marnier
- Blitz the melted butter, flour, milk & egg together, rest for at least 3hrs or overnight in the fridge
- Warm a pan over a medium heat, add a little butter and wait for it to foam, add a ladleful of your batter and swirl to coat the pan as thinly as possible.
- Once cooked you can save them stacked up on a plate. You should have about 10 crepes from this mix, you can make these in advance.
- Bring the poaching juice and the butter to a boil and bubble away until it gets syrupy, about 10 mins. Again, this can be done in advance.
- To finish, fold the crepes into quarters, arranged in a heatproof dish or pan. Gently warm the crepes, poached rhubarb and the syrupy rhubarb juice together over a low flame. Heat the liquor in your once syrupy pan, pour over the crepes and set alight! Serve immediately with some ricotta or ice-cream for a little hot/cold fun.
Cavolo nero, almonds & spaghetti
1 bunch cavalo nero, picked and chopped
50g ground almonds
6 large garlic cloves
100g high quality olive oil
25g butter, unsalted
1 pack spaghetti
- Bring 2 large pans of salted water to a boil, add the garlic & cavalo nero. Set a timer for 7 mins one. Cook the spaghetti in the other pan.
- Meanwhile, grate the pecorino, zest the lemon and select some good music for supper, maybe even light a candle or two, this is a romantic supper.
- Once the timer goes off, take a cup of the cooking water from the cavolo nero pan, drain the rest into a colander before dumping garlic and into a blender along with the butter, pecorino and oil. Blitz until smooth, add enough cooking water to get a nice glossy sheen.
- Drain the pasta before it is over cooked, remember it will keep cooking a little after you drain it, toss the pasta and the sauce in a large bowl, squeeze a little lemon & salt to taste, plate up with extra a few chilli flakes, pecorino & oil.