Tonight is the two hour series premiere of The Taste on ABC – staring the acerbically witty Anthony Bourdain, queen of home cooking and domestic goddess Nigella Lawson, the ‘breakout star’ classically trained French chef Ludo Lefebvre and restaurateur Brian Malarkey.
My friend and twitter maven Jo from @MyLastBite, My Last Bite has organized a party for Ludo to celebrate his new show and she’s been cooking up a storm – think brocomolli, foie gras and pork belly. I offered to help with a dessert and suffering a little from Recipe-Block (think writers block when you don’t know what to cook) I tweeted out “I’m trying to decide what to bring for dessert at #TeamLudo dinner – recipe from @Nigella_Lawson?” Imagine my delight when Nigella replied with the idea to make pink rhubarb crumble for Ludo. Perfect.
So I tracked down the rhubarb – fresh in from Holland at Gelsons and set about tweaking my recipe. I started with the recipe from Nigella in her great book The Feast and then I added a little je ne sais quoi because I can’t help but think that the addition of a little crystalized ginger in the crumble and a little ground ginger and black pepper in the rhubarb will take this beloved English dessert to a new level in taste and perfection for my French friend.
During my research for a great crumble recipe I came across this video of Chef Raymond Blanc making a rhubarb and strawberry crumble at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons.
I love watching Chef Blanc as he goes into his fabulous kitchen garden and cuts the rhubarb that has been grown to perfection under the most beautiful terracotta cloche. He returns to his kitchen where he has someone wash and cut the stalks as he cooks the crumble separately and then adds it almost as a cookie on top of the dish at the end. As much as I adore Chef Blanc and as much as I respect and admire all that France has to offer in terms of food and cooking I beg to differ on this crucial aspect of the dish. Surely the point is to have the juices from the fruit seep into the crumble as it cooks to form that sublime combination where the crumble and filling meet? This is just one of those comfort food desserts where I think the home cooks have an edge over the professional chefs – in The Taste cooking contest the judges have one bite to judge the dish. Tonight I’m hoping this crumble will have everyone coming back for many more bites.
The Best Rhubarb Crumble Recipe EVER!
Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s recipe in The Feast
This tart fruit makes the perfect filling for a crumble. In England March brings in pink forced rhubarb and with it the need to bake up a crumble and serve it with copious amounts of custard. Being January we are little early in the season for local rhubarb but desperate times calls for desperate measures – thank goodness for Gelsons where I found some pretty pink stalks squeezed between parsley roots and turnips.
For the Filling:
2 lbs rhubarb, chopped into 1/2 in pieces
50g (1/4 cup) Bakers sugar (superfine)
15g (tablespoon) butter
1 tablespoon paste or vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Crumble Topping:
150g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
110g (1/2 cup/4oz)unsalted butter, cold and diced
15g (1 tablespoon) Bakers sugar
32g (2 Tablespoons) Crystalized Ginger
3 tablespoons turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)
1. Heat the oven to 375 F with a baking tray on the middle rack.
2. In a large pan heat the rhubarb over medium heat with the sugar, butter, vanilla paste, cornstarch, ginger and black pepper for about 5 minutes, until the rhubarb is glossy and everything has melted together.
To make the Crumble Topping:
1. In the food processor pulse the flour, baking powder and chilled butter until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add the Bakers sugar, ginger and Turbinado sugar and pulse very little just to combine.
2. Spread evenly over the top of the rhubarb and press down gently.
Cheats Custard – Quick Creme Anglaise
1 can Ambrosia Devon Custard
1 cup Organic cream
1 tablespoon vanilla paste
Combine all the ingredients in a medium sauce pan over low heat, pour into a fancy jug and serve over the top of the crumble. No one will ever know!