There I was, waiting patiently throughout the
spring extended winter for my rhubarb plants to make their entrance proper and bring forth stalks enough for me to cook with.
I had very particular plans for the first rhubarb of the season, in the shape of a recipe that may possibly explain why Martijn Kajuiter of the fabulous Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Co. Waterford, has a Michelin star and I do not.
I was a little perturbed however, when, with a dry spell and a little bit of heat, my rhubarb plants got ahead of themselves and started producing seed heads – a thing I have not seen rhubarb do before. Pretty though the seed heads may have been, they weren’t going to do rhubarb production any favours. They consequently met a swift end and the plants were left to get on with their normal stalk-producing business. Thankfully, there was enough of that happening to meet my stewy dessert purposes.
It had all started a couple of months ago with a conversation on Twitter between myself and Martijn Kajuiter, which went something like this:
What can I say. I was intrigued by the idea of a dessert which called for the addition of beetroot juice to stewed rhubarb. And now, several months later, having finally had the opportunity to try the combination out, let me tell you that it was well worth the wait.
Martijn Kajuiter’s Rhubarb Dessert With Beetroot
I don’t know what more elaborate preparation Martijn applies to his restaurant version, but even in its simplified form here, this is well worth a try. I can only say that my reaction to the taste of the beetroot in the dish was surprise followed very quickly by delight.
As for the recipe itself, Martijn calls for jam sugar, though I just used the normal granulated variety. You can also reduce the amount of sugar used, if that’s to your taste. Unless you have access to beetroot juice, you’ll need some fresh beetroot and a juicer – to get 50ml of juice, I needed around 125g of beetroot. I’ve halved all of the quantities in the original recipe, but double them back up if you like.
His recipe also says that he serves the rhubarb with vanilla ice cream and toasted sugarbread. Sugarbread is a Dutch speciality – a yeasted white bread with spiced sugar cubes cooked into the loaf. I didn’t have or make sugarbread for this (though I will someday!) – I just served with ice cream and crumbled pieces of shortbread, which did very nicely.
For the beetroot stewed rhubarb:
- 500g rhubarb, chopped
- zest and juice of half an orange
- 50ml beetroot juice (juice around 125g of fresh beetroot)
- 200g sugar
- Vanilla ice cream
- Shortbread or ginger biscuits (cookies), coarsely crumbled
You’ll also need:
- A juicer and fresh beetroot, unless you have an alternative source of beetroot juice
- Place the rhubarb, orange zest and juice, beetroot juice and sugar in a saucepan, covered, over a medium heat.
- Cook until it just starts to bubble, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the rhubarb pieces are very soft and disintegrate easily, around 20 minutes.
- You can serve this warm with lots of vanilla ice cream and some crumbled shortbread if you like. Cream or natural yoghurt would work well either.
- I would definitely consider using this as a basis for rhubarb fool, with lots of whipped cream folded into the beetroot stewed rhubarb.
- This amount serves 3-4