You see, I have become a recent slave to the seasons. I’m a little addicted to foodie magazines at the moment and the current foodie trend is seasonal eating. Quite how the british can justify eating bananas is beyond me if you look at the world in those terms, but maybe we can work out some moral loophole.
Anyway, the recent faddy thing for me has been gooseberries. No idea why. However, I was all set to make Sarah Raven’s Gooseberry tart, except for some reason there were no gooseberries. Not even in Waitrose. bum. So I bought rhubarb instead – Rhubarb tart, how terribly middle england. Now, since rhubarb is slightly more dense than the old gooseberry, I thought I’d poach it very gently in orange juice and ground ginger. Except I got a little distracted while I was making it and ended up with rhubarb sludge. So I bunged it all in the oven and got rhubarb quiche. It went down very well at last night’s gig I can tell you.
400g untrimmed rhubarb
juice of 2 small oranges or one large one
1tsp ground ginger
caster sugar to taste (i used about 50g)
1 egg yolk
150g plain flour (I use Shipton Mill)
50g caster sugar
75g fridge-cold butter
284ml double cream
100g caster sugar
zest of 1 large orange or 2 small ones
first, trim and chop the rhubarb into 2cm cubes. Pare the rind from the oranges and set aside. Juice the fruit and add it to a saucepan with the rhubarb and ground ginger. Add some caster sugar and leave to simmer until soft, about 5-10 minutes. Use your judgement here – I prefer my rhubarb a little more sharp than others, but you may prefer it sweeter so be careful with the caster sugar. Leave to cool once cooked.
Now, make the pastry. Briefly mix the sugar and flour together in a food processor. Add the butter in small chunks and pulse very carefully until you have a mixture resembling breadcrumbs. Be careful not to over mix as you don’t want to warm the butter and create the pastry in the processor. Turn the breadcrumbs into a mixing bowl and add the egg yolk. Mix with your hands and add only enough of the water to create a dough. turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll the pastry so you can line a 22-23cm flan tin. Don’t trim the pastry! Put the tin on a baking try and leave to sit in the fridge for 30mins.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4. Place a sheet of greaseproof paper on the lined flan tin and add baking beans. Place the tin in the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes.
While the tin is cooking, mix the cream, eggs, sugar and orange rind together until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the cooled Rhubarb. When the pastry is finished in the oven, take it out and leave it cool slightly. Add the rhubarb mixture and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the centre is set and the tart is starting to brown lightly.
Can I rant?
One of the drawbacks of performing at functions so often is that you often end up eating the same typical celebration food, usually leg or breast of chicken (corn-fed or not) in a white wine sauce with a medley of seasonal vegetables. We refer to it as a ‘substantial chicken dish’.
Or worse, if you’re in a hotel, sandwiches and chips. That particular combination is the bane of my life. For some reason, this classifies as a hot meal in a hotel. I mean, would you offer sandwiches and chips to someone in place of dinner? No, probably not.
Then why is it customary to feed this to the wedding band who have driven up to 2 hours to get there, have to sit around for another 2 because the wedding is running late, have to remain sober because they’re driving but put up with the drunken rantings of the wedding guests, play I Wish for the 18 millionth time in their life, explain why we can’t play for another hour for free and then drive the 2 hours home. Yes, we’re getting paid but considering we have to pay 22% tax, 8% national insurance, petrol and subsistence costs, and that we might only gig twice a week, then £150 per musician is a fairly reasonable amount of money. PLEASE can you feed me something other than sandwiches and chips or a substantial chicken dish? After all, the hotel or caterer is probably charging you about £5 a head and when you think they probably make it for about £1.50 a head they’re taking quite a cut. Get your money’s worth.
Anyway, the reason I say all this is that sunday lunchtime jazz gigs normally mean you get fed a roast lunch. I’m not arguing about that. It just meant that after today’s jazz gig I didn’t feel like another roast when I got home so I made this light lentil soup.
Light Lentil Soup
500ml chicken stock
1 large glass white wine
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2tbsp chilli oil (mine is fairly mild – dilute yours with vegetable oil if necessary)
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, ground
1/2 tsp coriander seeds, ground
250g Red lentils
Fry the onions in the oil until they are translucent. Add the garlic and after 60 seconds add the ground spices. Toast them for another minute or so and then add the lentils. Coat them until they are glistening with the spices and oil. Add the wine and simmer until reduced and then pour in the chicken stock and add the bay leaves. clamp a lid on and simmer gently for 30 mins.