I made it out to my first farmers market of the year this last Sunday and was somewhat underwhelmed at the selection of produce. I know we had a hard winter and a late spring but there was almost nothing out there. the only two things that looked worth while were some asparagus and some rhubarb. I ended up buying 2 pounds of each and that was it. The asparagus ended up on the grill with some chicken and one pound of the rhubarb is destined for a nice rhubarb crisp. The other pound of rhubarb I used in a very successful experiment.
I have been watching a lot of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstahl's River Cottage on TV lately and in one of the episodes he made a gooseberry and elderflower fool. For those unfamiliar with what a fool is, it is traditionally a chilled mixture of stewed fruits and custard. In the episode I was watching Hugh used heavy whipping cream beaten to stiff peaks in place of a custard and then stewed the gooseberries with a little sugar and the elderflower. It looked beautiful and the idea of a rhubarb and lilac fool just popped into my head.
I have been using lilacs to make jelly for a few years now and since the gooseberries that I can pick won't be ready until later this summer I thought of rhubarb as an equally tart substitute. The end result was a simple but gorgeous combination of tartness from the rhubarb mellowed by the sweetness of the whipped cream and just a slight hint of floral beauty from the lilacs. As a whole I would say the dessert was a success although my daughter thought it was just a little to tart. Nothing a little honey could fix.
Rhubarb and Lilac Fool
1 pound of rhubarb
1/4 cup sugar
3-4 lilac clusters
2 tablespoons of water
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons of sugar
1. cut the rhubarb into 2 inch chunks and put in a large sauce pan with sugar lilac and water.
2. cook the rhubarb for 15-20 minutes over medium heat or until the rhubarb becomes a soupy
3. using a chinois or mesh sieve press the rhubarb mixture through until you get all large
chunks out and end up with a think rhubarb soup, set aside and let cool
4. whip the heavy cream and sugar until stiff peaks form
5. fold the cooled rhubarb mixture into the cream until well incorporated
6. pour into serving dishes and then chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
I served these in stemless wine glasses and there was enough to make four good portions