Sunday 23 May 2010

Best of British: Asparagus, shrimp, rhubarb, strawberries

It's amazing how different my outlook on life is when the weather changes. A bit of blue sky and temperatures high enough to go about without socks and I feel energised and enthusiastic about life. I want to eat salads and fruit and dishes that go together in a minute and then sit in the conservatory looking at the sky. This is a really, really nice time of year.

And as I have said before, this really is the best time of year to be eating seasonally in England! So many delicious things have their fleeting season in late spring, it'd be rude not to make a pig of yourself on them!

So last week we had a meal of all that is delicious and currently in season. And the best part about it was that it took all of 10 minutes preparation, and a few extra minutes cooking time. Quicker than a bowl of pasta.

We started with lightly steamed asparagus - a whole bunch each because I was feeling very greedy - alongside a big, puffy omelette filled with home made potted shrimps that I had in the freezer. The omelette sat on a piece of light rye toast, to soak up the delicious buttery juices. Wonderful! I've got my omelette making technique pretty much under control and I am very proud of them! But I still fold with a spatula, I don't flip them.

As the main course was quite light (if not precisely low-calorie) I felt justified in making a dessert. We'd bought some lovely strawberries at a local farm shop a couple of days before, but hadn't got around to eating them. So they weren't quite up to eating raw any more. So I decided to combine them with some beautiful fresh rhubarb into something with some of the delicious qualities of a fruit crumble, but slightly lighter.

Deconstructed Rhubarb, Strawberry and Rosewater Crumble (serves 2-4, depending on appetite and sweet-tooth)

75g rolled oats
2tbs caster sugar
1 bunch rhubarb
500g strawberries
2tbs caster sugar, extra
1tbs vanilla extract
1tbs rosewater (depending on the strength of your rosewater - you don't want it to smell like soap)
Half-fat creme fraiche

Toss the oats and 2tbs caster sugar together & spread on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Toast under the grill, watching like a hawk and shaking from time to time, until the sugar caramelises evenly. Set aside to cool.

Cut the rhubarb into chunks, halve some of the strawberries and leave the rest whole. Place in an oven-proof dish (I used a flat enamelled cast iron dutch oven) with the rest of the sugar, the vanilla and the rosewater. Bake, uncovered, in a 180C oven for about 20 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender but not mushy. Allow to cool a bit.

To serve, divide the warm fruit compote between glasses, top with a dollop of creme fraiche and sprinkle with a spoonful of the caramelised oats. The rosewater really brings out the rhubarb and strawberry flavour and the whole dessert sings of summer.


Beth (jamandcream) said...

I know what you mean abouth everything looking up when the weather is good. Loving the deconstructed crumble! Strawberry anbd Rhubarb combo is divine

Bettina Douglas said...

I like the stawberry & rhubarb combination. Not sure they ae in season at the same time here in QLD.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Beth - I've heard about strawberry and rhubarb together but never tried it before. I can see why it is so popular!

Mother - maybe get some frozen strawbs to hang on to until the rhubarb is in season? Or vice versa?

Heather S-G said...

It's feeling that way here in Indiana right now, as well...and all the same stuff in season! We greedily (and happily) shovel in the asparagus while it's in season =)...and your dessert has my tastebuds a-watering!

Mary Bergfeld said...

What an altogether lovely feast - make that a fresh feast! I am a happy camper when asparagus and rhubarb are in season. Your crumble sounds delicious. I've never used rosewater to make mine. I'll have to give it a try. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

Alicia Foodycat said...

Heather - I know nothing about Indiana! I somehow thought it would be hot and dry and not at all the sort of climate you'd get asparagus and rhubarb in!

Mary - I think you'll like the rosewater addition. It sounds really exotic, but the English have been cooking with rosewater since at least the 18th century!

Unknown said...

I think that May is probably the best month in England. The days are long and temperatures usually are high. Plus, as you so correctly say, there all this beautiful, seasonal fresh food available. What more do you need?

Caroline said...

One of the best things about this time of year is that all the tempting things are actively good for you!!! It's almost imperative to stuff yourself with them.

Love the idea of the deconstructed crumble.

I love it when the weather changes for the better like this - it doesn't even matter if I'm not outside making the most of it, just the fact that it's sunny is enough!

HH said...

I must have that dessert! It looks and sounds delicious!! I am enjoying being in the UK this time of year to, but was disgusted after shopping half asleep the other night that I bought non-british asparagus! I have to say it had no where near the flavour of the British one I bought the week before.

Barbara said...

What? You don't flip your omelet like Julia? :)

That asparagus looks divine by the way. As does your strawberry and rhubarb compote. Yummy. I use rosewater in several recipes and love it. Just have to be careful not to use too much!

Anonymous said...

Strawberry an drhubarb are such great combination. Loving the dishes :)

Esi said...

So glad you're getting to play with all the great spring produce!

Alicia Foodycat said...

Johanna - so far the weather is definitely looking like the best of the year!

C - I know! Fruit! Vegetables! The icecream temptation is there though.

HH - asparagus is one of those things that turns starchy really quickly, so if it has to travel any distance it won't be as good.

Barbara - I don't have the courage of my convictions to toss it!

Ellie - thanks for visiting my blog!

Esi - isn't it luxurious? So many beautiful things to eat!

hungryandfrozen said...

What a glam deconstructed crumble! Lucky, lucky you going into the season where all the good foods appear...enjoy the asparagus while it's around :)

kat said...

It is such a great time for local food here too. I can't wait for the strawberries

Sook said...

What a delicious, complete meal! Love it.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Laura - Oh believe me, we are!

Kat - I am going to have to get some more strawberries, these were so good!

Sook - thank you!

Deb in Hawaii said...

Gorgeous meal--everything looks amazing. I love the deconstructed crumble especially with the rosewater.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Deb - I think I have to make the crumble again soon!

Ben - thank you! The weather is certainly putting a spring in my step.

Beatrice said...

Strawberries and rhubarb are such a great combination -- I've never had them with rosewater, though!

~~louise~~ said...

I'm a weather girl too! I've decided not to fight it:)

I love the addition of rosewater in the crumble and I must go check out that potted shrimp. I'm still stocking up the freezer for those sultry days of summer.

Thanks for sharing, Foodycat. Heaven in ten minutes, I'm there!!!

Choclette said...

This sounds like a fabulous meal. Your omelette looks great - I haven't honed my omelette making technique and am always disappointed. Have heard that strawberries and rhubarb are a good combination, but haven't yet tried it.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Beatrice - the rosewater seems to make the strawberries sweeter.

Louise - potted shrimp are delicious! Very English.

Choclette - the first thing with an omelette is the right pan! I have one that really likes cooking eggs.

Joanne said...

I love cooking seasonally. It makes me feel so good about what I'm eating. All of this looks delicious! Especially that strawberry rhubarb dish!

Jon and Sarah said...

This reminded me of my mom. Growing up my mom used to trade strawberry rhubarb pies for stuff like raspberries, and for favors like lawn works etc! I think she still does actually...hrm..

Alicia Foodycat said...

Joanne - I love cooking seasonally, but this really is the best season for doing it!

Jon & Sarah - what a great idea! I wonder who would work on my garden for crumble?


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