Spring is here for sure and all things green are growing again. No sooner had we recovered our tunnel where we grow spinach and chard than it began to grow like crazy. It’s a pleasure to be walking about with a bucket picking again and not to have to ration the spinach in the kitchen. It gets pretty lean during the winter months so it’s exciting to have more to play with.
The tunnel where we will plant our new crop is still being rebuilt. There are seeds germinating in the propagator, but there will probably be a gap in our supply when this vigourous crop decides it’s done it’s bit and goes to seed.
We may be a bit behind on the vegetable front but the chickens are surely up to speed. They are laying lots of eggs. We have lots of new hens from last years hatched eggs and they seem to be joining the laying club — beautiful little eggs of all shades, speckly brown and white.
Plenty of eggs mean plenty of baking to try to use them up. We’ve been playing with recipes in our kitchen. We’ve added a ‘Torta di Ricotta’ – an Italian cheesecake, which is made with the local Toonsbridge buffalo ricotta with poached pears or raspberries studded through to our menu and are playing with new recipes for cookies and energy bars.
The new season rhubarb is back in town. I bought a few beautiful bunches in the market last week and it’s a pleasure to have something other than pears or plums to bake in our tarts.
Rhubarb Clafoutis is a variation on the French classic, Cherry Clafoutis. To be a true clafoutis it would need to be baked with cherries but if we stuck to that we wouldn’t get to eat many clafoutis here in Ireland, as cherries are scarce. Clafoutis is a custard baked in a pan in the oven. Easy-peasy. No pastry or anything complicated, just whisk the ingredients together and pour over roasted or poached fruit and pop it in the oven. It makes a great dessert and if you take the time to arrange the fruit on top it looks quite elegant.
The clafoutis can be baked in an oven-proof pan, an oven-proof dish or a baking tin. It needs to be around 20cm – 24cm in diameter
6 stems of rhubarb
150g caster sugar plus a little extra for the rhubarb
50g white flour (or polenta if you want gluten free)
50g ground almonds
1tsp vanilla extract
about 15g butter to grease the dish/tin/pan
Pre heat the oven 180c.
Wash the rhubarb and cut into approx. 5cm lengths. Toss in a little caster sugar and put onto a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes. The rhubarb should be sweating by this stage.
Crack the eggs into a bowl then add the sugar, flour or polenta and ground almonds. Whisk to a smooth paste. Put the cream into a small saucepan with the vanilla and bring to the boil. Whisk the cream onto the egg mix.
Rub the pan/dish/tin that you are going to use with butter and pour in two thirds of the mix. Arrange the rhubarb around the pan and then drizzle over the remaining batter.
Bake in the oven for approx. 35-40 mins. It might be best to check after 30 minutes just in case you have a hot oven. The clafoutis is cooked when it is golden all over and the custard has set.
Serve at room temperature with whipped cream on the side.
The next cooking class is Italian on Saturday, April 12. We’ll be making pizzas, focaccia, pasta and sauces, risotto, minestrone, polenta and pannacottas. If you fancy learning how to make these and get to eat them all at the same time there are a few places still free.
Con will be making Breads on April 26 and teaching Low GI on May 17 for any one that is interested in eating well and losing weight and I’ll be teaching Vegetarian cooking on May 10 with lots of yummy salads and summer dishes.
If you are interested in any of the above please drop in and visit us in the shop, call or email.
Contact us at Lettercollum Kitchen Project, 22 Connolly Street, Clonakilty. Phone 023 8846251/8836938.