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Some simply exquisite dishes, sweet and savoury, created by chef Tim McDougall at the Celtic Manor
MY abiding memory of rhubarb is school dinner platefuls of gloopy, stringy grey-green mush – served with lumpy custard.
Is it any wonder that I have never touched the stuff since – or at least not until I tasted some simply exquisite dishes, sweet and savoury, created by chef Tim McDougall at the Celtic Manor resort just down the A40.
Tim served up pork tenderloin with rhubarb and black pudding; clotted cream rice pudding with rhubarb compote and ham hock terrine with rhubarb jelly, while we were also treated to a rhubarb fizz cocktail.
And for those who weren’t convinced by the potential of rhubarb the truly inspirational Tim and his kitchen colleagues also rustled up a watercress veloute with goat’s cheese quenelles, poussin with broad beans and peas and sewin in beurre blanc with sorrel.
All simple dishes to cook, concentrating not on fancy culinary techniques, but on simple natural flavours and easy to source ingredients.
Tim is a natural instructor, full of hints and tips about getting that fine dining experience in the comfort of your own kitchen – and nothing he demonstrated was beyond any competent home cook.
And Tim’s tips for avoiding the gloop? Gently poach thin strips of rhubarb in water and a little wine. Don’t overcook it – peel most of it but make sure you leave some skin on to maintain a nice pink colour. Alternatively air dry thin strips in a very low oven and use to add texture to food.
Rhubarb Fizz Cocktail 1½ shots rhubarb syrup* 2 shots white rum 1 lemon cut into wedges Handful of basil leaves Ginger ale Ice Place lemon wedges in a cocktail shaker with the rhubarb syrup, ice and basil leaves and muddle together until lemon releases its juice. Add the rum and ice and shake. Strain and top up with ginger ale.
* For rhubarb syrup mix 2 cups sliced rhubarb; 1 cup water, 1 cup demerera sugar. Cook over a medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil then simmer until rhubarb is completely softened.
Continue to cook until reduced.
Strain and store in a sterilized screw top jar. It will last for at least two weeks.