Rhubarb Fool with Cardamom Cream and Pistachios

There’s great excitement at Ballymaloe this weekend for the third Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine, which by now is affectionately known as the LitFest, a mega two day celebration of great food and drink and food writing. 

Participants and food lovers are pouring in from all over the world to meet and hear their favourite cooks and chefs. Others will want to meet icons of the beverage world. Check out www.litfest.ie  for details.

If you’re not already on your way, you’ll have missed Sam & Sam Clark of Moro, Allegra McEvedy and April Bloomfield from The Spotted Pig in New York. Charlotte Pike’s session on Fermented Foods is also at the Ballymaloe Cookery School at 3pm in Demo Theatre 2.

There is still time to try for tickets for tomorrow’s events, Sunday May 17.

Rebecca Sullivan will discuss her book Like Grandma Used to Make in The Blue Dining Room at The Ballymaloe Cookery School at 9.30am.

Fuchsia Dunlop is a global star who has been described by The Sunday Telegraph as “the best writer in the west on Chinese food”. 

She will be in Demo Theatre 1. This is a unique opportunity to watch, listen, learn and taste some of the foods of China from one of the world’s greatest experts on the subject.

Rachel Allen will host Leylie Hayes and Hugo Arnold of Avoca Café’s exciting cookery demonstration at 10am on Sunday in Demo Theatre 2.

Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich from Honey & Co Restaurant in London will do their magic and discuss their favourite ingredients at 11am in Kitchen 2.

Another must see is Jack Monroe who will give a ‘parent and children interactive’ cookery demonstration in Demo Theatre 2 at 2pm.

The much anticipated Christian Puglisi from Relae and Manfreds in Copenhagen will share his Nordic secrets at 2.30pm in Demo Theatre 1. I absolutely love his fresh, delicious and creative food.

If you missed Sam and Sam Clarke’s demo, there’s a chance to catch them in The Grainstore tomorrow Sunday at 2.30pm where they will discuss their restaurants and cookbooks Moro and Morito – a brilliant way to round off what promises to be an exhilarating weekend.

Finally, Alice Waters will tell the story of Chez Panisse at 5.30pm in The Grainstore at Ballymaloe, a rare opportunity to see and hear this extraordinary woman who has been such a force for change in the food world not only in America but across the world.

Her Edible School Garden Project has inspired countless people both here in Ireland and around the globe.

Rhubarb Fool with Cardamom Cream and Pistachios

Serves 4

For the Cardamom Cream

6 green cardamom pods

3 tablespoons caster sugar

225ml crème frâiche

225ml double cream

For the Rhubarb

550g rhubarb (about 3 fat stalks), topped and tailed,

then sliced crosswise into 4cm pieces

50g caster sugar

100ml dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

2½ teaspoons rose water

To serve the fool

75g shelled salted roasted pistachios

Make the cardamom cream: Use the flat of your knife to smash the cardamom pods one by one. Discard the greenish husks. Pound the cardamom seeds to a powder in a mortar, then add the sugar and pound briefly. 

Put the creme frâiche and double cream in a large mixing bowl and stir in the sugar mixture. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and refrigerate it while you cook the rhubarb.

Make the rhubarb: Toss together the rhubarb and sugar in a bowl. Put the mixture in a medium pot and add the white wine. Use a knife to scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pot; discard the pod. 

Set the pot over medium-low heat, bring to a very gentle simmer, and cook, tenderly stirring occasionally, until the liquid is a little creamy and the rhubarb is very tender but the pieces are still more or less intact, about 15 minutes. 

Set aside to cool. (To cool it quickly, scrape the mixture into another bowl, set it over a larger bowl filled with ice, and stir gently.) Once the rhubarb is completely cool, stir in the rose water.

Make the fool: Use a whisk or handheld electric mixer to whip the cream mixture until it’s fluffy and full, with semi-stiff peaks. Grab four approximately 225g serving containers or one large bowl for a family-style presentation. 

It’s nice if they’re clear, so you can see the layers. Spoon some of the rhubarb mixture into the bottom of each glass (or into the large bowl), top with a layer of cream, and sprinkle on some pistachios. 

Keep layering this way until you’ve used everything up, making sure you finish with a layer of rhubarb.

Cover and pop into the fridge until well chilled, at least 1 hour.

From A Girl and her Pig by April Bloomfield; A Girl and Her Greens: Hearty Meals from the Garden by April Bloomfield will be out on May 21 published by Canongate Books.

Baked Eggs with Anchovies and Cream

Serves 4

1 large garlic clove, crushed and peeled

1 teaspoon rosemary leaves

About 25g unsalted butter

3 whole salt-packed anchovies, rinsed, soaked, and filleted

6 tablespoons double cream

¼ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

4 large eggs

A few dried pequin chillies or pinches of red pepper flakes

Maldon or another flaky sea salt

4 teaspoons crème fraîche

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6.

Finely chop the garlic with the rosemary until the mixture looks a bit like blue cheese.

Put half the butter in a medium pan set over medium-high heat and bring it to a froth. Add the garlic and rosemary mixture and give the pan a little shake. 

When the garlic starts to go brown and nutty, about a minute, add the anchovy fillets, give the pan another little shake, and turn off the heat. Stir the anchovies until they break up. Have a smell — to me, anchovies smell crispy as they cook.

Pour in the cream, add the lemon zest, and stir some more. Turn the heat back to medium-high, bring to the boil, then remove from the heat.

Rub four 225g ramekins with the remaining butter. Put the ramekins in a medium baking dish, split the cream mixture evenly among them, and crack an egg into each one.

Roughly crumble on the chillies and sprinkle a pinch of salt over each yolk. Add a dollop of crème frâîche to each ramekin. Pour just enough water into the baking dish so the water level reaches a little past the level of the cream in the ramekins.

Carefully transfer the baking dish to the middle rack in the oven and cook just until the whites have set completely and the yolks are still creamy, about 20 minutes.

Remove the baking dish from the oven and let the ramekins sit in the water for 2 minutes. Use sturdy tongs to carefully remove them from the water. Serve straight away.

From A Girl and Her Pig by April Bloomfield

Chilled Crab Trifle

Serves 6 to 8

Sea salt

2 Cornish brown crabs (about 900g each), rinsed well

For the Tomato Sauce

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 medium garlic clove, halved lengthwise

A small handful of basil leaves

450g ripe red tomatoes, blanched, peeled, and cored, then roughly chopped

½ tsp Maldon or another flaky sea salt

To Finish the Trifle

Green Goddess (see recipe), chilled

Lemon–Olive Oil Dressing (see recipe)

2 tbsp finely chopped chives

Green Goddess

1 medium Hass avocado

3 tbsp finely chopped chives

3 tbsp finely chopped tarragon leaves

1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped

100 ml double cream

1 large egg yolk

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste

1 tsp Maldon or another flaky sea salt

100 ml extra virgin olive oil

Lemon-Olive Oil Dressing

100 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste

225 ml extra virgin olive oil, or to taste

1½ tsp Maldon or another flaky sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Cook the crabs: Bring a pot of water (big enough to hold and cover the crabs) to the boil over high heat. Season the water with salt until it’s as salty as the ocean. 

Make sure the water is at a rapid boil, then submerge the crabs and cover the pot. Once the water comes back to the boil, uncover the pot and cook the crabs for 9 minutes.

While the crabs are cooking, prepare a big bowl of ice water. When the crabs are done, use tongs to plunge them into the ice water. 

Leave them there until they’re fully cold and drain. Break off the crab legs and claws, then pull off the top shell from each one. Pick out the soft brown meat from the crabs’ bodies and set it a side in a bowl. 

Use a heavy knife to cut each body in half, and use a long flat implement (like the handle of a spoon) to dig out all the meat you can. Add it to the bowl. Finally, use kitchen shears to cut open the legs and claws. Pick out the white meat, trying to keep it as chunky as possible, and put it into the bowl. 

Cover the bowl with clingfilm and chill it in the fridge. Save the shells for another purpose, like crab stock.

Make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan with a lid over medium- high heat until it’s hot but not smoking. 

Add the garlic and cook until it smells toasty and turns a deep golden brown, about 3 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, add the basil, tomatoes, and salt, and give it a stir. 

Cook until the tomatoes have released some of their juice, turn the heat to low, and cook at a gentle simmer until the tomatoes are soft, sweet, and slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Blend the sauce until it’s smooth. Cover and put it in the fridge to chill.

Make the Green Goddess

Halve and stone the avocado, then scoop the flesh into a blender. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the oil and blend until the mixture is very smooth. 

Then drizzle in the olive oil in a nice steady stream, stirring occasionally, until it’s all well combined. Pour the dressing into a bowl. Have a taste and add more salt and or lemon juice, if you fancy. Use it right away.

Make the dressing. Put the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper in a squeezy bottle or plastic container with a lid. Shake really well, taste, and add a little more lemon or olive oil if you like. Set it aside until you are ready to use it and shake again before you do.

Construct the trifle: Feed the tomato sauce and green goddess into separate icing bags (or jerry-rig two resealable plastic bags). Drain off any liquid from the crabmeat. 

Drizzle a few tablespoons of the lemon dressing over the crab (just enough to brighten the crab without overwhelming its flavour), sprinkle the chives over it, and give it all a gentle toss. 

Grab 6 to 8 small glass jars. Put a layer of crab in the bottom of each jar, then a layer of green goddess, and then tomato sauce. Keep layering, finishing with crab on top. Cover with clingfilm and put the trifle in the fridge for 15 minutes.

From A Girl and her Pig by April Bloomfield


Wild Food by Roger Phillips – the first book I ever bought on the subject has just been republished in hard back. Roger is foraging at the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine tomorrow at Ballymaloe.

Ballyfin, Ireland’s most elegant and sumptuous country house hotel is in the midst of beautiful gardens and woodlands near Mountrath, Co Laois. 

Up to relatively recently it has been open to residents only. It’s now open for dinner with Michael Tweedie from Gidleigh Park in the kitchen.

The Organic Centre in County Leitrim has a wide range of exciting gardening courses through the summer months. www.theorganiccentre.ie

Adrian Gallen, a past 12 Week Certificate student has recently reopened The Field Kitchen in the Blackbird, Ballycotton. 

Open Friday-Sunday for the month of May and Wednesday-Sunday through the summer months. Lots of local produce and fresh fish off the boats. www.blackbirdballycotton.com/food.html 


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