Rhub awakening

Freshly grown rhubarb is a huge favourite this time of year – in more ways than one!

Not all rhubarb is created equal. While we’re all familiar with the field grown variety which comes into season in April and May, I doubt many of us have come across Gunnera Manicata, also known as the Giant Rhubarb. A native of Brazil, the largest specimen ever recorded was grown at Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens in Dorset with a leaf measuring 11 feet across. Try getting that into your crumble – or this month’s tasty recipe from Tom Robinson, the head chef of The Forest at Feckenham…

RHUBARB & STEM GINGER PAVLOVA

Serves 4

For the rhubarb:

  • 300g rhubarb, peeled and cut into 4cm batons
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 vanilla pod (seeds scraped)
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp of grenadine or half a tsp of red food colouring

Dissolve the sugar in the water by bringing to the boil. Add the colouring and rhubarb and turn the heat down to a simmer Poach until just soft (about 4-5mins). Take the rhubarb out of the stock and leave to cool. Meanwhile, return the stock to the heat and reduce to a syrup (it may need a sprinkle more sugar).

For the stem ginger cream:

  • 200ml double cream
  • 25g stem ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp syrup from the ginger jar
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar

Whisk all ingredients together to form soft peaks and keep refrigerated until needed.

For the meringues:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp cornflour

Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed. Add the sugar a tablespoon at a time. Finally add the vinegar and cornflour. Using a large serving spoon, quenelle the meringue into 4 portions on a greaseproof lined baking tray. Cook for 1 hour at 100c in a dry oven. Leave to cool before removing from baking tray.

To serve:

On your serving plates place some of the cream and rhubarb next to each other and place a meringue on top. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and a little more finely chopped stem ginger.

Forest at Feckenham, 1 Droitwich Road, Feckenham, Redditch, B96 6JE tel 01527 894422 www.theforestatfeckenham.co.uk