Rosemary Shrager

THIS MONTH OUR CELEBRITY CHEF ROSEMARY SHRAGER IS LOVING THE LEAFY SPRING GREENS AROUND, AND GIVES US A DELICIOUS DESSERT RECIPE…

I think March is an exciting month for food, as the new veg starts to come through – including forced rhubarb, and one of my very favourites, spring greens,which I think are so underrated.

I don’t think people are aware that the loose leaves that are exposed to the light are a lot darker and often tougher; they are rich in Vitamin C and high in fibre. This makes them very good for diets. The centre and lighter leaves are not so strong in flavour.

There are so many dishes you can use this for, let me give you some ideas:

The darker and tougher leaves are great for the crispy seaweed in Chinese recipes – just remove the leaves from the stalks, then roll up tightly and cut very finely. Put into deep fat oil (heated to about 170°c) then cook to a crisp. Put on to kitchen roll to get rid of any excess oil, then transfer to a dish and top with a mix of seasonings – 1 teaspoon soft brown sugar, 1 teaspoon coarse Maldon sea salt and 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice.

The other way to enjoy the leaves is to blanch them with stalks in boiling water for 30 seconds, then remove, drain on kitchen roll and spread out. Put on to a board and cut the stalk out, then take some harrisa paste or any gorgeous flavour, then wrap around chicken, fish or any protein. Wrap in cling film and steam or melt some butter and roll it in the butter and braise, covered with tin foil. For the rest of the greens cut into slices and stir fry with ginger and garlic.

You can also make a small pie by rolling out some puff pastry; make a circle of 10cm then roll out a larger circle to go over the top. On top of the smaller circle leaving a 1cm rim, layer some cooked cabbage with good
flavour, put a good pile of tasty mushrooms of your choice, then more cabbage and glaze the outside rim with egg. Now place the larger circle on top, seal well all around and cut any excess pastry away. Then make a small hole in the top and egg all over, put into the oven at 180°c for 35 minutes.

Or you could just cut the greens into four and put them into boiling water for three minutes, drain well and then toss with butter and garlic. I could go on giving you ideas! You can see how versatile they are now.

Now for rhubarb – I know I have talked about it before but I cannot not give you a recipe for it. I adore the wonderful pink colour and again versatility. Here I serve it with a panna cotta.

ORANGE FLOWER AND ROSEWATER PANNA COTTA AND RHUBARB, WITH ORANGE FLOWER SYRUP (serves 6)

✩ 500ml cream ✩ 500ml cream ✩ 80ml milk✩ 75g sugar✩ 1 tablespoon honey✩ ½ teaspoon rosewater✩ 1 teaspoon orange flower water✩ 3 sheets gelatine or 9g in weight

FOR THE SYRUP:

✩ 200g granulated sugar ✩ 200g granulated sugar ✩ 120ml cold water ✩ 1 tablespoon lemon juice ✩ 2 teaspoons orangefl ower water✩ Seeds from 1 pomegranate (optional)

METHOD:

1. Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes. Bring 300ml of the cream, the milk, the sugar and honey to the boil.
2. Away from the heat add the drained gelatine and stir ‘til it has melted completely. Add the orange flower water and the rosewater then lightly whip the remaining cream, just until it starts to thicken, and fold in.
3. Pour into ramekins and allow to set in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
4. Make the syrup with the sugar and water and boil for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool and add the lemon juice, pomegranate seeds and orange flower water.
5. Turn out the panna cotta and serve with the pomegranate syrup.

FOR THE RHUBARB:

✩ 800g forced rhubarb cut to 2cm long with ends removed
✩ 60g caster sugar
✩ 1 teaspoon orange flower water

1. Place the rhubarb onto a baking tray, sprinkle on the rosewater then the sugar, put into the oven at 190°c for 5 minutes or until they begin to soften.
2. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.