Belinda Gray from The Grower has kindly supplied a few wonderful spring recipes. Belinda is a highly experienced vegetable and fruit gardener living in Suffolk. She offers small and inspiring classes within the setting of an old Suffolk walled garden where you can learn all aspects of successfully growing year-round seasonal produce.

For further information please go to:

The Grower – Vegetable and Garden Design School

http://www.the-grower.co.uk

RHUBARB AND ORANGE CAKE

This is one of those ‘ make with your eyes closed cakes’ yet is versatile for tea or as a pudding with cream and a delicious way to enjoy your rhubarb harvest.

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g pink rhubarb , cleaned and cut into 2-3cm chunks
  • 280g golden caster sugar
  • 225 g soft butter (consistency of face cream!)
  • finely grated zest and juice of a large orange
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 3 medium eggs, whisked
  • icing sugar to serve

METHOD

Put the chopped rhubarb in a bowl with 50g of the sugar and leave for 30 mins. to draw out some of the juices

Grease and line a 23cm loose-bottomed tray or small rectangular baking tray ( if prefer a  flatter tray bake type cake) oven set at 180c.

In a large bowl beat with an electric whisk the remaining 230g of sugar, softened butter, zest and juice until blended. Add the eggs slowly then flour, baking powder and almonds until well mixed. With a serving spoon fold in the chopped rhubarb and juices and fill your baking tray or cake tin smoothing down the surface evenly.

Cook for about an hour until browning on the surface and a skewer test comes out clean.

Cool on a baking tray then sprinkle with some sieved icing sugar and serve cold for tea -time or warm as a pudding with custard or a dollop of clotted cream

BETTER RHUBARB

SPRING RHUBARB RELISH

I have an ever enlarging rhubarb plot and this is a great way of enjoying some of the lovely pink stalks. It can be made with the early season sweet stems or later cropping stems or alternatively with a glut of gooseberries.

A really delicious relish to accompany oily fish, chicken, curry or a wedge of strong cheese.

Makes x4 340g jars

  • 500g granulated sugar
  • 100mls cider vinegar
  • 100mls water
  • 1kg untrimmed rhubarb
  • 125g raisins

For the spice bag:

  • 50g fresh root ginger, bruised
  • 2 cinnamon sticks snapped in half
  • 6 cloves

First make your spice bag by tying ingredients into a 20cm square of muslin and tying with cotton or string.

Put the sugar, vinegar, 100mls of water and the spice bag into the preserving pan. Heat gently allowing the sugar to melt and the spices to infuse into the syrup. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 20 mins.

Trim and wipe the rhubarb into 2cm chunks, removing all poisonous leaves (safe to compost). Add the rhubarb and the raisins to the cooled, spiced syrup and cook gently for 15-20 mins. until the mixture is thick but the rhubarb in soft chunks.

Remove the spice bag and pour or spoon into sterilised jars, sealing with vinegar-proof lids.

Recipe taken from – River Cottage Handbook No.2 ‘Preserves’ by Pam Corbin