Sunday, February 24, 2008

Jamie At Home: Episode 7, Rhubarb

Today Jamie Oliver is working with rhubarb, which is something I haven’t really cooked a lot with. I see it in a lot of English cooking and I always think of pies, but I’ve seen lately people doing more with this interesting vegetable. Jamie says it’s a perennial and brilliant for dessert and savory dishes. They’re also really leafy. He’s like a bobbing head crouching in that field of rhubarb plants in the garden.

First, he makes something he calls “Speedy Rhubarb Fool.” (You can get the complete recipe on the Food Network site.) I’m not really sure what that means. Is he saying it’s so quick and easy any fool can make it? Or is he saying: “This is Speedy Rhubarb, Fool.” LOL. Anywho, Jamie’s basically making a master recipe that can be made into a compote, jam or dessert.

The trick, he says, is balancing the sweet and sourness. So how much sugar you put in it will make your Speedy Rhubarb fantastic or dead wrong. Jamie chops up some rhubarb and puts them in a pot, along with unrefined sugar (I notice he uses that a lot) and the juice of one orange. He says you can use water if you don’t have an orange around.

Then he gets some puff pastry sheets (I love using these, so easy) and slices off two inch-thick slices. Then he rolls them into a thin layer, dusting his board with cinnamon and icing sugar instead of flour. He says he’s doing this for an added sweetness. I’m not really sure what he has planned for them. He cuts them into an odd shaped triangular pieces and then place them in a sauté pan with some oil and starts cooking them.

As the puff pastry cooks away in the pan, he gets some Greek yogurt and mixes in some honey and orange zest. He checks his puff pastry sheets and says they should start puffing up as it browns in the pan, but they really just look like pancakes to me. He turns them over.

He brings out some glass dessert cups, and scoops some yogurt on the bottom. Then he checks his stewing rhubarb and says they’re ready when the rhubarb falls part when you pinch one. Jamie says you should check the syrup at this time, and if needed, you should add more sugar. This is the whole balancing thing he was talking about earlier.

I don’t think the rhubarb cooked that long, but I guess it’s ready because Jamie scoops some out and places them into the glass dish with the yogurt. He creates a layered thing with yogurt and rhubarb and then some yogurt, finally topped off with the rhubarb. The pink of the rhubarb looks pretty against the white of the yogurt, but you know what? It looks kind of like a watery mess? He gets his puff pastry sheets from the pan and serves it with the rhubarb yogurt dessert as a side. I think some biscotti would work just as well.

Rhubarb and Crispy Pork

Jamie’s back in his main garden kitchen, showing how rhubarb is nice for a savory dish. And when you think of sweet and savory, what do you think? That’s right, Asian baby. Jamie says he thought up this dish the other day and thought of the acid of rhubarb being similar to apples. So he’s going to make rhubarb with some pork (sans the apple sauce).

He gets four cloves of garlic and some fresh ginger, and two big red chilies and places them all in the processor. He adds a teaspoon of five spice and four tablespoons of soy sauce and the same amount of honey. Then he adds some rhubarb and pulses all this to create a rhubarb sauce.

He gets a casserole dish and adds pork belly that’s been cut into 1-inch chunks. He adds a pint of water and pours some of the rhubarb paste. Then he bakes the pork belly for an hour and a half in a 350 degree oven. Of course, this being the magic of television we cut to when he brings the cooked pork belly a second later. He tastes the sauce to see how it is, and adds more soy sauce.

Now that the pork belly is somewhat cooked, he’s going to give them color by sautéing them in a pan with ground nut oil. It’s Jamie’s attempt at wok frying, but without the wok. You know, Jamie cooks so often with Italian influences that it’s nice to see this Asian-influenced dish. Although it’s not very authentic, but I’ll look pass that.

At this point, he’s talking about how you want the pork and the sauce to caramelized into a nice golden brown and that way the sauce will just be “pukka.” Hey, he said pukka! He catches himself like he just swore or something. “Oh my. I said pukka. I haven’t said that word in 10 years.” He says it in this melancholy kind of way. Well, just for you Jamie: pukka, pukka pukka, pukka, PUKKA. ;-)

Jamie gathers some sprouts, cress, shiso and pick coriander. They all look pretty and small, a nice variety of micro greens. He chops up a spring onion and then gets ready to plate his dish.

He goes to a pot where he’s been boiling some noodles earlier. He gets some noodles and then places some pork on top, garnishing with the spring onions and then a mix of the sprouts and micro greens. And to mix up the Asian influence, originally starting out Chinese, he now adds lime and chili for that Thai or Vietnamese influence. It’s a weird mix of hot and cold ingredients. I don’t really get the fresh vegetables added to this pork noodle dish. But hey, I’m sure it’s pukka.

Rhubarb and Custard Souffle

Jamie’s in the tiny toolshed kitchen, which I notice he often ends his show cooking from this tiny spot. He’s making another dessert, this time a soufflé. (Recipe here.)

He preps the ramekins by rubbing them with butter, but instead of dusting with flour he’s going to use ginger snap crumbs. So he gets some ginger snaps and place them in a kitchen towel, which he then proceeds to whack against the side of the table. Jamie looks at the cameraman like he’s really loving working out his aggression. Just for the heck of it, he grabs a small rolling pin and uses that to whack the snaps. Of course, they’re totally pulverized and he uses them to dust the ramekins.

Using the same rhubarb from the compote he made earlier in the show, he puts a tablespoon in each ramekin. He puts some leftover rhubarb in a bowl, along with one egg yolk, store-bought custard and a teaspoon of flour. Then in separate a bowl, he gets four egg whites and a pinch of salt and beats them up. He stirs the other ingredients in the other bowl. Jamie is really multitasking. Then in the whites, he adds unrefined sugar, trying to get a nice shiny, silky blend. Then he gets a small scoop of the whites and folds them into the rhubarb mix. This is his way of slowly adding in the whites without loosing the air. In fact, Jamie makes a big point to say the air escapes as you mix, so you have to act quickly. He adds in the rest of the whites, folding it in gently but quickly.

He pours the rhubarb mix into the ramekins and places them on a preheated tray. He gently puts them into the oven, carefully closing the door. Souffles are so sensitive. He cooks them for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. “Just leave them, trust them,” Jamie warns, saying not to be tempted to open the door.

Jamie’s lucky because his oven has a glass window (unlike mines) so he can tell when they’re all nice and puffy. So of course when Jamie brings out his cooked soufflé, they look perfectly golden brown and puffed up. I’m surprised he actually punctures the puffiness by getting a teaspoon and poking in the middle so that he can pour some more custard down the middle. Hmm, more custard. I guess it’s worth puncturing the soufflé for more custard. He finishes it off with some powdered sugar.

Creamy Rhubarb and Vodka Cocktail

I thought Jamie was done cooking, but he’s not. He’s out in his garden. It’s so sunny and I’m totally jealous because it’s been raining all weekend in the Bay Area. He gets the juice from the rhubarb, which looks kind of pretty. In a cocktail shaker, he puts two shots of the juice, a handful of ice, a shot of cream, a swig of milk, and two shots of vodka. He also puts a shot of liqueure I haven’t heard of. I think it sounded like “galleona.”

Anyway, he shakes it up in a way that only Jamie does so well, and then pours them into martini glasses. They’re just like strawberry cream. Hmmm, looks good. Cheers.

Must be a British Thing:
Just some clarification on some of the terms Jamie uses.

Cress=baby water cress

Icing sugar=confectioner’s sugar

Jamieisms heard in this episode:



Mucking about

Jamie At Home airs on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. on the Food Network. Visit Jamie’s Web site at More on the accompanying book for the series here.


Anonymous said...

Please forgive a non-chef for asking, but is rhubard different than rhubarb?

Single Guy Ben said...

Thanks anonymous for catching the typo! I wish I can say it was my cold I had last week, or the fact that I was typing in the rain, or the fact that Marion Cottilard had an upset win for best actress for the Oscar, but it was just a brain fart on my part in misspelling rhubarb. I hardly cook it, like I mention, so I think subconsciously my fingers were just typing it out wrong. But I've fixed it throughout now.

And BTW, I'm not a real chef, misspelling can attest to that. That's just a user name I created when I started this blog. I know some new visitors to my blog have been confusing me for a chef because I go by the Single Guy Chef, or Chef Ben, but I'm not nor do I have any grand illusions that I am. Just wanted to make that clear for all the new readers! But thanks for visiting!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the liqueur in the cocktail might be Galliano, maybe?

Anonymous said...

A "fool" is just a kind of dessert made of fruit and whipped cream.