How does that saying go – necessity is the mother of invention? I think that applies to cooking as well as it does to anything else. More often than not, I start pulling random ingredients out of the fridge and pantry and just start playing (and praying that the final result will be edible), often without a clear idea of the end result. Most of the time it even works out in my favour, so I thought I’d tell you about one of my recent creations.
Remember how I was given a large quantity of rhubarb recently? It’s been precariously perched on a shelf in my fridge for way too long and every time I opened my fridge it threatened to leap to its death. It had to be used, once and for all, I decided. But how? More muffins? No, sick of those. To braise some chicken? Been there, done that. What about a rhubarb compote? Something thick and lucious that could be swirled into yogurt, or put on top of ice cream, or over cheese? Yes, a rhubarb compote would be the perfect final send-off.
So besides the rhubarb, what else should join the party?
Some sugar and orange juice (for sweetness), some candied ginger (because it was in the pantry and I thought it would compliment the rhubarb nicely, and a vanilla bean (because I love me some vanilla).
Check out this rhubarb:
It’s green! Why is that? Does anyone know? I sure don’t. But I chopped up a few stalks anyways, until I had 2.5 c worth.
Ginger seems to be one of those things that you either love or hate. I happen to love it, so when I found some crystallized ginger in my pantry I knew it was meant to be a part of this experiment. Rhubarb + Ginger = True Love 4Ever
I gave it a coarse chop, and ended up with about 1/4 c. Perfect!
I’m sick of chopping. Let’s get this party started already!
Dissolve 3/4 c of sugar in 1/2 c of orange juice over medium heat:
Then add the rhubarb:
And the ginger!
And a pinch of salt too, to help bring everything together.
Give it a stir…
Crank the heat to high to bring it to a boil, and then put a lid on the pot and reduce the heat to low so it simmers for a bit.
Ten minutes later, the rhubarb should be tender.
Hmm. At this point, I decided that there was still too much liquid for my liking so I brought the pot back to a boil to reduce it a bit.
And reduce it I did! Perhaps even too much. I’m glad this is my experiment though, so I get to write the rules. Check it out now:
Now, let’s talk about vanilla. I had a jar of vanilla beans in my pantry, and if you’ve never seen one up close and personal, here is your chance.
Slit the bean lengthwise…
And use the tip of your knife to scrape all of the seeds (i.e. everything that’s inside) out.
Behold, the naked vanilla bean. Exposed, raw, and vulnerable.
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, even think about throwing this out. Ever wondered how to make vanilla sugar?
Now you know.
Where was I again? I get distracted very easily.
Oh yes – add the vanilla to the rhubarb mixture.
Give it a stir, and a quick taste – be careful, it’s hot!
Hmm. I like the taste, but not the texture. Apparently I should have chopped the crystallized ginger better.
Magic Bullet to the rescue!
Ahh…silky smooth. I would categorize this as more of a jam than a compote or chutney, but who really cares what it is as long as its delicious.
Up close and personal:
Check out those flecks of vanilla bean! Yummm…
Don’t you just love it when your experiments turn out? I sure do.
What shall we make next, blog friends?