The markets have been so satisfying lately.
Colourful, bountiful and summery.
Spring and summer sure do bring some tasty wonders. The Rhubarb in particular has been striking. Those ruby stalks standing out in a green sea of spinach, kale, pak choi and beans, of all strains and colours and shapes and sizes.
I not so secretly wait for rhubarb season every year, dreaming of all the treats will I’ll make.
I’m lucky this year. This year I live on the tail end of the Gold Coast and the Gold Coast hinterland is prized for it’s rhubarb. It has it’s own heritage variety called Mount Tamborine Rhubarb. It has long and scarlet stems that are beautifully colour complimented by it’s green leaves, and when in season can be bought in giant bunches from stalls that randomly dot the roads. The variety was introduced sometime in the 1940’s and has been a mostly close kept secret.
But this week, excitedly not only brought rhubarb bunches but a delivery of Herbies Spice Packets and among them Ground Roasted Wattleseed. Placed somewhere between roasted coffee and Dandelion Root, there is an earthiness to it that has a sweet nuttiness behind it. As with both coffee and Dandelion it will pair well with both sweet and savoury dishes.
The wattleseed is from a plant native to Australia from the Acacia species. Although there are hundreds of varieties of acacia, there are only a few species that can be used for culinary purposes. The spice is relatively new to the commercial market, especially to the everyday home cook, but it is one that we should embrace. If you get the chance to use some, I would highly recommend it, the spice is packed full of nutritive qualities. High in fiber and protein, loaded with nutrients and amino acids, it is also low on the glycemic index.
And so my treasures were destined for each other. To combine and create a harmony worth writing about.
The Rhubarb was to be first pampered with lime and pear cider, before being baked in a low oven to retain as much of it’s structure and I guess integrity as it could. The result is a sweet, sticky flavourful stash of softened rhubarb that would be a worthy addition to any unlively breakfast or cake recipe.
Then it was time for the stars to shine, with the combination of the Baked Rhubarb, the wattleseed into a Friand, based on hazelnut meal as well as the traditional almond meal.
Dusted with icing sugar and some fresh lime zest they were light and earthy and sweet and hot from the oven. I was happy. That is until 2 insatiable Labradors broke into the house and devoured the whole lot whilst my back was turned. I cried. Then I got out my baking trays and made them again.
Pear Cider and Lime Baked Rhubarb
1 bunch Rhubarb (approx 400gm)
2 Tbsp Pear Cider
Zest 1 Lime
2 tbsp Caster Sugar
Oven preheated to 140C
Cut rhubarb into 3cm lengths
In a shallow roasting tin place the rhubarb in a single layer.
Evenly sprinkle over caster sugar, lime zest and pear cider.
Cover the roasting tin with foil and place in the middle of the oven.
Roast for 30 minutes covered or until slightly soft, then roast uncover for 10 mins.
Remove from the oven and cool.
Rhubarb, Hazelnut and Wattle Seed Friands
1 batch Baked Rhubarb (recipe above)
1/3 cup plain Gluten Free flour
1 2/3 cup Icing Sugar
3/4 cup Hazelnut meal
3/4 cup almond meal
1 tsp ground wattle seed
5 egg whites
170g butter (melted and slightly cooled)
Zest of lime and extra icing sugar for serving
Preheat oven to 170C (fan forced) and grease a friand pan.
Sieve the Gluten free flour, both nut meals, icing sugar and wattle seed into a bowl.
Inn a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until just foaming.
Add the butter to the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
Next add the eggs and fold gently until incorporated.
Fill the friand or muffin tin to no more than 1/2 full. Top each friand with 1 or 2 lengths of the baked rhubarb.
Place into the center of the oven and bake for 25 – 30 minutes.
Leave to cool in tin for 15 minutes before turning out.
The wattle seed are available at specialty spice shops. I got mine from Herbies spices I highly recommend them. Check them online.
If you can’t find Wattleseed replace with roasted ground coffee or roasted and ground Dandelion Root (available from health food shops or good supermarkets).
If you don’t have rhubarb substitute with a few frozen raspberries or some halved strawberries.
Hazelnut meal can be purchased at good supermarkets and online, or you could make your own by pulsing hazelnuts in a food processor until a fine crumb.
Don’t be tempted to over cook the friands. You wan them just cooked so they retain their moist crumb.
Don’t waste those precious egg yolks try these recipes