At last I can break the news (well, close friends and relatives have put up with months of my banging on about it already) I have a new cook book coming out in May.
It’s all about getting children into the kitchen cooking REAL food. Imi and her friends have been my very willing guinea pigs as we regularly cooked supper at our “Monday Night Cooking Club”. It struck me that that whilst it’s fun to bake cupcakes and ice dainty biscuits Imi and her 9 year old mates were just as excited about rolling meatballs or making a Minestrone. We all know that children are much more adventurous about food if they get involved with the cooking and who needs encouragement when it comes to scoffing meringues? We need to get them excited about the good stuff. Don’t panic; there are recipes for tasty muffins, a basic cake that can be whipped up into all sort of different flavours and other sweet treats (any whiff of worthiness and we’ve lost the audience anyway) but the recipes are weighted towards healthy, proper food.
The book is aimed at 7-14 year olds (although quite a few adults have expressed an interest), there are step by step photos, fab’ illustrations, cheesy jokes and a selection of recipes that will set them up for life. I love to see children experiment and get excited about adding their own touches or favourite ingredients so the recipes have variations and suggestions to kickstart their imaginations. So do look out for it, shout about it, purchase numerous copies ( almost goes without saying) and get those young’uns into the kitchen; you may even be able to put your feet up whilst someone else cooks supper from time to time.
So that’s the pitch over and done with, now for the recipe…Crumble does appear in the book, with variations, it’s formatted in a fabulous child-friendly way – you’ll have to wait and see (if I reproduced the page I’d be in terrible trouble). Imi made this last weekend when we had some friends around for lunch, it was great to delegate the pudding to her – less work for me and a great sense of achievement for her
Rhubarb, Rose Water Crumble
The crumble combination was inspired by an instagram post from the fabulous garden and food writer Lia Leendertz, who was making a rhubarb rosewater tart. Reg the Veg was selling (and still is) glorious forced Yorkshire rhubarb, we happened to have 1/2 a bag of pistachios lurking in the cupboard and so this variation of the basic crumble was born.
You’ll need an ovenproof dish about 25 cm square and 5cm/2 inches deep
Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/ Gas mark 6
The Crunchy Top
140 g/5 oz chilled butter
200 g/7 oz plain flour
pinch of salt
100 g /3 1/2 0z caster sugar, light brown Muscovado sugar or a mix of the two
a handful of chopped pistachios
Chop the cold butter into small squares and drop them into a large mixing bowl with the flour and salt.
Give everything a quick stir with your hands and then rub the pieces of butter into the flour using your finger tips. Try to use your finger tips; your palms are hot and will melt the butter making greasy, stodgy crumble.
Once the mixture looks like breadcrumbs, with no big lumps of butter you can stir the sugar and nuts in with a spoon.
Put the crumble mixture into the fridge whilst you prepare the filling.
900 g/2lb rhubarb
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp ground almonds
1-2 tbsp rosewater
Cut the leaves and any ragged ends from the rhubarb and then chop into logs.
Sprinkle the ground almonds into the bottom of the ovenproof dish. Lay the rhubarb over the top, scatter over the sugar and sprinkle with rosewater – don’t go overboard or the entire dish can seem a bit bubble-bathy .
Spoon the crumble mix over the fruit and bake in the oven for 30 minutes until golden.
Serve crumble with vanilla ice cream, cream or custard