Poached Rhubarb with Stem Ginger Ice Cream

Sarah Raven's Garden CookbookFans of BBC’s Gardeners’ World will be familiar with Sarah Raven’s magnificent garden, and this remarkable gardener (who always seems to be immaculately dressed – in a skirt!) was also a guest tutor at Ballymaloe Cookery School earlier this year.

The stunning seasonal Sarah Raven’s Garden Cookbook (Bloomsbury, £30) makes an ideal companion for her earlier book The Great Vegetable Plot, and will surely inspire the most jaded cook to grow and cook, or at least to shop in season. Tender early stems of rhubarb are perfect for this recipe, although it can be made all season; rhubarb is one of the easiest crops to grow and it’s well worth finding a corner where you can leave a clump to get on with it, with very little attention needed from you. Just a little treacly muscovado sugar is enough to retain the slight sourness to contrast with the sweet ice cream.

Poached Rhubard with Stem Ginger Ice CreamFor 10:

Juice and grated zest of 3 oranges
2 tablespoons muscovado sugar
3 star anise
6 rhubarb stems (about 800g/13/4 lb)
4cm piece of ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
For the ice cream:
568ml/1 pint milk
100g/ scant 4oz caster sugar
Few drops of good vanilla extract
220g/scant 8oz sweetened condensed milk
Pinch of salt
475ml/3/4 pint whipping or double cream
6 pieces of stem ginger, finely chopped
2 tablespoons ginger syrup

1. First make the ice cream. Heat the milk with the sugar and vanilla, and bring to boiling point. Remove from the heat and cool. Add the condensed milk, salt, cream, chopped ginger and its syrup.

2. If you have an ice cream maker, freeze/churn the mixture for 20 minutes; if you don't, put it into a plastic container and freeze, breaking up the ice particles a couple of times with a fork at 2-hour intervals.

3. Preheat the oven to 190º/gas mark 5.  While it heats, warm the orange juice in a pan and melt the sugar, then add the star anise. Cut the rhubarb into sections the length of your thumb and lay them in a shallow heatproof dish, almost touching. Pour the warm liquid over the rhubarb and scatter over the orange zest and ginger.

4. Cover and bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes. The stems will then keep their shape. Serve with a couple of balls of the ice cream.

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