Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Organic Gems

In a recent bid to eat healthier, I finally gave in to my better (financial) judgement and decided to go organic (well, as organic as I can afford and is possible here, that is). My friend put me in touch with Elena from Red Gum Organics and now, every Thursday, a boxful of organic fruit and vegetables arrives at my door. Besides the known and obvious benefits of organic produce — no pesticides, no steriods, etc, etc, etc — going organic in this manner essentially forces one to find creative ways to cook whatever's at your door before they expire. Before you know it, you've also reached more than your usual daily quota of fruit and fibre.

Another upside to this arrangement is that Elena imports her produce from Australia, which means very often her list will include fruit and veg uncommon to Singapore, including jerusalem artichoke, passionfruit and rhubarb. These I buy up with glee, mostly because it forces me to rifle through my cookbooks and attempt recipes I normally wouldn't.

When it comes to finding recipes for rhubarb, one name on my bookshelf springs to mind. Nigella Lawson is the queen of bright and splashy produce. Stumped for ideas with clementines, pomegranate, peas or watermelon? The domestic goddess herself has them all in her books—if only, I suspect, so she can wax lyrical about their "gorgeous colours" and refer to them as "jewels" or "gems".

Anyway, with my stash of beautiful organic rhubarb, I made a Rhubarb Meringue Pie from Nigella's How To Eat. If you're going to attempt this in an 8-inch pan as Ms Lawson suggests, then I suggest you halve the quantity of the rhubarb and egg filling mix. The 650g of rhubarb was enough to fill two pies, which actually, was a good thing, because the recipe leaves out cooking temperatures for the filling and the meringue top. The only temperature instruction in that recipe appears when she calls for you to preheat the oven to 200 degrees for the pastry.

Essentially, you bake the pie shell blind and when it is cool, fill it with the rhubarb, egg and sugar mixture and bake till that is set. Then you whisk the egg whites with sugar and cream of tartare to make your meringue and bake that. Now, if you bake everything at a steady 200 degrees Celsius, what you'll get is pastry that is one minute from burnt and a bronze meringue that slices to a runny, watery inside that tastes of uncooked eggwhites. At least that's what I got even though I turned down the heat to 180 degrees when cooking the meringue and filling. Luckily there was still enough rhubard mix to fill another pie, so the next day, I tried again.

The pastry is dead easy to make — in fact, Nigella's recipe for pastry is quite foolproof. Measure out butter and flour in a bowl and freeze it for 20 minutes before blitzing in a food processor and binding with a bit of liquid. I got excellent, easy-to-handle flaky pastry every time. This time I baked the rhubarb mix at 180 degrees and the meringue top at 160 degrees. The results were far better. Even my cat, Flash, agrees.


Blogger Bron said...

Yum! I adore meringue pies, have never made a rhubarb version however, sounds delicious!

12:02 pm  
Blogger Precious Moments said...

ooooo! your kitty pix is really nice. I really love it.

9:52 pm  
Anonymous bea at La Tartine Gourmande said...

yum. Looks really nice. I love rhubarb!

8:42 pm  
Blogger Krithika said...

Your kitty pic looks adorable.

9:36 pm  
Blogger J said...

hiya, thanks so much for sharing red gum - bust goes my ever-escalating grocery budget ;p

lovely rhubarb montage! funnily, whenever i see pomegranate or rhubarb, i immediately think of nigella lawson. must be that puce episode of the show - who else can get away with actually mouthing the word 'puce' to describe the colour of macerated onions!

9:51 pm  
Blogger shaz said...

I once had a rhubarb and strawberry crumble when I was a teen as was so taken by it. I was totally blown away! I think it opened up a whole new gourmet side of me. :)

10:13 pm  
Blogger Gustad said...

kitties gotta eat good food too!

11:17 pm  
Blogger lobstersquad said...

that looks gorgeous. The organic box thing hasn´t quite taken off here. And we never, ever, get rhubarb. Been wanting to make that recipe of Nigella for ages, and now, all the more.

3:25 pm  
Blogger fooDcrazEE said...

love Flash's expression...lolz

3:42 pm  
Blogger boo_licious said...

I wish we had something like this in KL as I love rhubarb. It was always my fav dessert in UK. Absolutely love Flash's expression.

11:05 am  
Blogger Fanny said...

You picture are SO beautiful. And this rubarb meringue just looks delicious.


PS what a lovely cat!

3:39 pm  
Blogger Mary said...

Flash is so cute! And the pie isn't half bad either. =)

3:49 am  
Blogger May said...

Rest assured the extra money you pay for organic produce does, over time, deliver a priceless state of improved wellbeing. And it tastes so much better. You don't necessarily notice the taste factor at first but try going back to conventional produce after six months eating organic and you'll be astounded by the difference.

Re rhubarb: There's a recipe I rather fancy on Seattle blog Orangette. Molly oven-poaches it with orange zest and (an obscene amount of) sugar. Her recipe calls for more than a cup but I've found a half cup is sufficient. If you've a tarty tooth, then you could reduce that quantity further still.

5:47 am  
Blogger foodkitty said...

Flash is cute. I test recipes on my kitty Mia too.
I had to laugh when bloggers said they had trouble getting rhubarb. I do too, but a friend recently moved into a new house and complained about all the weeds in the back garden. They were rhubarb, chard and sorrel!!!

11:45 am  
Blogger Eggy said...

Hey everyone, thanks for dropping by and for the wonderful comments. Flash thanks you for all the compliments too — he's quite the vain bugger.

May, thanks for the heads up on Orangette's recipe. I'll try it out next time I get a batch of rhubarb.

Foodkitty, Hobart (and Tasmania in general) is one of my most favourite places in the world. Any suggestions on what to do with chard? I've got a couple from the organic box and don't know yet what to do with them.

12:23 pm  
Blogger Colin said...

Dear fellow food bloggers,

It's been a year (almost) since the last food bloggers' gathering. I'm trying to organise another meal for the food bloggers on the 26th August, Saturday, 7.30pm, venue to be confirmed.

Would you be interested in attending? Please email your reply to me,, as soon as possible.

Best regards,
Colin Liew

12:19 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Wow! that is impressive!

2:39 am  
Blogger Abster said...

Feed me too, will you...?

I don't think I've ever tasted rhubarb. They're not available locally. :(

8:23 pm  
Anonymous keiko said...

your cat is absolutely beautiful :)

6:05 pm  
Blogger foodkitty said...

Hi eggy
re chard
I clean, steam and stir in cream and nutmeg - lazy kitty, but why mess with fabulous simplicity?

3:11 pm  
Blogger Franco said...


5:20 pm  

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