I’ve found the perfect jug. Designed by Emma Lacey, it has a thumb-sized dimple in just the right place. Pick it up and it feels as solid, safe and simple as a pair of sturdy shoes, brown bread and butter, a picnic on the beach or rhubarb and custard.
Serendipity is both a fantastic word and a brilliant concept. My new jug had already made me think of rhubarb and custard – serendipity sorted things out so that I got to eat it too. My very clever friend, the one who knows how to grow things and even better loves giving them away, left a basket of home-grown rhubarb and a batch of her hens’ eggs on the doorstep this morning.
It’s virtually a ready-meal from the supermarket – the contents of the basket are more than three quarters of the way to being a bowl of baked rhubarb and vanilla custard. And that is what they became….
Rhubarb Baked With Cardamon and Kaffir Lime Leaf and Served With Vanilla Custard
Serves 3 or 4
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C
600g rhubarb cut into slices
2 tablespoons sugar
5 or 6 cardamon pods
1 kaffir lime leaf
Zest and juice of a tangerine
6 egg yolks
125g caster sugar
600 ml milk
One vanilla pod
Combine the rhubarb with the tangerine zest and juice, 2 tablespoons of sugar, the cardamon pods and the kaffir lime leaf and spread out in a shallow ovenproof dish. I had been planning to add a star anise to the dish instead, but spotted the lime leaves and the cardamon pods in the cupboard first. I discovered that they brought a delicious zingy perfume to the rhubarb – another dose of serendipity as it turned out. Bake for 25 minutes until soft but not mushy.
To make the custard, whisk the yolks with the sugar until pale and glossy. Warm the milk with the vanilla pod to boiling point. Add the milk to the egg mixture. Tip back into a clean pan and stir over a low heat until the custard starts to thicken slightly. Don’t stop stirring and don’t let the custard overheat.
Heap the rhubarb on a plate, add a generous puddle of custard and you will be as far away from school dinner rhubarb and custard as it is possible to be. And that too is serendipitous.