I was disorganised for yesterday’s visit to the local weekend produce markets, going with nary a recipe in mind. All I had was random enthusiasm for fruit and vegies. I’m happy to report that this haphazard approach worked just fine, soI think I may need to just relax about the list-based market shopping and go with what is there and looks good.

My friend and I found lots of wonderfully inspiring fruit and veg (which I hope to post about in coming days), enjoyed the gentle morning market buzz, and warmed ourselves with a coffee and freshly made stroopwafel. We each came home with a bunch of gorgeous rhubarb which, apart from having the most gorgeous stalks in the plant world, uniquely gives the opportunity to eat vegetables for dessert!

I couldn’t wait to eat our market rhubarb, so the very same night we poached it with cardamom and mandarin.

It may sound a bit fancy, but rhubarb and mandarins are both in season right now so are good and abundant. This poaching method is great, too, as it softens the rhubarb just enough to eat, but allows the stalks to retain their shape rather than turning into a fibrous mess. I loved the warm flavours of this recipe, and next time I think I’ll throw in a cinnamon stick as well.

Cardamom and mandarin poached rhubarb
Adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller

1 bunch rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 5cm lengths
1 cup caster sugar
1 mandarin
4 cardamom pods, crushed with the blade of a knife
1 vanilla bean

First prepare the poaching syrup. Cut the mandarin in half and juice it. Place the juice in a medium saucepan. Scrape out the pith and pulp from the mandarin halves and discard, and place the skins in the saucepan. Add the sugar, vanilla, cardamom and 1 1/2 cups water to the saucepan, and bring gently to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.

Remove the cardamom pods and mandarin skins and any pith or pulp. Tip in the rhubarb pieces and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to sit for about 15-20 minutes to soften before serving.

Serve with custard or ice cream.

Yield: serves 4