Crumbling in the face of seasonality

My raison d’être in my life as a private chef & corporate event caterer, is to cook simple, delicious, seasonal food for happy customers (and friends alike).  But the seasons they are a-changing and I must go with them.  I was given some strawberries by a friend who came for dinner, and at first, I balked – it’s so early.  Never mind, I accepted them gracefully and as it happens, they were British and did actually taste pretty good.

Seasonal food from my garden

I have two compost bins at the end of my garden, and I’ve just tipped the contents of one over my veg patch, ready to go again for a new veg growing spurt, but more on that another time.  The compost bins are not lonely though, they have a rhubarb plant for company which thrives there.  Yes, I am living the good life, as a good friend commented yesterday when I served them a delicious strawberry & rhubarb crumble. Coming from a restaurant chef background, I have always sneered at plain old rhubarb in favour of the amazing, fluorescent Yorkshire rhubarb but I am coming round to the home grown variety since it’s right there at the end of my garden, just waiting to be plundered.

In the past I have made a rhubarb & strawberry cordial, so this combination is hardly breaking new ground and it’s absolutely delicious.  This strawberry & rhubarb crumble also has a topping with a difference, using coconut oil in place of butter, which is a perfect partner for the sweetness of the strawberries.

How to make strawberry and rhubarb crumble

Find a heavy based pan with tight fitting lid. Soften the rhubarb with a little sugar (well, quite a lot actually) and after a few minutes, add the strawberries, which you have washed thoroughly (to wash off any pesticides).  After a few minutes, they will all be soft and will have yielded a lot of moisture.  I also threw in a slug of a particularly delicious blood orange liqueur and some rhubarb bitters.  To make the topping, toast a generous amount of oats and some almonds which you have pounded in the pestle and mortar in a dry pan until they start to colour.  This means you don’t have to cook the crumble for so long as the fruit is already soft and fragrant with its heady liquor.  When the mixture has cooled slightly, add some sugar (I used coconut sugar), then, to make a change from butter, I also rubbed in some coconut oil, about less than half the amount of oaty mixture. Finish off in the oven at 200oC for about 10-15 minutes.   This makes a crumble with a difference that you will feel much more self-righteous about eating. Serve with greek yoghurt and a smug grin (optional).