Rhubarb is generally first to peep its head from the soil in my garden, and after a winter long fruit-free season the rhubarb is rightfully met with a wondrous welcome. Rhubarb is perfectly suited to Irish soil and it is terribly easy to grow. I’d urge any rhubarb fans to plant a few stalks. You won’t get to use it this year, but you will reap the benefits from these few stalks for many years to come. Our rhubarb season will soon be coming to an end, but I, for one, am still celebrating its deliciousness, by including it in our diet as many ways as possible. I recently made my first batch of rhubarb chutney. Though it won't be at its peak of flavour for a few months to come, I was rather impressed with how suitable an ingredient it was for a savory preserve. The element of tartness from the rhubarb allows it to match quite well with a chunk of strong cheddar. My yearly stash of rhubarb jam is also made and stored away for slathering over some brown bread, scones or as a filler for a nice cream sponge. That's the thing with rhubarb; it's just so versatile.

The recipe I'm sharing with you today is one that evolved from a simple pot of stewed rhubarb, which was intended to be paired with some custard, but upon finding a pot of cream in the fridge it took a little turn and developed into a rhubarb fool. To serve, I simply popped it into serving bowls and sprinkled over crushed gingernuts, but for a fancier option, layer the fool along with the crushed gingernuts into a cocktail glass, chill in fridge and dust with some icing sugar just before serving. Whatever way it is served, it makes a very tasty, seasonal dessert.

Rhubarb & Vanilla Fool with a Gingernut Crunch

serves 4
250g rhubarb, sliced
75g granulated sugar
25mls water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
80mls cream
1 tsp icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
75g gingernut biscuits

  1. Place the rhubarb, sugar and water into a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir through 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool completely.
  2. In a large bowl, gently whip the cream and fold in the icing sugar and vanilla extract. Add the cooled stewed rhubarb and stir to combine. Transfer into four serving bowls.
  3. Place the gingernuts into a small plastic freezer bag and with a rolling pin give it a few whacks until they are crushed. Divide the crushed gingernuts between the four bowls of fool. Top with a mint leaf and dust with a little icing sugar.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the launch of a charity cookbook in Kilcormac. The book was compiled, styled and photographed by the fifth and sixth class students of Ballyboy N.S. and their wonderfully enthusiastic teacher Michelle Egan. As I flicked through this little book it stuck a cord with me. Each and every recipe has been included for a reason. One of the young men included his granny's eclair recipe, as everyone in parish has tasted these eclairs through the years, and they are loved near and far. There is a Christmas cake recipe which has been passed through three generations of a family. There is also a recipe from a young girl, for a Mars bar biscuit cake, as it's one that she has memories of making with her late aunt. This is what makes a book like this ever so special. Each recipe earns it's place due to the memories it accumulates.

The children on the day of the launch were full of pride, and so they should be. They have created something so special that will have a treasured place in their kitchen and in the community for ever more, while also earning a significant amount of money for their twin school in Ewuaso, Kenya. What a wonderful, inclusive fundraiser for any primary school. I for one will be mentioning it at my children's school as a possible fundraiser for the next school year. The title of the book is 'Recipes & Remedies' and is available to purchase in shops in and around Kilcormac, but it is also available from the school's website

In other news

In the next instalment of my 'Home Nurse' column, in Irish Country Living, I'm discussing morning sickness. This will run in next week's Farmers Journal, 21st May.
In this week's Westmeath Independent I've included a delicious, one pot beef dish, perfect for entering a crowd.
Also, in this month's Easy Parenting my column and recipes are focused on healthy dishes in a hurry. It's in shops now.
Apron Strings is available to buy in shops nationwide, but it is currently for sale for €15 from New Island

Have a great weekend.

Nessa x