I never get tired of the movies, and even though we have them on DVD, any time I'm flipping channels and one happens to be playing, I have to tune in to that channel, even if it's just to listen to in the background. I think that the Sorcerer's Stone and the Half-Blood Prince are my favorites (although their escape from and subsequent rescue of the captive dragon from Gringotts in The Deathly Hallows tops my list of favorite scenes), and even after seeing them dozens of times, I still tear up every time Harry gazes out the window of his bedroom his first night in the castle and feels happy and at home for the first time in his life.
It always seems to be Christmas, too, in Harry Potter world, which makes me adore the stories even more. And because my husband knows me so well, for Christmas he gave me this, The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook. There are so many tempting, from-scratch English recipes for foods that were featured throughout the books, and they're accompanied by fun little quotes or excerpts from that particular chapter, which remind me again of just how much more detail the books contain that the movies don't.
One recipe that stood out to me right away, and was the first one we tried, was for Rhubarb Crumble with Custard...
My husband loves rhubarb desserts, and coincidentally enough, after we bought our house two winters ago, we discovered a rhubarb plant growing in the backyard when all the snow melted and spring came. That plant is so hardy, that no amount of late spring snow can hurt it, and it thrives regardless. So in the summer, I make rhubarb jam, pies, tarts, cookie bars, cakes, and even ice cream and sorbets with our fresh rhubarb, often pairing it with strawberries, and freeze the rest to use throughout the winter.
Something I believe that the English do exceptionally well is custard. And with their affinity for custard, they serve it up far more frequently than would occur to me to do, because really, when have you ever been served a side of custard with your cake or fruit crumble or pie instead of ice cream or whipped cream?
Since custard is essentially an unchurned ice cream base, it really does pair perfectly with anything that you might top with a scoop of ice cream. It's silky and just a little sweet, and would be lovely with fresh vanilla bean added instead of the extract. One thing is for sure, though - we're going to be eating a lot more custard with our cake.
Rhubarb Crumble and Custard
- 1 1/2 pounds frozen, chopped rhubarb
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup oats
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 1/4 cup cream
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
Baker's Note: I made a few modifications (improvements, in my opinion) to the author's recipe, but one ingredient I found interesting and unusual, and did not change. The author notes that the baking soda in the rhubarb filling helps to neutralize the acidity of the rhubarb, making it less tart and more palatable, perhaps so that you can get by with less sugar than if no baking soda were added. This is something I need to research further.
Preheat the oven to 350 and spray a deep dish pie pan or 8x8 baking dish with non-stick spray. Toss all the filling ingredients together and spread into the pan. Bake for 10 minutes while you make the crumble topping.
Use a pastry cutter to combine all the topping ingredients in a large bowl until moist and crumbly. Stir up the rhubarb filling, sprinkle the crumble topping over the fruit, and bake for 45-50 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
Meanwhile, make the custard. In a saucepan whisk together the sugar, salt and cornstarch. Gradually whisk in the milk and cream, then the egg yolks. Over medium heat, cook the custard, while whisking constantly, until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla and butter. The custard can be served warm, but I prefer it chilled. The cool, creamy custard spooned over the hot crumble is lovely.
Recipe adapted from The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz