In my experience it’s hard, when you visit or live in different places, not to compare things like the weather, the food and the people and their ways of doing things with what you’re used to.
I remember when I first went to live in Greece, for instance, wondering why strangers didn’t find it rude to stare or ask you how much you earned or whether you were married or not. In Spain I wondered how people stayed up all night long (children included) at some fiesta or other, how the Thais smiled and stayed calm even when they couldn’t possibly be happy and how the French could sit for hours over dinner while intelligently discussing politics or current affairs (and yes, without seemingly putting on any weight). All clichés, in a way, but no less true.
Above all, though, I’ve always tried (but sometimes failed) to appreciate first the good things about a place, and enjoy them while I’m there. When I move on, I then try not to bemoan the loss of the things I loved in that place too much, and instead focus on what’s good and exciting about the new place I find myself in. (Just as I didn’t moan at all about England’s changeable weather not particularly helping my photography in my last post. Oh no, not even the tiniest little bit. ;- )
So please humour me by allowing me to tell you something that I’m enjoying about the place that I happen to be in right now. At the moment we’re staying with my parents who have a lovely suburban garden with a greenhouse full of tomatoes and … a rhubarb patch! During all those years I was living in Greece, maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough but I didn’t see a single stick of rhubarb. So when I heard my dad ‘grumble’ the other day that the rhubarb was getting too big, my ears pricked up. Well, what a shame. Someone needed to pick some of the rhubarb and make something with it. I wonder who might like to do that. ‘Oh, I’ll make something if you like,’ I said, as nonchalantly as I could.
So that’s how these rhubarb & ginger oaty slices came into being. I remember seeing something a little similar made with raspberries, and I loved the ‘rhubarb crumble and custard’ that we Brits know so well when I was a child. I also loved a sort of chewy, oaty slice that we call ‘flapjack’, so I decided to see if I could come up with something that was a kind of cross between a rhubarb crumble and a rhubarb flapjack. And I think I actually got it about right first time.
These oaty slices were insanely easy to make. After picking some rhubarb (yes, I did say after picking it! You can’t imagine how satisfying that was after living in a flat with no garden for years), chopping off the leaves and cutting it into pieces, I took a moment to take in the unique and beautiful scent of the freshly cut fruit (which so reminded me of dipping raw rhubarb sticks into sugar as a child!) then cooked it for about ten minutes with a little brown sugar. To make my oat mixture I melted a little butter and brown sugar and plenty of honey together before adding oats, ground almonds and ground ginger. Finally I assembled everything by pressing two thirds of the oat mixture into the bottom of a baking tray, spreading the cooked-down rhubarb on top, and sprinking the rest of the oat mixture on top of that. Then into the oven it went.
The finished result was, as I said, just what I’d been aiming for; as you take a bite there’s the crumbly, oaty top, then the beautiful rhubarb gets your taste buds singing as only rhubarb does. Finally, there’s the slightly chewy flapjack-y layer on the bottom.
I shared this dessert with my family, of course, but I’ll let you into a secret. I’ve shown it served with a ball of ice cream in the picture below, but we actually ate our oaty slices with custard, a hot creamy vanilla sauce that may well not be very well known in your country (if you ever get a chance to try it, though, please do, as it’s delicious). Don’t worry, though. For ‘testing’ purposes, my mum and I also sampled the slice I photographed with ice cream, and that was scrumptious, too. Finally, my dad took the last of the slices to work with him two days later and declared that they were just as delicious cold and on their own. So, enjoy these warm or cold with ice cream, cream or custard or just by themselves. Both myself and my family assure you that they are very tasty devoured any of these ways!
If you live in a place where you can’t easily find rhubarb, you could go ahead and try these with berries (just don’t cook them first) or really any other fruit. Please let me know how they turn out if you do try that.
OK, so here’s the recipe. Enjoy!
Serves: 8 large or 16 smaller slices
- about 4 full-size ‘stalks’/500 grams fresh rhubarb, chopped into 1-cm pieces
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ⅔ stick/80 grams butter
- ¼ cup/50 grams brown sugar
- 3½ tablespooons/75 grams clear honey
- 2½ cups/225 grams gluten-free rolled oats
- 1 cup/100 grams ground almonds
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- custard, ice cream or cream, to serve (optional)
- Pre-heat the oven to 410F/210C and line a 7 by 10 inch baking tray (or an 8 by 8 inch square pan with baking paper.
- Heat the rhubarb and sugar in a large pan with 1 tablespoon water for 10 minutes until cooked down but with some pieces of rhubarb still whole. Set aside.
- In another pan, melt the butter, sugar and honey, then take off the heat and stir in the oats, ground almonds and ginger until all the oats are well coated.
- Spoon two thirds of the oaty mixture into the baking tray and press down well with the back of a metal spoon. Spread the rhubarb over the oats, then sprinkle the rest of the oaty mixture over the top.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the oats are golden brown. Leave to cool before cutting into slices or serve while still slightly warm with custard, ice cream or cream. Will keep in an air-tight container in the fridge for a few days.
Adding a teaspoon of ground ginger gives a nice subtle taste of ginger. Add a little more ginger for a deeper gingery flavour if you like.
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