Mark Hix’s simple seasonal dinner party menu

One of my dad’s friends used to always tell me about his mother making Champagne rhubarb. It puzzled me for years what he meant as people never used to drink much Champagne in Dorset, let alone put it in a dessert.

Well, it turned out that he was talking about Champagne and rhubarb jelly. What a great thing to do with rhubarb. (I should point out there is also, of course, a variety of the stems actually called Champagne rhubarb.) When I finally remembered to make the dish, I thought about some of the fantastic sparkling wine producers we have – Rob Corbett’s Castlewood vineyard is one of my favourites and it’s on our doorstep.

I’ve used individual savarin moulds for the jellies so ice cream or cream sits perfectly in the middle without sliding around (you may remember something like this I did on Great British Menu years ago).

Timings

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes, plus chilling time

Serves 

4

Ingredients

  • 200g red rhubarb stems, trimmed
  • 100g granulated or caster sugar
  • 4 gelatin leaves (12g)
  • 500ml sparkling wine (I use Castlewood)

Method

  1. Cut the rhubarb into 1cm dice. Put the sugar in a saucepan with roughly enough water to cover the rhubarb, bring to the boil, add the rhubarb and simmer for about a minute or so, until the rhubarb is just cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper, keeping the liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, immerse the gelatin leaves one at a time in a shallow bowl of cold water and leave for a minute or so until soft, then squeeze them out.
  3. Heat 100ml of the cooking liquid back up, remove from the heat and stir in the gelatin leaves until dissolved. Add the sparkling wine and put the pan of jelly somewhere cool, but do not let it set.
  4. Divide half the rhubarb among four individual jelly moulds, cups or serving glasses, followed by half the cooled jelly. Chill for an hour or so to set, then top up with the rest of the rhubarb and unset jelly. (This ensures the rhubarb doesn’t all float to the top.) Return to the fridge to chill until set.
  5. To serve, dip the moulds briefly into hot water and turn out on to serving plates. Serve the jellies with thick cream or ice cream.

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