The Feast

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Apparently forced rhubarb grows so quickly that you can actually hear it. It’s available early in the year and usually comes from the rhubarb triangle in west Yorkshire. The forced variety, grown in the dark with heat, tends to be the sweetest and most tender. With exposure to light, the stems become tougher and tarter.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

For the Rhubarb:

Juice and Zest of 3 oranges, 5 rhubarb stems, 3cm piece of stem ginger (thinly sliced), 2 tablespoons of muscovado sugar

For the Cream:

300ml double cream, 3 tablespoons of Grand Marnier (or white wine), 100g caster sugar

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Preheat the oven to 190C. Warm the orange juice in a pan and melt the sugar. Cut the rhubarb stems into 4cm long chunks and arrange in a shallow oven-proof dish. Pour the warm liquid over the the rhubarb and scatter over the orange zest and ginger. Cover and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, Beat the cream, caster sugar and Grand Marnier in a bowl until thick and creamy.

Serve the cream with the rhubarb, a drizzle of the juice and a sprinkle of toasted almonds.

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This is a savoury version of the classic french heart. It’s the perfect pre-dinner nibble and even better when served with a glass of champagne. I sometimes like to make a double batch, freezing half of the log, which can then be sliced and baked when unexpected visitors arrive.

Ingredients (makes about 35)

300g Puff Pastry, 2 tablespoons of of grainy mustard, 3 handfuls of gruyere (or a similar strong hard cheese)

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Roll the pastry into a rectangle about half a centimetre in thickness. Spread the mustard over the pastry, making sure to reach all the corners. sprinkle over the cheese. Take one side of the rectangle and roll into the centre and do the same with the other side. Wrap the log tightly in cling film and place in the fridge to chill for half an hour or so. When its ready, slice the log into roughly 35 one centimetre slices, and place on a baking tray.

Bake the Palmiers for 10 minutes, until golden brown. They are best served slightly warm.

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