Next Tuesday, April 21st is starting to feel portentous. It's the release date of the new cookbook by Tara O'Brady from Seven Spoons. Tara explains on the site that it's also her birthday. Guess who else's birthday it is? Besides the queen's real birthday? Mine! Very same date!
So with all this birthdaying, I thought I'd celebrate with the first rhubarb harvest from the garden and a cocktail from O'Brady.
Rhubarb Ginger Gin Gimlet
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
12 ounces (340 g) rhubarb, chopped into chunks
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
1-inch (2.5 cm) knob of ginger, unpeeled and sliced into quarters
8 lime wedges
16 ounces (500 ml) gin
8 ounces (250 ml) ginger ale
- To make the syrup, sprinkle the sugar over the rhubarb in a heavy saucepan. Macerate at room temperature for 30 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the water and ginger, with a few gentle stirs. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to maintain a simmer until the rhubarb has collapsed and the juices are thick, about 12 minutes. Discard the ginger, then strain the syrup into a clean pitcher through a fine-meshed strainer - fork through the solids to release any trapped juice, but resist the temptation to press on the stalks or the syrup will be irrevocably clouded. Set aside the rhubarb for another use. If there is more than one cup (250 ml) syrup, return it to the saucepan and reduce over low heat until it is 1 cup, then cool. Refrigerate the syrup until cold.
- To make each cocktail, in the glass of your choice, pour 1 ounce (30 ml) rhubarb syrup. Squeeze in the juice from a lime wedge, then drop in the rind. Add a handful of ice, pour 2 ounces (60 ml) of gin over, and give everything a spin with a swizzle stick or spoon. Top up with 1 ounce (30 ml) of ginger ale. Cheers.
The recipe provided here isn't exactly how it is written in the book; the original recipe is for Rhubarb Rose Gin Gimlet but O'Brady provides this version as an alternative - replacing the rosewater with fresh ginger and Prosecco with ginger ale.
The amount of syrup I ended up with is absolutely no where near enough for eight people. Perhaps my early-season rhubarb isn't as juicy so didn't generate enough liquid during the maceration? It was still rich in color and flavour, though, so I would definitely recommend at least doubling the syrup ingredients. If the ginger drink you have on hand happens to be Fever Tree's ginger beer (rather than ginger ale), as I always use - or is of a similarly potent strength - you may wish to skip the fresh ginger in the syrup, as the beer and fresh ginger combined may well overwhelm the more delicate flavour of the rhubarb. As I usually do, I used Jack Rabbit Gin. It frolicked beautifully with the fresh spring flavours here. I may have just been a bit sensitive to the alcohol this evening, but the gin was the strongest contender in the glass, so I did splash a bit more ginger beer on top. I'm excited to try this cocktail again, in the Rose version, when I pick up some Prosecco.
Now that I've imparted the invaluable boozy bits, about the cookbook itself.
As you can see from the cover above, the photographs are elegant, simple, delicious. I find the pantry-stocking-section to be quite long, though I'm inclined to skim/skip over these sections in almost all cookbooks since my enthusiasm for cooking inclines me towards a very well stocked pantry already. O'Brady shares warm stories about how her cooking skills and interests have evolved along with her family. Each recipe comes with a story and detailed instructions. I'm inclined to skim instructions that assume the reader doesn't know precisely how to chop a carrot, but O'Brady's instructions are valuable, explaining why she does what she does and how it affects the outcome. This is particularly helpful when baking. The final section of the book includes DIY basics for some ingredients found throughout the recipes, like labneh, pickled jalapenos, harissa, creme fraiche, and paneer.
There are shadows of Mexican food influences and more concrete groundings in Eastern and Middle Eastern flavours. If I weren't planning my own birthday week out, I would likely have made the Everyday Yellow Dal this week, though it's definitely up next on the list of what I'd like to cook from this new beautiful cookbook.
I have a tendency to judge a cookbook (and decide whether to buy it) based on how many recipes I get excited about making when I browse through it for the first time. Though this book hasn't yet enticed me with the somewhere around 80%+ bar of an auto-buy (not all that many books are that high, though, to be honest), it's certainly creeping up there. I'm excited to try the Broccoli Rabe with Bagna Cauda, Blitzed Ricotta with Peas, Baked Eggs, North Indian Style, My Best Biscuits, and Pickled Strawberry Preserves along with easily another half dozen recipes.
And Cheers to Tara and Elizabeth!
*Advanced review copy provided by Random House/Ten Speed Press.