Rhubarb and Custard

I was raised on Bird’s custard, that ready to go powdered custard mix, and I have to say, I still love it. I get upset when I’m not called to come lick the saucepan clean. The Mammy often adds a splash of almond essence to it which is lovely. It always has that great consistency: thick and gloopy. And if you leave it for a few minutes to cool in the bowl, it develops a skin – yum!

But today, boys and girls, I am making my own custard. It’s just egg yolks, milk and sugar. You can add vanilla essence or be a posh smarty-pants and use a vanilla pod. I’m going to be a smarty-pants today because guess what I found lurking in the cupboard! There are few things more exciting to me than cutting a vanilla pod down the middle and scraping out the seeds. It is akin to the first time I removed the silky fibres from a fresh ear of corn: magic!

Custard and stewed fruit, what a comforting little combo. I’m a big fan of rhubarb and I do my best to convert more people every day but it’s difficult: there’s no way to make stewed rhubarb sound appealing or look appealing. Fact. I once tried to explain the concept of rhubarb to a girl who had never tasted rhubarb, never cooked with it and wasn’t sure if she wanted to. I doubt I convinced her (it’s tart, it’s mushy, it’s got all stringy fibrous bits that won’t go away no matter how much you cook it!). And beware, if buying fresh rhubarb, make sure to remove the leaves: they’re poisonous!

I unearthed a pack of frozen rhubarb from the freezer so I just cooked them for about 10mins with some sugar (let’s say it was 4 Cups of rhubarb + ¼ Cup of sugar, adjust to your liking). The custard is just about enough for 2 people.

Custard, from scratch

290ml / 10 fl oz milk
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways or 1 tsp of good quality vanilla essence
2 egg yolks
1 heaped tblsp of sugar 

1. Heat the milk in a saucepan, along with the split vanilla pod if using. Bring the milk barely to a boil.

2. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar.

3. Slowly pour the hot milk over the egg yolks, whisking vigorously as you do so. Return to the pan and over a low heat, cook for 5-6 mins until the custard has thickened.

4. Remove the vanilla pod, or add the vanilla essence at this stage. Pour into bowls and serve.

And then you can make vanilla sugar with the leftover vanilla pods. Yay!


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