When placed in trying situations, I tend to over-think and over-analyse. That usually leaves me feeling very stressed out and drained. Yet on many occasions, the solution is simply right before my eyes; it is my brain that tries to complicate matters.
Likewise, when it comes to desserts, I tend to over-think them sometimes – like how to do things differently, what is the best way to do with a certain ingredient etc. It dawned on me in recent days that sometimes, it is best to let the ingredients shine through with their own merit; there’s no need for excessive fussing or meddling.
I was excited to find rhubarb in the market last week. For a moment, I got carried away thinking about the different ways I can use rhubarb in my dessert.
I stopped myself and decided that I should go with a strawberry and rhubarb compote for one simple reason – No one can fault strawberry and rhubarb compote. It is perfect in every way. And there’s hardly anything wrong with going with the familiar, tried and tested.
To jazz up the dessert a little, I decided to experiment with a toasted quinoa crumble. I toasted some quinoa seeds before milling it in a food processor to give me a quinoa flour. The light toasting of these quinoa seeds is enough to bring out its aromatic, nutty flavour which I think makes it more interesting that the usual crumble made of plain flour, butter, and sugar.
The combination of the sweet and tart flavours of the strawberry and rhubarb compote goes hand in hand with the crunchy, nutty-flavoured crumble. It was a wonderful dessert to tuck into after a sumptuous brunch spread.
I guess I should really learn not to over-think desserts (as well as things in general) and instead surprise myself at how simple solutions can bring about the most unforeseen, desirable outcomes.
This dessert is certainly very alluring. I’m glad that I decided to just go with it and not agonize over it.
Recipe: Strawberry and rhubarb compote with toasted quinoa crumble
A compote (almost like a fruit stew, if you like) is one of my favourite ways of working with fruits; it is a great way of maximizing their flavours with minimum treatment. This dessert takes no longer than half an hour from start to finish to put this together. You can also serve the compote with a lovely homemade greek yogurt or alternatively, serve the toasted quinoa crumble with baked apples or plums. The toasted quinoa gives the crumble a lovely nutty flavour.
For the compote:
450g rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ pieces
grated zest of half a lemon
250g or a punnet of fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
Optional: 1/2 vanilla bean, scrap seeds in with the rhubarb
1. Add water, sugar, zest of lemon and rhubarb slices into a pot. Heat it over medium fire, bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally. When it comes to a boil, turn down heat to allow it to simmer.
2. The rhubarb should start to break down and become tender after about 10 minutes. Add in the strawberries and cook for another 5 minutes or until strawberries have softened.
3. The compote can be served warm or cool.
Toasted quinoa crumble
75g quinoa seeds
100g plain flour
40g brown sugar
pinch of salt
140g unsalted butter, cubed
1. Make quinoa flour: Toast quinoa seeds on a saucepan over medium-low fire until fragrant. Allow the seeds to cool slightly before milling them through a food processor until flour-like consistency.
2. Make the crumble: Rub in the cubed butter into the dry ingredients until coarse breadcrumb consistency, it is okay to have a few bigger clumps. It shouldn’t be too fine as these bigger clumps would be really good to eat. Alternatively, you can do this in a food processor, pulsing every 30 seconds until butter is evenly distributed.
3. Place crumbs onto a lined baking tray and refrigerate until firm, while you preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius.
4. Bake for about 15- 18 minutes until golden brown in colour. You may need to toss the mixture and rotate the tray front to back midway through the baking.
5. Allow it to cool completely before serving. You can store the leftovers in an air-tight container for a week or in the freezer for a month.
1. Spoon the compote into margarita glasses. Scoop the cooled crumble onto the top of the compote and serve.