The first of the garden forced rhubarb is finally ready. Not that I've been without rhubarb's vibrant pinkness though, as Yorkshire rhubarb has been a firm fixture on my shopping list since the new year. But, there's something special about looking under the rhubarb forcing pot to find those first few stalks looking so gloriously pink and begging to be eaten.
The best way to cook rhubarb, I find, is in the oven. I just cut the stalks into even sized chunks, place them in a shallow ovenproof dish, cover and cook in a moderately hot oven until tender. Then it's into the fridge ready to add a splash of colour to desserts and breakfasts - bircher muesli topped with a spoonful of rhubarb brightens up even the gloomiest winter morning.
I hadn't made a steamed pudding for ages so I decided to rectify this by making these rhubarb topped sponge puddings. Served of course with rhubarb's favourite companion, custard.*
* A combination which is now inextricably linked with the theme tune to Rhoobarb and Custard, one of the classic children's tv programmes of the 1970s. It was inspired by George Calveley's dog, Rhoobarb and the neighbour's cat. The dog's name came about because the first thing he did when they brought him home as a puppy was to water the rhubarb.