Oh man, I've been working so much all week that I've had zero cooking hours available so it was super nice to be back in the kitchen today to make these little parcels. They're pretty simple, just a nice package of aniseedy sweet rhubarby niceness in a light flaky case. I didn't realise how well star anise matched the flavour of rhubarb until I made them, I originally wanted to use cicely but I couldn't find any, star anise is a totally suitable replacement.
It's a really subtle flavour, not too strong so completely destroyed when I covered one of the parcels in a strawberry sauce, but if you wanted to take a packed lunch to work, one of these would definitely hold together in your lunch box with no need for a sauce, it's got its own sauce inside!
Have you ever used filo pastry? It's incredible to use, so light and on the edge of tearing the whole time. It's translucent and soft and my new favourite. I saw two different brands in the supermarket and they were both vegan so I guess most brands are. It comes in big sheets all rolled up together, then covered in a wax paper. If you can find the refrigerated version rather than the frozen one you can get going straight away! If it's the frozen one you've got to be patient and wait for it to defrost.
SO. To make about 6 parcels you'll need:
1 1/3 cups of sugar
1 cup of water
5-6 decent sized rhubarb stalks
1 star anise
a pack of filo pastry (I can't imagine anybody wanting to make filo pastry themselves, it looks really really hard)
some melted soya butter
some icing sugar
Put the sugar, water and star anise into a small pan over a medium heat and leave it to do it's thing. It'll take a little while to heat up, let it simmer not boil.
Slice the rhubarb into thin little discs, it won't get much cooking time so it can't be chopped too chunky because you'll end up chowing down on raw 'barb.
If there are any stringy bits of skin, peel them off too.
Once the syrup has been simmering for about 5 minutes, add the rhubarb and stir it around a bit.
You want it to soften but not completely dissolve into mush, so as soon as it loses its hard edge, use a slotted spoon and scoop it out into a bowl lined with some kitchen roll to soak up the fluid.
Take out the star anise too, you can get rid of it now though.
Take the wax paper that comes with the filo (or some greaseproof) and spread it out on your work surface. Place one sheet (careful!) of the filo onto the paper and smooth it out. Grab your melted butter and brush it over the pastry. You don't need to cover it, it's just so the next sheet will stick.
Once you've brushed on the butter, lightly dust with some icing sugar. Then put another sheet of filo on top, and do the same again. Then add a third sheet but don't put anything on this time.
Spoon some of the rhubarb out of the bowl and pat it gently with some more kitchen roll so it's not too wet. Put it about an inch away from the end of the pastry and spread it lengthways like this.
Gently fold the right hand edge over the rhubarb, then keep folding and rolling until you end up with a little pastry cylinder of rhubarb. Cut off an inch or two from each end and then tuck them under (squeeze a little bit too to seal it).
Put the little parcel on a baking tray and bake at gas mark 7/220C/475F for about 5-7 minutes, until golden and crispy! You can make any shape, little spring roll shapes, triangles, whatever you like.
Ok so I like to think that you guys know me by now.
As if I'd just have that as a dessert.
I could see the leftovers of the syrup and I couldn't bear to throw it down the drain AND I had some strawberries and you know they're rhubarbs best friend.
If you want to make a strawberry sauce to go with these (and to make adding the anise pointless) chop some strawberries up.
Put them into the pan with the syrup and leave to simmer until the strawberries get all mushy. Tip the syrup and strawbs into a bowl through a sieve and squish them through the mesh with a wooden spoon.
Tip that into a little jug and you've got a pretty delicious sauce (which I'm pretty sure would make a great cocktail mixer too).
Have that with a rhubarb parcel and some soy ice-cream and you've got yourself a party in your mouth my friend.
I missed you all!! x