White Chocolate and Rhubarb
We spent a wonderful afternoon recently being shown around Ivy House Farm dairy. A small family run organic dairy farm in Somerset. With the cutting milk prices the farm had to find a way to survive so they began to bottle their own milk onsite, turning their farm offices into pasteurizing rooms. They began expanding to different creams and now do their own butter, clotted cream, milks and various other dairy products. The cattle are very well looked after, taken to the pastures by day and in at dusk (they even have their own beds at night!!). The farm has been organic for 16 years, and are very particular about waste – there shall be none! Once the orders have come in – from the highest quality delis and restaurants from London and around the UK (La Fromagerie, Neal’s Yard, Fortnum and Masons, Selfridges are just a few names in their client list), the cows are milked that morning, which then travels the huge distance of 2 meters to the pasteurizing rooms to be made into the creams or butters that have been ordered, then driven straight from the farm to the destination, you can’t get anything fresher than that! The milk produced at Ivy House Farm is unhomogenized – something that most of us know little about. Homogenization is the process of forcing milk through tiny holes at extreme pressure which breaks apart the fat globules. This in turn prevents milk from separating and the cream rising to the top, it also looks ‘whiter’ which is cosmetically pleasing, and has a longer shelf life – but the fat particles are broken down so much that they bypass your digestion and seep into your bloodstream.. whereas in unhomogenized milk the fat is broken down in your digestion – the natural way. A lot of people are put off the natural, unhomogenized milk as it has that layer of cream on the top. As you would imagine this milk is more expensive – but you are paying for quality and supporting British dairy farmers, who are seriously struggling at the moment with the slashing milk prices and supermarkets dominating with the large companies which farm intensive – which as a result sees the wellbeing of the animal suffer. In this recipe we use the deliciously indulgent double cream from Ivy House Farm with good quality white chocolate – once you take a mouthful it literally makes you melt. Under the chocolaty layer is the beautiful bright pink of the tart stewed rhubarb. Rhubarb is now back in season and we make pots and pots of rhubarb compote because its so useful – we often have it at breakfast (delicious on porridge with a drizzle of honey), we use it in baking (why not dollop a spoonful on top of a cake you are making before it goes in the oven – its fantastic with banana cake) and we serve it as dessert. So if you are making this recipe then go ahead and make lots of it! It will keep in the fridge for at least a week and it freezes well. We love this dessert as it is so easy, and you can make it ahead so perfect for a dinner party. It also looks so pretty, and such a nice surprise when you dig in and find the pretty pink. We have decorated it with chopped pistachios and dried rose petals which sounds very fancy but super easy to make. Take the petals out of the head of a rose and lie on a tray – either leave in the airing cupboard or on a very low heat in the oven till dried out. Keep in an air tight container and they will last for months. Nut wise – you can use a nut of choice, its just nice to have that crunch.