Poaching rhubarb in vanilla syrup is one of life’s simple pleasures. But never tell anyone how easy it is, because they will thing you slaved all day over it. True, it takes some time to cut the rhubarb into tiny dice. Put some Paul Simon on and let his music take you somewhere while you – carefully because your knife is sharp – dice. Then, put the rhubarb into the syrup. The only trick is cooking time. If you see that some of your rhubarb pieces begin to fray, remove the pan from the heat. The rhubarb will cook in the residual heat of the syrup, which is why the cooking time is so approximate.
As for the fresh cheese: use fromage blanc if you can find it. If you cannot, drain Greek yogurt for an hour or two, then use it in place of fromage blanc. You’ll need to measure the yogurt AFTER it has drained, so get 2 cups (500ml).
ASTUCE: to peel or not to peel rhubarb, that is THE question. I peel tough stalks that are a second or third harvest from a plant. Small, first harvest rhubarb doesn’t need to be peeled. If the skin is very tough – and it can be so tough a knife will hardly go through it – peel the stalks. It’s easy to do – the peel doesn’t much like what is underneath it so it comes away easily and quickly!