Saturday, June 21, 2008

Heating and Eating

Fruit vinegars, made from blackcurrants, blackberries and particularly raspberries, are now becoming popular again, this time used in cookery to replace wine vinegar in salad dressings. Also a good substitute for balsamic vinegar. They can be diluted with water to drink as a cordial. The measurements given are as a guide to proportions and easy to remember (pint to a pint - fruit and vinegar, and pound to a pint - sugar and liquid). Adjust amounts accordingly.
Fruit Vinegar:
1 lb (500g) chosen fruit
1 pint (600ml) malt vinegar
Put the fruit in a bowl and mash lightly with the back of a wooden spoon. Pour over the vinegar, cover with a cloth and leave to stand 3 - 4 days, stirring occasionally. Strain through muslin and add 1 lb (500g( sugar to each 1 pint (600ml) liquid. Boil for 10 minutes, strain again, then bottle up in clean, sterilised jars that have vinegar-proof and airtight lids.

One vegetable that keeps very well in the fridge is the carrot. Sometimes it is cheaper to buy them loose, other times they work out cheaper when bought by the bag, so always check prices. Most children will eat carrots, but sometimes they won't. This recipe is a good way to offer to pernickity children, but also perfectly adequate to serve as a normal family dish. No one need be told it is make with carrots. A few no-soak apricots could be included, then if anyone asks, just say it is made with apricots.
Chocolate (and carrot) Tart:
12 oz (350g) shortcrust pastry
10 fl.oz (half pint/300ml) cooked carrot, sieved
1 tblsp sugar
2 tblsp cocoa
half tsp vanilla extract
Roll out the pastry and line an 8" sandwich tin, saving the trimmings. Mix together the carrot puree, sugar, cocoa and vanilla and spread this over the pastry. Roll out the reserved pastry and cut into thin strips, and place these across the filling, criss-cross fashion. Bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for about half an hour or until the pastry is cooked.
variation: if including no-soak apricots, put a few in a teacup and pour over a little boiling water to cover and leave them to soak for a while, drain and add to sliced cooked and drained carrots and puree together with the remaining ingredients, and use this to fill the pastry case.

Final recipe today uses gooseberries - a traditional dish that could go on to be frozen to make ice-cream. If wishing to do this, freeze in an ice-tray, cover with foil and freeze for about 3 hours - stirring it at least twice during that time. No need to top and tail for the fruit will be sieved.
Gooseberry Fool:
1 lb (500g) hard, green gooseberries
5 oz (125g) sugar
5 fl.oz (150ml) thick cream, lightly whipped
Put the gooseberries into a pan and heat very gently until the juices start to flow, stir in the sugar and cook gently until the fruit is very soft. A little water could be added to help this along, but should be cooked long enough to evaporate this out. Sieve the gooseberry/sugar pulp, then let this pureed get completely cold before folding in the cream. Spoon into individual glasses and chill before serving.
variation: cold thick custard could be used instead of cream, alternatively a mixture of custard and cream. When making the ice-cream version, use all cream if possible, but not all custard.