Monday, July 21, 2008

A Taste of Summer

No need to top and tail the gooseberries unless making the chunky variation.
Gooseberry and Elderflower Curd:
1 lb 2 oz (500g) gooseberries
1 tblsp water
9 oz (250g) caster sugar
3 oz (75g) butter, melted
3 eggs, beaten
3 tblsp elderflower cordial
Put the gooseberries into a pan with the water, cover and heat over moderate to high, for about 5 minutes until the gooseberries have collapsed into a pulp. Place a sieve over a bowl, tip in the contents of the pan and press down firmly to collect all the pulp and juices in the bowl beneath. Scrape the pulp from the underside of the sieve, then discard the seeds/skins. To the puree in the bowl add the remaining ingredients and place the bowl over simmering water. Stir and cook, and keep stirring for about 20 minutes until the thickness of custard. Pot up into warm sterilised jars, seal, cool then chill for at least 3 hours before it thickens to a spreadable consistency. Unopened jars will keep for up to 6 weeks in the fridge, once opened eat within 3 - 4 days. Makes about 1lb 8oz (750ml).
Variation: To make a chunky curd, no need to sieve the gooseberries, just mash them up.

Although pretty basic, this next recipe makes good use of broken pieces of meringue. Other berry fruits can be used instead, or even make it with canned fruit chopped into small pieces. The dish improves the more you add (see variations below).
Raspberry Ripple: serves 4
half pint (10fl.oz/300ml) double cream
5 fl.oz (150ml) Greek yogurt
half pint measure roughly broken meringue pieces
5 oz (150g) raspberries
5 tblsp raspberry sauce or coulis
Whisk the cream until firm enough to hold its shape then fold in the yogurt. Remove a few raspberries and crush the remainder lightly with a fork and mix in the raspberry sauce. Place dollops of cream/yogurt, with the meringue and raspberries in rough layers in four serving dishes or glasses. Serve topped with reserved whole berries.
Stir finely chopped stem ginger into the cream mixture and include slices of bananas mixed in with the berries.
Top the dessert with chopped toasted hazelnuts or crushed amaretti biscuits.

However much we tried to avoid eating prunes, it has to be said that when it comes to baking they have an almost magical way of tasting like something else. For example, this next recipe for brownies has almost a mocha (coffee and chocolate) flavour. Certainly healthier than some recipes for the traditional chocolate brownie.
Mocha Brownies: makes 12
6 oz ( 175g) ready to eat dried (pitted) prunes
4 tblsp boiling water
3 medium eggs
5 oz (150g) soft brown sugar
5 oz (150g) self raising flour
2 tsp instant coffee
8 oz (225g) icing sugar, sifted into a bowl
2 tsp instant coffee
1 tblsp boiling water
Put the prunes in a food processor/blender with 3 tblsp of the boiling water and blitz to an almost smooth puree. Put this puree into a bowl with the eggs and sugar, beat together then fold in the flour. Beat for a few more seconds to ensure it is well blended. Put the coffee into a cup with the remaining tablespoon of boiling water, stir until dissolved then fold this into the brownie batter. Spoon into a greased and lined Swiss roll tin 7" x 11" (18 x 28cm) shaking the tin to level the surface. Bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 20 - 25 minutes until firm and springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin.
Make the icing by dissolving the coffee in the water, then stir this into the icing sugar to make a thick spreading consistency. If necessary add a little more water but only a drop at a time. Spread this over the cake and leave to set. To serve, remove from tin, peel away the paper and serve in slices.
variation: give this a more chocolately flavour by dissolving a teaspoon of cocoa powder with the coffee, or stir a little grated chocolate into the mix.

For those that hate to be bothered with mixing, this is just a matter of assembling in layers. How easy can it get? Of course it needs to be cooked, but then you can't have everything.
Quick as a flash, Fruit Layered Fingers: makes 21
4 oz (100g) margarine
4 oz (100g) porridge oats
4 oz (100g) sultanas
2 oz (50g) glace cherries, chopped
2 oz (50g) chocolate chips or grated chocolate
3 oz (75g) desiccated coconut
405g can condensed milk
Grease and line a shallow baking tin 9" x 13" (23 x 33cm). Melt the margarine then pour this into the prepared tin, shaking or tilting the tin so that the marg. has spread evenly over the base. Immediately sprinkle the oats on top of the margarine, pressing it down to absorb some of the fat. Top this with a layer of sultanas, scatter over the cherries and chocolate, then sprinkle over the coconut. Pour the condensed milk on top.
Bake for 20 - 30 minutes at 180C, 350F, gas 4 until golden brown. Cool in the tin for 20 minutes then - still in the tin- cut into 21 fingers (or the number and size you wish). Leave in the tin to cool completely before removing the slices (perhaps easiest done by lifting the paper/contents out of the tin and placing onto a board).