I have been so lucky with piles of fabulous, fresh local fruit recently. Blackcurrants, loganberries, strawberries, gooseberries and red currants. We have had many of the classics such as gooseberry fool and some new ideas such as blackcurrant shortbread cake. I made redcurrant jelly for the first time, pretty straightforward apart from my slightly Heath Robinson jelly bag of muslin suspended via a wooden spoon over a deep jug – it worked! Blackcurrant jam and loganberry jam sit in my larder, a comforting site if ever I saw one.
After making the jam I had a few blackcurrants left over, maybe 100g, and this is what came to mind as a way of using them up. They have such a huge and tangy flavour that only a little is required and I thought this gentle, creamy vanilla pannacotta the perfect way to show off the blackcurrant sauce. Sweet and fruity, sharp and vanilla – these two flavours work so well together.
I have to admit to having avoided recipes containing gelatine for years. I remember my mother once spilling a gelatine mixture on the floor and as she was in a rush, quickly put down some newspaper to soak it up. The result was sheets of newspaper glued firmly to the flagstones which took some elaborate and extensive chipping away to remove. To be fair this was powdered gelatine and I still rarely use that. My preferred type is the clear almost glass like sheets which work a treat. These little puddings are so easy and quick to prepare and always go down a storm. I’ve finished the blackcurrants but we had the pannacottas again yesterday this time with chopped strawberries macerated in a little sugar until they were deep crimson and juicy – fabulous.
Vanilla Pannacotta with Blackcurrants
200ml whole milk
100ml single cream
100ml Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
60g caster sugar
2 gelatine leaves
20-40g caster sugar
Put the gelatine in a bowl of cold water to soften. Heat the milk, cream, vanilla and sugar until it just reaches boiling point. Remove from the heat and add the squeezed out gelatine, whisk well and leave to cool, stirring occasionally. Whisk in the yogurt and divide between 4 ramekins or small metal moulds. Put into the fridge for at least 4 hours to set. Meanwhile put the blackcurrants into a pan with a splash of water and 20g sugar. Heat gently until just falling apart and forming a syrupy sauce. Carefully taste, you may need more sugar, it depends very much on their sweetness. When you are happy with the balance leave the sauce to cool. To serve, dip each ramekin briefly into hot water before turning out onto a plate and serve with the blackcurrants. Serves 4.
Remember Lyons Maid ice lollies? The Orange Maid, a belter of orange cordial flavoured ice, lasted ages, always good value. The Cider Quench which made us giggle and pretend to be drunk. The Zoom, the Fab and of course the Cornish Strawberry Mivvi. Treats from childhood years along with those brick like blocks of ice cream the perfect shape to slice and put between oblong wafers or into those funny rectangular cones (is that a geometric impossibility?).
The Strawberry Mivvi in particular required a certain skill to pick off the strawberry ice outer shell leaving a heart of vanilla ice cream to be licked quickly before it melted. I liked the strawberry layer and I liked the ice cream but it was the combination of the two that makes the Mivvi excel, that British classic Strawberries and Cream – on a stick.
Not content to leave this alone I decided a giant version was required, a Mivvi bombe surprise, a family size spectacular, a Mighty Mivvi if you will. This strawberry sorbet is one I’ve made many times over the years, the pure fragrance of the berries sings and you can easily dispense with the rest of this recipe and eat it as it is. I sometimes make vanilla ice cream but on this occasion have used 2 tubs of a good store bought one.
You need to make this a day or so before you want to eat which of course is only a bonus as it sits happily in the freezer until you are ready. Before you start however, make sure you have a good amount of free space on a freezer shelf, I didn’t take this early precaution and had to do a ridiculous amount of moving and rearranging to accommodate the bowl. Learn from my mistakes!
Giant Strawberry Mivvi
150g caster sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 x 500ml tubs good vanilla ice cream
Dissolve the sugar in a little of the 500ml of water over a low heat then cool. Whizz the strawberries with the lemon juice and then mix with the sugar syrup and remaining water. Sieve and then freeze in an ice cream maker or put in a tub in the freezer and mix regularly to break down the ice crystals. Once you have sorbet by either route transfer it to a 2 litre bowl, then take a 1 litre bowl with a layer of cling film on the outside and push it gently into the larger bowl thus squishing the sorbet up the sides – this sounds more complicated than it is. Put in the freezer for a couple of hours to firm up. Half an hour before the time is up take your 2 tubs of vanilla ice cream out of the freezer to soften. Then remove the smaller bowl, and the cling film from the sorbet (you may need to put a little warm water inside the smaller bowl to encourage its release) and then fill up the cavity with the vanilla ice cream, easily done it its softened state. Put it back into the freezer for at least an hour to firm up until you want it. Then (conversely) you will need to leave the whole thing out of the freezer for 15-20 minutes before you want to cut it, this too may need sitting in warm water to encourage it to part company with the bowl. Serves 8, with aplomb.
When I was about seven or eight I went to visit family on Martha’s Vineyard. There were many memorable things about that holiday, the amazing round house my cousins slept in, the garden which led straight onto the beach, the horseshoe crabs, fresh limes. One of the clearest however is of our daily visit to Edgartown to have an ice cream. The same place everyday and for me the same flavour, pistachio. Isn’t that crazy that an ice cream (or many) nearly 40 years ago should still be such a vivid picture in my mind.
More prosaically I can still remember my first Cornetto, the exoticism of it and the chance that I would disappear from our Yorkshire garden and reappear in a Venetian gondola. Those were the days when you bought tubs of plain vanilla or perhaps for a treat, Neopolitan. No salted caramel or Phish food graced the shelves in those days.
Ice cream then is a treat and never more so than when you make it yourself. The flavours are all the clearer when the fruit goes from punnet to freezer in a matter of minutes. Better than this you know exactly what has gone into your mix – as children we were convinced ice cream was made from whale blubber, not a tempting thought although it never stopped us scoffing it. By the way, were you ever told that the ice cream van only plays music when it has run out of ice creams and ice lollies….?
This is a fabulously zingy and tangy ice cream, super fresh from the citrus and without the need of a custard. It is made, I promise you, in hardly and time and is very easy. My daughter made the ice cream in the photographs and it is delicious, well done Minty.
Lemon and Lime Ice Cream
1 large lemon
120g caster sugar
400ml whipping cream
Put the zest and juice from the lemon and both limes in a bowl add the sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the cream into this mixture and put the bowl into the fridge until cold. When fully chilled pour into an ice cream machine and churn until thick and frozen, transfer to a plastic box with a lid and put into the freezer to firm up a little more. Take it out of the freezer 15 minutes before you want to eat it. Serves 4.
If you don’t have an ice cream machine, put the chilled mixture into the plastic box and freeze. Every couple of hours remove from the freezer, mix thoroughly then freeze again until smooth and frozen.
I love a good chocolate fondant and wasn’t convinced there was any need to gild the lily but this salted caramel idea just wouldn’t go away and I knew I had to have a go at making it. Just out of interest you understand……. So this is the pudding I teased you with around Valentine’s and I thought it would be perfect for Mothering Sunday should you still be without a pudding or as an early Easter treat.
These puddings are sublime, honestly beyond fabulous. A crisp chocolate outer gives way to a soft chocolate pudding containing molten caramel sauce within. They are so good. Surprisingly they also very easy to make and sit happily in the fridge until you want to cook them. As long as the oven is at 200 and you cook them for exactly 12 minutes they will be perfect. I am no expert baker but if I can do them then anyone can.
Salted Caramel Chocolate Fondants
I am all for quick and easy and although these puds fit that bill you will need to make the caramel ahead of time so it can set firm. This only takes a few hours but I made it a day ahead so I could forget about it. You can also make the puddings the day ahead and keep in the fridge. If you remember put the caramel in the freezer when you start making the puddings just to give them an extra chill – this keeps the sauce together rather than it melting straight into the puddings. Miss the salt out if you think you or your children would prefer Caramel Chocolate Fondants.
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons double cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
85g butter, plus a little extra for greasing
85g chocolate, I used 50/50 dark and milk
85g golden caster sugar
1 teaspoon cocoa
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon coffee
45g plain flour
Pinch of salt
Heat the butter, sugar and cream in a pan and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and a good pinch of salt. When it is cold enough to taste try it, you may want more salt then put this caramel in a small bowl in the fridge to set. Grease 4 metal pudding tins with the melted butter then dust each one with cocoa. Put in the fridge until you need them. Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until pale, frothy and at least doubled in volume. Mix the chocolate mixture into the eggs, add the coffee and then gently fold in the flour along with a pinch of salt. Half fill each greased tin with the chocolate mixture then add a teaspoonful of the cold caramel, it may sink a bit but don’t worry. Pour the remaining mix over the caramel to fill the tins. Put the puddings into the fridge for at least half an hour whilst you preheat the oven to 200. Cook the puddings for exactly 12 minutes, then remove from the oven, turn out onto plates and serve with cream or ice cream. This makes four but it is up to you how many it serves…..
Chocolate and Mint is a match (Matchstick) made in heaven, a truly great combination. For as long as I can remember I have loved that marriage of fresh, clean, cool mint and rich, smooth melty chocolate. From After Eights liberated on the quiet from their box in the dining room to that crazy Ice Breaker of the 70’s – ludicrously sharp little peppermint shards incased in chocolate – remember that one? I loved the look of Bendicts Bittermints and though I tried them regularly, desperate to enjoy their sophistication, the super bitter dark chocolate proved an effective barrier between the young me and the soft mint patty within. Fry’s Peppermint Cream, Mintolas and Mint Aero – don’t believe I’ve ever turned my nose up at any of the above. Continuing the theme, my parents even had a bottle of Royal Mint Chocolate Liquer – very racy.
So I thought I’d make my own and could it be any easier? Melt some chocolate, add a little peppermint extract, drop spoonfuls on parchment, let it cool.
Can that be called a recipe? No, honestly it is just too ridiculously simple but that is pretty much it. My children love making (and eating) these and they are superb as a present when you go to someone’s house for lunch or supper. Fun to make during the Easter holidays or afterwards if you need something to do with the surfeit of chocolate that often lingers after the children have gone back to school.
Finally, if like me you have given up chocolate for Lent, I suggest you stockpile some of these, then set your alarm early on Easter Day and tuck in.
Mint Chocolate Drops
I use a combination of milk and plain chocolate as that is what we prefer either in the ratio of 50/50 which the children like or 70 plain 30 milk if you want something a little darker and more bitter to serve after dinner. All plain chocolate is too bitter for me but, as ever, it is up to you.
For every 65g of chocolate use 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract
Melt the chocolate with the peppermint. I do this in a bowl over barely simmering water but I believe a microwave is an even better way to melt chocolate (I don’t have one). Either way do it very gently so the chocolate doesn’t seize. Drop teaspoonfuls onto parchment and leave to cool. Don’t put it in the fridge as this makes the chocolate go a little dull. This amount of chocolate yields about 10 drops.
Out for a walk one morning last week there were signs of Spring everywhere. Catkins and pussy willow, primroses, tiny wobbly lambs, the first shoots heralding the wild garlic and even some weeny tadpoles. There is still a nip in the air, the sort that whilst fresh and invigorating to breathe in still makes you wish you’d worn a hat. Anyway, it was glorious to be out and about and it got me thinking about lemons. Of course, lemons.
Now I know that however good the Spring weather here we are unlikely to be surrounded by lemon groves anytime soon but there is something about their zesty, fresh sharpness than is perfect for Spring. Awakening tired tastebuds which have been spoilt with rich stews and hearty puddings and paving the way for the abundance of crisp, green salad leaves that is Summer.
I must confess to always having lemons in the larder, I know we don’t grow them here but they are an essential in my kitchen and barely a day goes by without the squeezing of a lemon.
This pudding then is the very essence of Spring. Retaining a little richness to bolster against the cold but with enough zip and zing to put a spring in your step. Unbelievably easy, simply a combination of three ingredients which, through some culinary alchemy produce this creamy treat. I like to serve it with some little crisp biscuits, perhaps the vanilla ones in Biscuits du Jour (November 2012). These possets would make a great pud after last weeks’ Chicken with Peppers and Onions, and what an easy supper that would be.
450ml double cream
100g golden caster sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
Put the cream and sugar into a pan. Heat to dissolve the sugar and bring to the boil, simmer gently for 3 minutes, add the lemon juice stir well, then pour into 6 x 100ml ramekins or glasses and leave to set. Serve with crunchy little biscuits.
By the way these are neither too rich nor too sharp for children, my two hovered around whilst I was taking these pictures and happily scoffed one each.
I have avoided making steam puddings because despite finding them irresistible, the whole steaming for hours thing makes me nervous. Recipes that implore me to keep the water in the pan at a certain level throughout or the pudding may explode make me want to turn the page. Anything, other than a small child, that requires such focused and constant attention is not for me. As such I have felt a whole range of rib sticking treats out of reach unless I want to consider immediate redecoration due to wallpaper peeling from walls because of the steam (no I don’t have wallpaper in my kitchen but it is an image I am unable to shake from my mind) or the afore mentioned explosion and subsequent plastering of sticky dough to the ceiling and walls.
Somewhere along the line though I had heard or read of steaming puddings in the oven and had been meaning to try this for ages. I regularly tear recipes from magazines and have stacks of these torn out pages waiting to be tried. Of course, when I tried to find the bit of paper I wanted it was nowhere to be found (nor the beetroot, chocolate and yogurt cake which had been on my to do list for some months but more of that another time) so I had to experiment.
This is the result and I can’t convey to you how utterly delighted I am with it. These puddings are a doddle to make, happily transform themselves in the oven and require no attention or subsequent redecoration. They are unbelievably light and fluffy whilst still delivering that lip smacking golden syrup heavenly hit. We had these for lunch on Sunday and were all literally a second away from licking the plates.
If there was ever a recipe to cheer up a cold, dreary and rain sodden January this is it.
Golden Syrup Sponge Puddings
I used 150ml metal pudding moulds and ramekins and they both worked very well. Incidentally I reheated the two that were left in a pan of simmering water for five minutes the next day and they were still perfect. Serve with cold cream or ice cream (or both).
120g soft butter
100g caster sugar
120g self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
2 tablespoons milk
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons of golden syrup
Preheat the oven to 180 and butter 6 moulds or ramekins then put a tablespoon of golden syrup in the bottom of each one. You will also need 6 pieces of tin foil big enough to loosely cover the puddings. Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, add the eggs one at a time with a little flour and mix well followed by the remaining flour and salt. Add the vanilla and milk and incorporate it. Divide the mixture between the moulds and then cover with the prepared tin foil, fix it loosely so they have room to rise a little. Put into a baking tray, pour in boiling water to half way up the ramekins or moulds and bake for 40 minutes. When done, run a knife around the edge of the puddings and turn out onto a plate being careful not to spill any of the hot runny syrup or burn yourself with it. Serves 6.
So called because we had this for dinner whilst watching the final of the 2007 Rugby World Cup. My husband is South African so clearly this was a night for some rejoicing and this cake has ever after been associated with celebration and happy days. Crispy, chewy meringue against a smooth rich chocolatey filling – fabulous. Oh and yes, I do realise 2007 was a few years ago but the name has stuck!
Anyway, it is supremely easy to make and the meringue layers will be fine in an airtight tin for a couple of days. In fact, if you have room in your freezer to keep the layers flat then that is another option. Should you have a bottle of Baileys, Kahlua or similar in the cupboard then this is the perfect time to use a couple of tablespoons in the ganache filling. Cointreau or Grand Marnier now I think of it would take you the chocolate orange route…. If you are serving this to the underage leave out the alcohol and perhaps go 50/50 milk and plain chocolate, this is what my children prefer. I like this with very cold pouring cream – my husband however likes it with whipped cream providing another layer between the ganache and the meringue, but you can take your pick.
Whatever your sporting affiliations, please make and enjoy.
World Cup Meringue Cake
4 egg whites
200g caster sugar
1 teaspoon wine vinegar (red or white)
1 teaspoon cornflour
300ml double cream
150g chocolate, plain or 50/50 plain and milk chocolate
Icing sugar, to serve (optional)
Preheat the oven to 140. Cut out 3 x 20cm circles in baking parchment and put onto baking sheets. Whisk the egg whites until stiff then gradually incorporate the sugar. When all that is mixed in add the vinegar and cornflour and mix until all is smooth and satiny. Divide the mixture between the 3 circles and smooth. Cook for an hour then turn off the oven and leave them in there for a further 30 minutes. Take out and leave to cool. Meanwhile put the cream and chocolate in a small pan and heat gently until melted and smooth, add the liqueur now if using. Decant this ganache into a bowl and leave to cool until thick, I find the fridge best for this. Keeping the best looking meringue for the top, divide the ganache between the other two, pile them up, dust with icing sugar and serve to applause. Serves 6 generously.
So, not a fantastic photograph I’m afraid but this was last nights pudding, it was on the table and I had to get a picture before it got eaten. I have to share it though because it was the simplest, as these freeform tarts or galettes always are, and just fabulous because of the combination of fruit and crispy sweet pastry. Immediately I have to admit that it was bought shortcrust (come on, it is the summer holidays) but that doesn’t matter. I chose nectarines and cherries because I had some a little soft and in need of eating up.
I rolled the pastry, my daughter put the fruit on and folded the crust up, we popped it in the oven and it was done. As luck would have it, a chance putting together of ingredients produced something wonderful. I can’t take any credit – it was simply what was in the larder and I needed to make a pud. Serendipity.
Nectarine and Cherry Galette
2 nectarines, sliced
A handful of cherries, stoned and halved
A handful of raspberries
1 dessert spoon plain flour or ground almonds
250g sweet shortcrust pastry
2 dessert spoons caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 190 and put a flat baking tray on the shelf to heat. Put the fruit into a bowl with one dessert spoon of caster sugar, give it a mix and leave while you get on. Roll out the pastry into a rough circle or oval. Transfer gently to a tin lined with baking parchment. Sprinkle the middle of the pastry with the flour or ground almonds (this will absorb any excess juice and stop the base of the galette becoming soggy). Top with the fruit, fold the pastry edge over the fruit, sprinkle the whole thing with the remaining dessert spoon of sugar. Put the tin into the oven directly onto the baking tray – this will ensure the base gets cooked properly and will be crisp and lovely. Cook for 30-35 minutes until golden. Some juice may leak out which matters not. This was enough for 4 and we had it with cold cream. Vanilla ice cream would be good too.
If you have pastry left, make mini versions of this or my lemon and raspberry tarts (June 2013) or just good old fashioned jam tarts. Alternatively of course you could just make a bigger one of these and up the amount of fruit.
It is not a secret that I love a granita – they are easy to make, refreshing and delicious. My first foray into granitas was a gin and tonic version which was an absolute belter to serve after a curry. You may remember my blood orange granita earlier this year which was just fabulous, the citrus flavour singing out and the colour simply beautiful. Seasonal that one though, which is both good news and bad.
This granita however you can enjoy any time of the year. Iced tea is something I rarely drink here but have enjoyed in America where it is on most menus. I rustled up this granita one day and entered it into one of Food52’s weekly recipe competitions (www.food52.com). Well, blow me down, not only was it selected as one of the Community Picks in iced deserts which is a great honour, it has also been viewed over 1,000 times. Woo hoo I think the expression is.
All this excitement aside, it is a great pud on a hot day and one you can make a couple of days ahead and keep in the freezer. I am willing to bet you will have the ingredients anyway and if not it is cheap as chips to make. Serve in little glasses, the glorious amber crystals deserve to be shown off.
Iced Tea Granita
I use Yorkshire Tea for this as it is my every day tea (being a Yorkshire lass). The flavour and balance is spot on and makes this granita exactly how I like it.
250ml freshly made tea, cooled
2 tablespoons lemon juice
40g caster sugar
Dissolve the sugar in the lemon juice over a low heat then mix with the tea. Strain into a shallow container with a lid. Freeze for 3 hours and then mix well, breaking up the frozen crystals around the edges and mixing them with the slushy centre. Freeze for an additional 2 hours and then mix again. Repeat. When ready to serve, scratch up the granita with a fork and serve in small glasses. If you have made this ahead and it has frozen solid take it out of the freezer about 30 minutes before you want to serve. This would do 4 small glasses but can easily be doubled.
Note – if you want to make an orange version similar to the Blood Orange Granita (February 2012) I would use ordinary oranges and add the juice of a lime for that extra zing.