Gooseberry, Strawberry and Elderflower Eton Mess

Gooseberry and strawberry fool 2

My Granny had a kitchen garden, a big old walled space which I thought was heaven.  I adored it and spent hours there as a child wandering between the rows of vegetables, marvelling at the artichokes taller than me, rubbing my fingers on the fennel fronds to release their aniseed scent.  Inspecting the asparagus, picking baskets of peas and snacking on apples and pears when the mood took me.   It has always been a deep held wish to have such a garden and we moved house last year we were lucky enough to find one tucked away.   Overgrown and wild it was but the bones were there nonetheless and I had visions of recreating my Grandmothers remarkable garden.  Ha!  After a mass of reading and learning, a weekend of rotavating and what feels like endless weeding I have planted and planted.  Seeds have been started off on the kitchen windowsill or in the green house or planted direct, seedlings bought where my own efforts have failed and donations of little vegetable plants and dahlias gratefully received.

I am delighted with it all and spend hours trying to keep up with the weeds (impossible) and planting various rows of salad leaves to follow on from the ones we are eating now (I believe that is what you do…).  My battle with the slugs is another story altogether.  It is considerably harder work than I anticipated but supremely rewarding.  The first spear of asparagus, eating the first herby green salad with a variety of leaves all grown by us.  There are three tiny plums on a new plum tree, pea pods, baby beetroots, courgettes and beans on their way.

The first fruit picked so far have been wild strawberries and some gooseberries which immediately went towards the fool in this pudding.   With local strawberries winking at me and last weeks elderflower cordial to hand I decided to combine these flavours, the very essence of summer.  The tang of the gooseberries along with the sweetness of the strawberries and floral hit of elderflower are a winning combination and a bit of scrunched up meringue adds texture.

Gooseberry, Strawberry and Elderflower Eton Mess

Of course you can just make the gooseberry fool to have on its own in which case I would use 4 tablespoons of sugar as you won’t have any added sweetness from the meringue.  Taste the gooseberry puree before you add though and remember the later in the season the sweeter these berries will be.

400g gooseberries, topped and tailed

3 tablespoons golden caster sugar

300ml double cream

2 tablespoons elderflower cordial

1 punnet of strawberries halved or quartered depending on size

Meringue (as per the recipe for World Cup Meringue Cake, November 2013 but don’t bother with 3 layers, 1 will do or indeed individual meringues as you are going to break them up anyway).

Put the gooseberries in a pan with the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water and simmer gently until completely broken down.  Leave to cool and then add 1 tablespoon of elderflower cordial.  Put the cut strawberries into a bowl, add the other tablespoon of elderflower cordial, turn them gently and leave to macerate while you get on.  Whip the cream until it just holds its shape and then fold into the gooseberry puree.  Break up the meringues and then mix them with the gooseberry fool followed by the strawberries.  This would fill six glasses similar to the ones you see here but I just filled four and we had seconds…..

 

 

 

Apple and Raspberry Crumble

Apple and raspberry crumble 4

I can’t tell you how much I love a crumble.  Plum crumble, rhubarb crumble, apple and blackberry crumble, all of them have a place on my table.  Childhood weekend lunches often finished with a fabulous, fruity and crunchy crumble whilst apricot crumble at school was a thing to celebrate, the best pudding of all and something that made other school food worth living through.

All that said however, I hadn’t thought of giving you a crumble recipe here.  Not out of meanness you understand, rather I thought everyone had a good, reliable crumble recipe up their sleeve to be whipped out when required. It was only after being asked for this particular recipe six time in a couple of months that I began to wonder and so I present it to you now.  Soft tangy fruit under a blanket of oaty, sweet and buttery crumble, let me tell you the sum here far, far exceeds the total of its humble parts.

This particular incarnation is my absolutely favourite, the bee’s knees and the vicar’s you know whats.  Although a straightforward apple crumble is still something to sing about, the addition of raspberries lifts it, their fruity tang and fragrance make this wholly lip smacking and satisfying which surely is what a pud is all about.  Can I rave little more?  It is and easy and cheap to make, a perfect way to use up any apples looking a little tired and frozen raspberries are perfect here so regardless of the season this can be on your plate in around an hour, start to finish.

Apple and Raspberry Crumble

Ideally use a combination of cookers and eaters, the bramleys are the ones that cook down to a velvety apple puree whilst the eaters retain a little bite.  I say 7 tablespoons of sugar and water as this is usually about right but depending on the tartness of your apples you may need more sugar and add more water if you think it is required.  You can cook the apples and make the crumble ahead of time but don’t put the crumble onto the fruit until you are ready to cook it as it will get soggy, ideally keep it in the fridge.

1 kg apples (see introduction), peeled, cored and roughly chopped

7 tablespoons golden caster sugar

7 tablespoons water

200g plain flour

100g cold butter, cubed

1/4 teaspoon salt

80g golden caster sugar

40g oats

150g frozen raspberries

Preheat the oven to 190.  Put the apples, the 7 tablespoons of sugar and water in a pan and cook gently until the apples are soft and broken down, about 20-30 minutes.  You may need a little more water once cooked and taste in case you need a little more sugar.  Do keep the apples tart though as the crumble bring sweetness to the party.  Meanwhile either whizz the butter and flour in a processor until it resembles breadcrumbs or do this by hand then add the salt, sugar and oats.  Tip the cooked apples into a suitable oven proof dish, I tend to use an enamel one which is 29x23cm and add the raspberries to this, mixing so they are evenly distributed in the apples, no need to defrost.  Tumble over the crumble and smooth it gently but don’t pack it down.  Cook for around 30 minutes or until bubbling at the edges and just browning on top.  This serves 6 or better still 4 with lots of seconds, I like it with cold cream or custard whilst my children prefer vanilla ice cream.

 

 

Salted Caramel Chocolate Fondants

Salted Caramel Chocolate Fondant

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.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Fondant 3

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 Fondant 4

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

Sea salt

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…..

Salted Caramel Chocolate Fondant 2