Tag Archives: pudding

Baked Pears

Don’t know where this one comes from. To feed six you’ll need:

  • six large pears (doesn’t matter if they’re a bit bland or a bit woody, this recipe works with all sorts)
  • two lemons
  • 50g sugar
  • 50 butter
  • vanilla pod

Peel the pears and slice them thinly. Modern breeds of pear don’t need coring, but pick out any gnarly bits. Arrange the pears in a shallow dish and squeeze the lemons over them. If you’re going to leave them for a while, give them a good toss, as the lemon juice will stop them going brown. (Ditto, if you’re using apples instead of pears.)

Meanwhile, melt the butter and sugar in a small saucepan, split the vanilla pod, and throw it in. Not worth trying to extract the seeds. Bring to a gentle simmer for a few minutes to dissolve the sugar, stirring constantly, and if the mixture darkens very slightly, all the better. Pour this over the pears.

At this point, you can leave the dish until required.

When ready, pop into a hot oven, around Gas 5, for about forty five minutes. Keep an eye on them, and occasionally rearrange, so all the pears are coated with juice, and none dry out. I use a pair of barbecue tongs to do this. They may get a little brown and sticky about the edges (good!) but you don’t want to burn them.

The sophisticated would probably serve this with mascarpone, I’d go for vanilla ice cream.


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Raspberry Panna Cotta

There were some new season raspberries in the shop, rather tart, but ideal for topping this solution for a pudding which needed to be free from eggs.

To make six portions, using my 150mL ramekins, I used the following:

  • 450mL semi skimmed milk (full cream is fine, it doesn’t matter that much in relation to the cream)
  • 450mL double cream
  • 150g caster sugar
  • one vanilla pod
  • gelatin (either leaf or powdered; see below)

And for the topping:

  • 300g raspberries (frozen is fine, but fresh is better)
  • 30g caster sugar

Start by looking at the instructions on your packet of gelatin. Work out how much you would need to set 900mL of liquid, and then halve it. The last thing you want is vanilla flavoured rubber.

Put the cream, milk and sugar in a small saucepan on a low heat. (If you’re using leaf gelatin, put the leaves in a small bowl of cold water to soak, now.)

Meanwhile, eviscerate the vanilla pod and add the seeds to the saucepan. Stir, both to help dissolve the sugar, and to break up the vanilla seeds, which like to clump together. When it’s on the verge of boiling, turn the heat off, and add the gelatin. If it’s leaf gelatin, you’ll need to wrangle it out of the water in which it has been soaking, and give it a good squeeze, hopefully without it slipping out of your hands.

Give the raspberries a good wash, and drain. Pop the wet raspberries, and the 30g of caster sugar into another saucepan, and gently heat, stirring occasionally. You might also like to occasionally stir the milk/cream mix, to stop a skin from forming.

When the raspberries have oozed some juice, and it’s starting simmer, turn the heat off. Cover and put to one side, somewhere cool, or in the fridge.

Pour the milk + cream mixture into the ramekins, cover with cling film and put into the fridge to set. This will take around six hours, or just leave overnight. The cling wrap is important, as otherwise they will develop a leathery skin.

Once the cream has set, divide the cold raspberry mix between the ramekins, and gently smooth to create an even topping. Remember, they’ll be fairly wobbly, so don’t rush in.

Serve immediately.


Strawberry & Cointreau Ice Cream

ice-cream

Huzzah for the British Summer, even in its belated and erratic form.

Some strawberries in the fridge had passed their prime and were a bit icky, but quite tasty, so time for some ice cream. It’s time consuming but requires very little effort, so best as a background task.

I used 300g of the finest (hint!) ready made shop custard to 200g of strawberries.

  1. pop custard into a mixing bowl and into the freezer
  2. wait 30 minutes
  3. retrieve custard and beat with an electric whisk, then return to the freezer – use a soft rubber spatula to push the edges down, otherwise they’ll freeze solid
  4. wait 30 minutes
  5. retrieve custard and beat again – at this point it will show a little resistance, and you may need a metal spoon to dislodge the edges – again, use a spatula to scrape down the side of the bowl into the middle and return to the freezer
  6. wait 30 minutes – it should be starting to get seriously cold now
  7. retrieve, beat, and return
  8. wait 30 minutes, and in the meantime wash, dry and hull the strawberries and then squish them vigorously with a potato masher (I haven’t added them earlier as I want obvious bits of strawberry in the finished product)
  9. retrieve the ice cream which should be stiffening up, beat, add the strawberries, 15mL of Cointreau, beat again, and then return to the freezer
  10. wait 30 minutes
  11. retrieve and beat once more more before returning to the freezer for a couple of hours, covering the surface with cling film, to avoid ice crystals on the surface
  12. as this has a fair amount of water in it from the fruit, it will set hard, so pop it in the fridge for an hour or so before serving (or nuke for five seconds)

Job done. Blah blah homemade custard blah blah life too short blah blah.

Only thing better is getting a South African to say “ice cream”. (They’re getting wise to this one, now, so you will need to be subtle.)


Naughty Strawberries

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However you might feel about British food, you cannot deny this island produces some of the best strawberries on the planet. I’m given to understand that this is because they’re still grown in the ground, whilst the rest of the civilised world have taken to growing them hydroponically, which maximises the yield, but at the expense of texture and flavour.

That said, they can occasionally disappoint, and my box of new season’s strawbs are pleasant, but without the richness that they’ll have in June. Here’s how to improve them, quantities below for five greedy people:

  • 500g strawberries
  • 250g Mascarpone
  • 300mL double cream
  • quarter cup icing sugar
  • 60mL Marsala

Lever the mascarpone out of its tub, and into a large mixing bowl. Sift the icing sugar over it. You need to combine the cream and Marsala, but if you add them all at once, you’ll just be chasing a lump of mascarpone around the bowl with a spoon. So start by adding a quarter of the cream and use a pair of metal spoons to break up the mascarpone and combine, after that it shouldn’t be too hard to add the rest. You want a smooth mix.

Retain a few of the most attractive strawberries for topping; hull and quarter the rest. In each bowl, place a dollop of the cream/mascarpone mix, a portion of strawberries, the remainder of the cream/mascarpone, and top with a single strawberry.

Leave in the fridge for an hour or two to set, and serve chilled.

More?!

You could use single cream, but you’ll need to sift in half a teaspoon of cornflour with the icing sugar to give it some stability. A chilled double espresso will add a certain kick to the mix, and you could also try a different alcohol. You could also sprinkle the strawberries with booze and allow them to sit for a while.


Crème Caramel

Creme Caramel, a.k.a “flan” and “pudim”, has much to recommend it: you use whole eggs (so no separating and then wondering what to do with the whites) and you can prepare it completely in advance, so no need to stay sober until you wield the blowtorch as with crème brûlée.

This will produce four servings assuming, like me, you’re using four 150mL china ramekins. For the custard you’ll need:

  • 3 eggs (this is where free range will really make a difference)
  • 400mL full cream milk (semi skimmed will do at a pinch, but consider adding a splodge of cream)
  • 25g caster sugar for the custard
  • another 100g of caster sugar for the caramel
  • 1tsp vanilla extract or stuff to infuse, e.g. spices and peel

Start with the caramel, but first, have your ramekins ready at one side. You’ll need a scrupulously clean stainless steel saucepan; under no circumstances try this with non stick. Put the sugar in and add just enough water to cover; two or three tablespoons. Get the heat up to medium and stir gently until dissolved, that is, until you can’t see any sugar crystals, nor feel them crunching under the spoon. The liquid will go clear. This ought to take a minute or two. Once that’s done, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle but constant bubble. From time to time, use the handle of the saucepan to gently swirl the contents around, but do not insert a spoon or anything else. The liquid will stay clear for around ten minutes, but within the space of a minute will go from being the colour of weak tea to being burnt and horrid.

Don’t wait for that to happen, but take it off the heat when it’s the colour of dark honey, and tip it into the bottoms of the ramekins that have been waiting patiently to one side. Working quickly, swirl each of the ramekins around to make sure the caramel is in an even layer. Put them somewhere to set, at room temperature; not in the fridge.

Whilst they’re setting, pour the milk into the saucepan in which you made the caramel. Heat it gently, but take it off the heat before it boils, and add anything you’re infusing, although if you’re using vanilla extract, I’d be inclined just to beat it in during the next step. Leave the milk to cool for about ten minutes, so it gets down to a whisker under 50°C. (Get the oven going, now.) You’ll notice the remains of the caramel will have been absorbed into the milk – this is a trick from Delia. (Boil the kettle, now.)

Plonk the eggs, the vanilla extract, and the 25g of caster sugar into a large bowl, beat well, and gradually add the hot milk, still stirring.

Put the ramekins into a roasting tin, pour in the custard, almost to the top, and then add enough hot water from the kettle to come two thirds of the way up the outsides of the ramekins. Generally easier to do this with the baking tray already on the shelf in the oven.

My fan-forced oven needs to be set to 150°C for this, and the custards take around half an hour, although start to check every few minutes after the first twenty minutes have elapsed. You can tell they’re done when they go from splashy to wobbly when you very gently nudge the roasting tin. Any sign of bubbling or puffing and they need immediate rescue. They will also tend to form a rubbery skin in a fan-forced oven if left too long, not really sure I have an answer for this.

Take the ramekins out of the roasting tin (tongs!) and leave them to cool. When mainly cold, cover with cling film and pop them in the fridge for a at least a few hours so the caramel softens and merges into the custard. You can happily leave them overnight, or even for two nights.

Unmoulding them needs a little practise, and expect at least one to land upside down on your first attempt. The custard generally sticks to the ramekin just around the edges at the very top, so detach gently with a butter knife. You’ll probably then need to run the knife down to the bottom all the way around around the edge. Put a small deep rimmed plate upside down on top of the ramekin and invert. It may come out, otherwise slip the butter knife in between the custard and the wall of the ramekin, and it will come slithering out. Serve immediately.

Variations

All sorts of fun to be had:

  • replace some of the milk with cream
  • add a yolk or two for extra richness
  • infuse the custard with lemon or orange peel
  • infuse with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg etc
  • maybe a splash of rum?
  • intriguingly, Portuguese recipes seem to use half milk and half condensed milk, although I’ve never tried this

Poached Pears

A ridiculously easy procedure that defies the standard approach for recipe writing, as it all depends on the size and consistency of your pears.

First, catch your pears. They may be big ones, in which case you want one per person, or tiddlers, in which case, two per person is better. Peel them, but leave the stalk intact if you’re being fancy. You needn’t worry about them discolouring for reasons that will become obvious.

Put them in a pot so they fit in one layer, and then pour over enough red wine to cover them. Ideally the wine should be something soft, like a Merlot. Six average sized pears will probably need an entire bottle of red; maybe more. You can always drink the rest. Now, for each 750mL of wine you’ve used, add 250g of caster sugar to the pot.

Add some spices. I’d go for a vanilla pod, split down the middle, plus half a bashed up cinnamon stick. You could go the whole hog and use ginger, cloves and nutmeg, but that might be over-egging your pudding.

Bring the pot to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and then reduce to a mere simmer. The pears are done when they’re done, and not before. In practical terms, this means waiting for about half an hour, and then sliding a metal skewer through the thickest part of a test pear. Repeat every five minutes until you’re met with no resistance. Small, really ripe pears will probably be done in half an hour or less, artillery grade fruit may require the best part of an hour.

Remove the pears with a slotted spoon, and then turn up the heat, reducing the liquid as much as you dare, stirring frequently so it doesn’t burn on the bottom. After a while the liquid will thicken, and a spoon drawn through it will leave an obvious furrow, that hesitates before closing up. Don’t leave it unattended at this stage.

Pour the hot syrup over the barely warm pears and serve. Vanilla ice cream or custard is not out of the question. You can also let them go cold and serve later, but do pour the syrup over the pears first, so it doesn’t solidify in the pot!


Clafoutis

The last time I made clafoutis, it was the 90s, and Take That were performing – for want of a better word – to crowds at Wembley Arena. Oh. Wait. I see. What goes around comes around. What alarms me, even more than Take That, is that I haven’t made one of these for more than a decade, as it’s stupidly easy, stupidly quick, and can be made with just about any kind of fruit.

Beware. Strictly speaking, a clafoutis has to involve cherries. Anything else, and it’s a “flaugnarde”. There are even people who will tell you this in a huffy voice. I wouldn’t want to spoil their fun, so I proudly say “blueberry clafoutis”.

But today, it’s cherries.

Quand nous chanterons le temps des cerises,
et gai rossignol et merle moqueur
Seront tous en fête!
Les belles auront la folies en tête,
Et les amoureux du soleil en coeur.
Quand nous chanterons le temps des cerises,

Sifflera bien mieux le merle moqueur.

You’ll need a dish that is big enough to fit the cherries in a single layer. I use my quiche dish, which is ten inches in diameter, and one and a half inches deep.

I used:

  • 450g cherries
  • 4 eggs
  • 225mL milk
  • 225mL double cream
  • 75g caster sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 75g plain flour

Start by stalking and stoning the cherries. I know, it’s a pain, but it can’t be helped. Pomiane suggests leaving the stones in, but then greed gets the better of you, and before you know it you’ve chipped a tooth.

Get the oven going at 200°C. Like Yorkshire Pudding, a little shock and awe will help it rise.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together, quite vigorously, until they’ve gone a little pale and fluffy. Whisk in the cream, milk and salt and then gradually add the flour, whisking gently, ’til there are no obvious lumps. (Don’t worry about the occasional tiny lump.)

Generously butter the dish, and chuck in two teaspoons of icing sugar, giving the dish a good shake, so that the inside is well coated. Tip away the excess. This helps the pudding not to stick.

Put the cherries in the dish in a single layer. Put the dish on the shelf in the hot oven. Pour over the batter, stopping when you’re about half an inch short of the top. The tops of the cherries will be peeping through. Using these quantities, and the above mentioned dish, you’ll have a few tablespoons left over.

Leave in the oven for half an hour. It will puff up and go golden on the outside, and start to smell good. My fan-forced oven tends to give the side closer to the fan more of a tan, so you may want to turn the dish around halfway through.

Now, slip a knife in. Does it come out clean? Probably not. Close the oven door, and leave it for another five minutes, and keep repeating the test. Expect around forty minutes total. The photo at the top shows it about five minutes short of being done, so it will have much more of a tan. (Pomiane suggests turning the temperature up for the last few minutes to ensure this.)

Let it cool for about half an hour, then serve. It will collapse, but that’s fine. You could dust it with icing sugar. Some ice cream would be good at this point.

Variations

Loads. Today I chucked a tablespoon of brandy into the batter, and also a heaped tablespoon of ground almonds. Also, the caster sugar came from the jar wherein lurk the mummified corpses of a few vanilla pods. You could also sprinkle the top with flaked almonds if there were any handy.

I used to do this with Morello cherries from a jar, which is also good, and handy for the fifty weeks of the year when it isn’t cherry season.

You may want more sugar. You’ll need to double the sugar if you’re using the bitter but aromatic cherries you sometimes see from the East.

It’s also very good with raspberries or blueberries.


Pomiane’s Cherry Tart

This is based on a recipe by Pomiane, which he in turn based on a recipe given to him in his youth; allegedly how they cooked cherry tarts in the Île de France in 1860. For such a simple recipe, it’s marvellously tasty – thin chewy pastry and lots of runny juice. I’ve taken a few liberties with it.

To begin with, don’t make this with the best cherries. Those aren’t in season yet, and should simply be washed and devoured on the spot. Also, it’s quite runny, so not very portable. Assuming a six inch flan ring, you will need:

  • 300g bread dough, risen once and knocked back
  • 450g cherries, washed and stoned
  • 30g caster sugar
  • some butter to grease things

Bread dough?! Yeah. Pomiane suggests one ought to be able to order it at one’s local bakery, and apparently you can still do this in rural France. Otherwise, make a batch, and any you don’t use can be kept in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Anyway, start by stoning the cherries. There is no shame in owning a cherry stoner, unless you use it for olives, in which case I will slap you if ever I hear about it. There is no shame in donning an apron, as this is messy. There is also no shame sampling a few cherries as you go, this will tell you how sweet they are.

This is the point where I’d consider getting the oven going at 220°C for a fan forced. Elsewhere, roll out the piece of dough until it’s about ten inches in diameter, and quite thin, as though you were making a pizza base. But no holes. Ever.

Generously butter the baking sheet and the flan ring, and lay the dough on top, gently pushing it into the corners.

Use a knife or pressure of your palm against the flan ring to separate the excess dough.

Sprinkle half the sugar in, and then pack in the cherries, as tightly as they will go. If there are any spaces left, tear some cherries in half and squish the halves in. Sprinkle the rest of the sugar evenly over the top. (You may have some leftover cherries: due to a massive miscalculation I had 400g of stoned cherries left, which are now sitting in a clean jar with a generous splash of cheap vodka.)

Put the whole lot in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove, sprinkle with a few teaspoons more sugar, and leave to cool. It will have shrunk a little so it shouldn’t be too hard to ease off the flan ring.

Serve when almost cold. Mascarpone if you’re feeling fancy, but plenty of vanilla ice cream is better.


Pomiane suggests working 50g of butter into the pastry. Don’t think this is necessary. Also, his tooth is sweeter, and he recommends 50g of sugar. Not sure he’s dealing with the same sweet cherries that I get from the supermarket.

I wonder what would happen if you poured clafoutis mix into the tart before baking?


Crème Brûlée II

Have tweaked my notes on crème brûlée.

They puffed up after 45 mins at 140ºC, were promptly rescued (as soon as I could get the foccaccia dough I was kneading off my hands!) and served with no ill effect. (Although not having a test serving, I had to dish them up with fingers crossed that they hadn’t curdled.)

Still a slightly stressful pudding. Recommend you prepare one or two more than required, so you can sample in advance. That could just be my greed talking.


Pancakes

Three things.

One. Don’t feel you should only have pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. Unless you’re into shriving, and will be observing Lent sans eggs and butter. Have them often: sweet, savoury, stuffed, simple, or on fire. (The ideal Sixties dinner party should feature Delia’s cherry duck, and conclude with Crêpes Suzette.)

Two. Don’t buy ready made pancakes. Honestly. Even if your pancakes are the saddest, lumpiest, and most rubbery things to ever come forth from a frypan they will still smell good and taste good. In my case they evoke early memories of making a nuisance of myself in the kitchen, whilst Mum was busy firing up the (square!) Sunbeam electric frypan and agonising over the consistency of the batter. We could never tell, and they were always good.

Three. The procedure outlined here by Saint Nigel is stupidly easy. Any old frypan will do. (Him What Knows has six iron crêpe pans which he has been known to use all at once, but that’s when he’s feeding forty.)

That is all.