Friday, 10 June 2011

Gooseberry Fool.

The British climate is particularly well-disposed to producing perfect gooseberries - juicy, tart and full-flavoured - and over the years they have captured the hearts of Britons more than any other nationality. More recently, however, the popularity of gooseberries has waned somewhat and their unique qualities don't seem to be valued as much as they merit. I think they're due for a revival.
The gooseberry season starts with the familiar green gooseberries . These are the best ones for cooking. Use them to make a delicious gooseberry fool (see below) or poach them with a little sugar and water to make a traditional accompaniment to mackerel. Later in the season come the dessert gooseberries that are sweet enough to be eaten raw - try them in fruit salads.

Nigel Slaters recipe is both easy to follow and fool proof.

Serves 6
450g sharp cooking gooseberries
3-4 heaped tbsp sugar
300ml double cream

Top and tail 450g of sharp cooking gooseberries. Tip them in a pan with 3 or 4 heaped tbsp of sugar and one or two of water, then bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes until the fruit has burst. Cool then chill. Crush with a fork. Whip 300ml double cream till thick, but stop before it will stand in peaks. It should sit in soft folds.

Use sharp cooking gooseberries, not the sweeter, fat dessert varieties. Other than that, it is all in the whipping of the cream. Put the bowl in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes before you pour the cream in. Whip slowly, with a hand whisk. Stop once the cream starts to feel heavy on the whisk and will lie in soft, undulating folds. Fold in the fruit only when it is cool. It will curdle if still warm. Don't leave it uncovered in the fridge for long, otherwise it will absorb all the other flavours in there.

Elderflower, in the form of flowerheads simmered with the gooseberries or a drop of cordial stirred in with the cream, is a classic. Red gooseberries will produce a sweeter, slightly murky-coloured fool. The best twist is to ripple a spoonful of lightly crushed, cooked berries through the finished fool to give a ripple effect, adding texture and interest.

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