Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fooling around in the sun

For the second day running, Wellington managed to reach 20C. I had the good luck to be going out for lunch with friends who have a lovely blue tiled table on a covered courtyard, the perfect place to eat outside - especially under Lesley's baskets of cascading blue flowers.

Beneath them, we ate ittle stacks of garlicky tomato and eggplant...

... then terakihi fillets rolled around a fragrant filling of cashew nuts, chili, lime and coriander, with green salad from her sister and  brother-in-law's garden, and crisp brown foccacia...

...and palest pink fool, made from Lesley's own gooseberries (Harvey's favourite early summer treat) and rhubarb.

Fruit fools are thoroughly English desserts, and apparently gooseberry fool is the earliest kind known, dating  back to the fifteenth century. The introduction to Elizabeth David's first recipe for it (in Summer Cooking, 1955) takes you straight back to wartime privations: "Although this is a traditional English dessert it is not often well made, and owing to the lack of cream for so many years a good many people have never made it." Her later recipe in An Omelette and a Glass of Wine (1984) is a better one (I've turned the measurements to metric here).

Gooseberry fool
1kg green gooseberries
250g sugar
300ml cream 
Wash the gooseberries. There is no need to top and tail them [though Harvey always did]. Put them in the top half of a double saucepan with the sugar and steam them, or bake them in a covered glass dish in a low oven, until they are quite soft. 
Sieve them, having first strained off surplus liquid which would make the fool watery. [I think this is the point at which you should taste for sweetness and add more sugar if the puree is too acid. Harvey preferred his quite tart, I like mine a little sweeter.] 
When the puree is quite cold, add the cream. [Elizabeth David didn't whip it, but our cream is not the same as English double cream, and Lesley, like me, prefers to whip it softly before folding it into the puree.] Serve very cold.


Alessandra said...

It feels like summer here in Auckland too, finally!

best wishes for the holidays!


AnneE said...

Grazie, Alessandra, auguri anche a te!

Domestic Executive said...

I am so excited about harvesting my gooseberries this weekend. Fool is definitely on the list of recipes as well as a sauce to go with duck and also ice cream.

AnneE said...

Gooseberry sauce with duck - that sounds inspired!