After a blog so dull, booze and fruit must surely follow.
HFW’s new book is called Three Good Things – a collection of recipes that are based on the promise of three fabulous things coming together beautifully. I have an idea for something similar: Three Nice Enough Things But I’m Not So Sure About That Combination – a book of recipes comprised of a largely unpromising combination of three ingredients.
Occasionally three coming together can be spectacular, but it usually relies on one blazing star and a couple of steady Eddies behind although once in a while three giants come together to make a reasonable noise*.
Every now and again three unpromisings just work – a school teacher, an old one-time member of the Animals and a prog rock drummer somehow come together to create this, and so too the first entry in this imaginary book, the summer pudding.
Bread, sugar, fruit. All perfectly fine, but really, this is little more than a currant sandwich, how good can it be?
As good as a pud can be, somehow.
200g caster sugar
10 thick slices of white bread, crusts removed
Put all fruit and sugar into a large stainless steel saucepan and cook over a gentle heat for 4 minutes or so until the juices begin to run and the sugar dissolved. This is the key bit: cook it only enough for the sugar to dissolve and the juices to start to run, no longer. Remove from the heat.
Line a 850ml pudding bowl with a double layer of clingfilm that overhangs the side well. Line the bottom and sides of the bowl with bread slices, slightly overlapping each – keeping one slice back for the lid.
Drain 100ml of the juice from the fruit and refrigerate. Spoon the rest of the fruit and its juice into the pudding bowl. Place a slice of bread on top and fold over the clingfilm to seal the pudding.
Place a saucer or small plate that fits into the bowl on top of this and weigh down with a bag or two of sugar. Refrigerate overnight.
When you are ready to serve the pudding, lift off the plate, peel back the clingfilm, replace the plate and invert the pudding carefully. Lift off the bowl and remove the clingfilm. Spoon over the extra juices over the pudding and serve with thick double cream and at least pretend you won’t be back in for round 2 immediately.
And now for a drink. A punch as delicious as it is easy. You do have some choices to make, but whichever you take, this will be fabulous. Honest.
Punch needs fruit, alcohol, sharp, sweet and something aromatic, and how you achieve that is largely up to you. Obviously a handful of prunes, half a Cinzano, some vinegar, a packet of Revels and a tram driver’s glove probably won’t a delightful cocktail make. But the strawberries could be raspberries, the bottle of booze can be wine, champagne, cider, perry etc, change the ratio/type of currants berries and the balance of aromatic herbs is up to you, as is how you bring sweetness to the whole. You can use more sugar but if you grow yacon or Aztec sweet herb you can use them instead. This isn’t baking – you are just adding things together until it tastes nice – throw in more mint or lemon verbena if you like . Remember: it should look, smell and taste loud.
1kg strawberries, halved
a sprinkling of sugar
grated zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
lemon verbena leaves
1 bottle still, chilled
1 bottle sparkling, chilled
yacon syrup, Aztec sweeet herb, or more sugar
Put the halved strawberries in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar, the leon zest and juice. Refridgerate for a couple of hours or overnight. Add the still and sparkling, the mint and lemon verbena, and whatever sweetness you fancy.
If you have any left, zap it in the food processor and freeze it – it is a sorbet as fine as you’ll try.
* When writing Veg Patch I described celeriac as the Eric Clapton of veg: very ordinary on its own but pretty special with Cream. Can’t understand why they cut it out.