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Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

Elegant simplicity

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Rhubarb is rarely elegant. When growing it is generally rampant, with solid, ribbed stems and aggressively bushy heads. When cooked it disintegrates quickly into soft, stringy strands, of an unappealing green. Poached though, lightly cooked in a boiling syrup for a minute or two, it retains its shape, with just the tiniest bite to it. The colours are more nuanced too, with the pinker pieces standing out against the murkier green ones, adding a flash of colour. The result is almost dainty. Served with yoghurt or a tiny shortbread biscuit this makes an elegant dessert for those of you with rhubarb stashed in your freezer.

Poached rhubarb
From Chocolate and Zucchini

Ingredients
5 tablespoons sugar
250ml water
1 head lemon verbena
4 sticks rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch chunks

Method
1. In a small saucepan dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to a boil. Add the lemon verbena and carefully spoon the rhubarb pieces into the syrup, about 6 at a time, and poach for 2-3 minutes (4 if frozen) or until they give under a spoon but are still in tact. Remove with a slotted spoon and repeat with the remaining rhubarb.

Serves 2. Serve with yoghurt or shortbread. The poaching syrup can be used in cocktails.

Written by guffblog

22nd August 2011 at 16:14

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Wimbledon

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Like every other gluten-free blog around I couldn’t let the final day of Wimbledon pass without mention of Djokovic’s win (hooray) and inevitable uptick in badly written, sloppily researched and generally misinformed articles about gluten and gluten-free food it will no doubt generate (boo). I’ll keep my rage in check until I read any of the aforementioned articles. For now though I shall talk about strawberries. And cream. A food so closely entwined with the Wimbledon fortnight that M&S this year made it into a sandwich. That’s right, strawberries and cream between two slices of thick white bread. Whilst this sounds a little odd, it’s not so far off that southern American dish, the strawberry shortcake, which is, as far as I can tell anyway, a cross between shortbread and a scone, halved, and stuffed with strawberries, whipped cream, and perhaps a little fruit syrup. It therefore seems fitting at the close of Wimbledon, with a gluten-free winner no less, and it being Independence Day as well, that gluten-free strawberry shortcakes are made. I’m not quite sure what my excuse is going to be next time I want to make these (and I will be looking to do so quite soon) but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Strawberry shortcake
Shortcake recipe adapted slightly from Baking: From My Home to Yours, via Orangette

These shortcakes are not to be confused with shortbread. In fact the name shortcake is, for once in the world of food, rather apt. They are a biscuity cake, very light and flaky and fragile due to the awesome fat content, from bringing the dough together with double cream, rather than milk or water. Due to the baking powder though they do rise and spread a touch, as evidenced by the beautiful cracking on the surface, meaning the overall product just hints at sconiness. Needless to say, although you may be able to carefully balance the lid of the shortcake on the fruit and whipped cream for decorative purposes, on no account should you attempt to eat this like a sandwich; this is a dish for a fork and spoon only.

Ingredients
150g (1 cup) gluten-free flour blend
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch salt
3 tablespoons butter
100ml double cream

To serve
100g strawberries, hulled and halved
100ml double cream, softly whipped
I also added a tablespoon of redcurrant sauce over the strawberries, but Molly suggests macerating them for 15 minutes in sugar before serving, or you could have them dry.

Method
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 220 C. In a large bowl whisk together the gluten-free flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut the butter into chunks and rub into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

2. With a fork stir in most of the 100ml of double cream. When the mixture starts to come together, knead it with your hands. Add enough cream so that the dough is cohesive and a little sticky.

3. Using your fingers break the dough into 4 even pieces. Shape each of these into rough rounds, about the size and shape of an ice hockey puck, 1 inch high, and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 17 minutes, or until a light sandy colour.

4. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking sheet. When ready to serve very carefully cut them in half with a big knife. Arrange the strawberries on the bottom half of the shortcake, drizzle with fruit sauce, or strawberry syrup, top with a tablespoon of the whipped cream and balance the lid on top. Then dive in with a fork and make a big mess.

Serves 4. The shortcakes last for (at least) a day at room temperature but taste best the day they’re made.

Written by guffblog

4th July 2011 at 18:45

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Wibble wobble

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When I think of milk I generally don’t think of jelly. Milk is meant to be liquid, and the only time it’s not is when it’s congealed in the bottom of the bottle after too long in the fridge. Obviously a winning introduction to a dessert. But the idea of milk jelly intrigued me – we have fruit jellies and they’re so commonplace you can even get ready-made (or at least, almost ready-made) cubes of the stuff to mix up at home, as if stirring gelatine into fruit juice was too complicated for the average person. And yet milk jellies have been consigned to the history books, along with junket and syllabub. I’m not really sure why, they’re ridiculously easy to make and for those of us in need of extra calcium, something different to do with milk. I think this method would work very well with cocoa and a bit of sugar added, to make a sort of chocolate milk jelly, but I’ve yet to try that variation.

Lemon verbena milk jellies with rhubarb compôte
Adapted from Food for Friends and Family

I forwent the honey and sugar in the jellies; it didn’t seem necessary since milk is hardly bitter. The result is a jelly that tastes more of the delicate lemon verbena and dairy than of sugar, which is how I like it. Make sure you use the freshest milk you have though; any hint of sourness will be noticeable.

Ingredients
400ml milk (I used semi-skimmed, it’s just what I had)
5-6 heads lemon verbena
1 sachet gelatine

Compôte
100g rhubarb
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Method
1. In a small saucepan bring the milk to a simmer. Turn off the heat and add the lemon verbena to the milk. Leave to sit and steep for an hour or until the milk is cool.

2. When the milk is cool remove the lemon verbena. Put the milk back on a medium heat and whisk in the gelatine until completely dissolved. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Once the gelatine has dissolved pour the milk into 2 large ramekins and leave in the fridge for at least 3 hours, or overnight, to set.

3. To make the compôte place the rhubarb, sugar and lemon zest in a saucepan. Cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft and yielding. To serve upend the ramekins on a plate and serve with a couple of spoonfuls of compôte.

Serves 2.

Written by guffblog

29th May 2011 at 20:05

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Sweet as pie

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Rhubarb season is in full swing and to make the most of this very British vegetable I make sure I buy some each week at the moment. Of course, this does rather leave me scratching my head over what to do with it all. While I have seen some interesting savoury recipes for rhubarb (being a tart beast it makes a really good accompaniment for fatty meats such as duck as a sauce) I am still plodding along the dessert route, and decided to make a pie.

The combination of rhubarb and strawberry is classic, and for good reason; the sweet strawberries contrast beautifully with the tart rhubarb. I deliberately used minimal sugar to highlight the contrast between the bitter and the sweet and it worked well. To make it a little different I also used aromatic lemon and rosemary sugar in the filling. The rosemary worked surprisingly well with the rhubarb, enhancing its vegetable side and giving the pie an almost savoury edge. Whilst this is definitely a dessert, it’s a subtle one, and won’t leave you on a sugar high.

Rhubarb and strawberry pie

This pie is a great way to use strawberries which are a little past their best; sweet squishy strawberries balance out the tartness of the rhubarb perfectly.

Ingredients
Pastry
40g butter, cubed
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 egg (yes, really, crack it, mix it and use the rest to glaze; alternatively use 1 tablespoon milk)
Pinch of salt
60g gluten-free flour blend
1 teaspoon cold water

Filling
200g rhubarb stems, trimmed and chopped into chunks
100g strawberries, hulled and halved
2 tablespoons sugar
Zest of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon rosemary

Method
1. Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, then stir in the salt and flour blend. Bring the dough together; if it is a little dry and crumbly add the water until it is a smooth, cohesive ball. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 180 C. To make the filling put the rhubarb and strawberries in the base of a 7-inch pie dish. With your fingertips rub the lemon zest and rosemary into the sugar until well mixed in. Sprinkle the aromatic sugar evenly over the fruit.

3. Roll out the pastry to an 8-inch circle. Lay this over the fruit, cutting a hole in the centre for steam to escape. Brush the top of the pastry with a little egg wash or milk for glaze, then bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.

4. Remove from the oven, leave to cool for 5 minutes, and serve with a little single cream.

Serves 4-6 for dessert. The flavours, if possible, improve after a day in the fridge.

Written by guffblog

16th May 2011 at 20:45

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Raw

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We hear so much about how raw food is supposed to be good for you – it’s got more nutrients, the enzymes in it aren’t denatured by cooking, it has more taste – and none of it has me convinced. Raw vegetables are great, sashimi, yum, fresh fruit, fab, but at the end of the day I like most of my food to be cooked, especially if it’s a tart. However, this recipe had me intrigued; not only does it involve no cooking (given the desiccated coconut and dates were probably dried in an industrial drier at about 400 degrees it’s probably a stretch to say it’s truly, completely raw) but the chocolate filling is made with avocado. I’m delighted to report that it actually tasted really nice (no hint of avocado-ness in there) and definitely hit the dessert spot, without being too sweet. Of course, if you need something unhealthy in there you could always add some whipped cream, or a bit more honey, without feeling too guilty.

Raw strawberry chocolate tart
From Clean Green Simple

Whilst this tart is not rich in the sense of lots of fat, it is very high in protein and full of fruit and for that reason will fill you up much more quickly than the same-sized portion of a sugary, carbohydratey chocolate tart. So keep the servings on the small side.

Ingredients
Base
1 cup walnuts
6 dates
1/2 cup desiccated coconut

Filling
1 ripe avocado, chopped
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons milk
Pinch of salt
200g strawberries, cleaned and sliced

Method
1. In a food processor blend the walnuts, desiccated coconut and dates until they form a crumbly, sticky paste. You might like to leave a few walnuts in bigger chunks, to add interest, though the base will be more crumbly if you do this. Press this into a 7-inch tart tin with a removable base and leave to set in the fridge for 20 minutes.

2. Make the filling by mashing the avocado with the cocoa powder, honey and salt. Pour in the milk, a little at a time; add more if you want the filling to be a little creamier, and mash until the mixture is completely smooth, with no lumps. Spread the filling over the base.

3. Arrange the sliced strawberries decoratively on top of the filling and return tart to the fridge until ready to serve.

Serves at least 6. This keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days without the strawberries; the strawberries will dry out if they sit on top for more than a day though.

Written by guffblog

2nd May 2011 at 20:19

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