What fruity delight will tickle our fancy from the ‘summer fruits special’ Issue No.185 of Guardian Feast?
Well, it’s hot, we have a gallon of cream (this happens when The Husband is in charge of the weekly supermarket shop), a bar of Bourneville, a couple of punnets of almost pre-macerated raspberries, a slightly mangy lime and the tail end of a bottle of tequila.
Hello, Thomasina Miers’ semifreddo with chocolate drizzle and raspberries. I’d say this is the perfect pud to serve at a dinner party. It’s easily made in advance and it tastes so gooooooooooooooooood!
We used to have an ice cream maker. Goodness knows where it is. I’m put off ice cream making without the trusty whirring paddle because of all the freezing-beating-freezing-beating palaver. Fortunately Thomasina’s semifreddo requires no in-out-beat-it-all-about stuff: you make the custard and stick it in the freezer till it’s done. Then add the other bits. My kind of frozen cream. Just make sure you allow for the four hours freezing time (although, as Thomasina says, overnight is even better).
And then the raspberries:
Finally the chocolate:
This is a clever pud – no ingredient dominates but all enhance the overall flavour. I love the way the cool semifreddo takes charge and solidifies the melted chocolate as you drizzle it on. My lime zest went in the marinating raspberries. I’m guessing Thomasina sprinkled hers over the finished semifreddo. No matter, a sprig of basil delivered a splendidly festive effect!
I enjoyed the eating of it so much, I had two slices. If I made it again (and I can’t think of a reason not to!), I’d use a better quality dark chocolate. We happened to have the Bourneville in stock, but it’s a tad sweet against the overall creamy fruitiness.
I’m often drawn to the ideas of Thomasina Miers’ The simple fix meals in Guardian Feast but seldom seem to cook them. I think it’s something to do with the fact that they look like something I might put together myself without the aid of a recipe.
This attitude has probably meant I’ve missed many a super meal. Thomasina is the queen of the unobtrusive finishing touch which turns simple into superlative. In the case of her peppers stuffed with olives and goat’s cheese it’s the transformative green sauce that steals the show.
We’ve arrived at Issue No.184 in my attempt to cook at least one recipe each week from Guardian Feast magazine.
The Husband announced that he’d bought pointy peppers from the supermarket shop so it was serendipity that Feast fell open at Thomasina’s recipe.
One of this recipe’s strengths is that you can pretty much get everything done while the potatoes cook and the pepper halves get their first 15-minute softening roast. In a sense, you’re creating a vegetarian potato hash to fill the peppers with – but the marriage of flavours in Thomasina’s Mexican inspired peppers stuffed with olives and goat’s cheese is truly sublime. The pickle-herb-heat riff rocks.
The Husband is still muttering under his breath about capers: ‘How could I let us run out? Running out of capers is practically a crime against humanity.’ Unfazed by this calamity, I used the handful of capers we had and upped the quantity of pitted green olives. We also only had three pointy peppers rather than the required five. One pepper is diced and used in the stuffing – fortunately I had a jar of roasted red peppers in stock and used one of those chopped in the hash mix.
No fresh oregano lurking in the recesses of the fridge or garden either – I used dried alongside the fresh tarragon and parsley.
While the peppers are taking their second roasting – this time fully stuffed – you have plenty of time to neck a glass of the tipple of your choice and make the green sauce. Who’d have thought that blitzing garlic, oil, capers (erm, olives), lemon juice and chilli would create the dream topping? Student Daughter declared she’d ‘happily eat this again’ – and she doesn’t even like tarragon.
Just one word of caution. This is, as billed, a simple recipe. However, it does use quite a lot of pots and implements in the creation – well worth it in my opinion but also worth knowing when you start the prep.
As for Thomasina’s suggestions for using up the leftover stuffing and sauce during the rest of the week… we wolfed the lot in one sitting!
I’m celebrating my love of the food columns and supplements in The Guardian by trying to cook at least one recipe from each issue of Guardian Feast in 2021. Find out a bit more about that here.
I tackled three recipes from Guardian Feast Issue No.158: Rachel Roddy’s citrusy Budini di riso fiorentini (little rice pudding tarts), Thomasina Miers’ lip-smacking Savoy cabbage and fennel sausage ‘lasagne’, and Yotam Ottolenghi’s rich and dreamy Macaroni with yoghurt and spicy lamb. Read on to find out how I got on and which recipes hit the spot. Link to original recipes at the end of the post.
I’ve never been a great one for making pastry. It does, however, remind me of my lovely mum. When we were little, she always seemed to be wearing an apron dusted with flour and making pastry of some sort for something: steak and kidney pie, sausage rolls, apple pie, jam tarts. Let’s face it, back in the 60s pastry was a good cheap filler.
My participation in Mum’s very own Great British Bake Off was limited. Once I’d graduated from turning pastry offcuts into grey bobbly blobs, carefully arranged on a tray and baked in the oven (and always semi raw in the middle when they came out), I was allowed to rub the fat into the flour. I found it tedious. Mum always had to redo my rubbing. I still leave a lump of butter or six – nuggets of gold – in my bowl of ‘moist sand’.
Reading Rachel’s wonderful build up to the recipe for little rice pudding tarts gives me a false sense of peace and security. Additionally, these little tarts give me a warm glow as they remind me of pastel de nata – those delicious Portuguese tarts which I’ve enjoyed cooking with my youngest daughter.
But it was time to stop procrastinating and get on with the recipe. I feel the tension build: I can’t do pastry, there’s lots of stages to this and I’ll get it in a muddle. I breathe deep and think of my friend Pauline Beaumont, author of Bread Therapy: The Mindful Art of Baking Bread. Pauline advocates that baking is a stress buster and if approached mindfully can help us cope with the setbacks and imperfectness of life. My tendency is to try to ‘get ahead’ with recipes, but I determine to follow Rachel precisely. No running around with pastry daggings hanging off my hands grabbing forgotten items – I get all the ingredients out upfront and lay them out neatly.
Yes, the pudding rice went out of date in 2018 and there’s not quite enough but… I hum a happy tune, use the rice anyway and top it up with arborio – fine, right? One other little thing, Billy the fruit and veg man at Berwick’s depleted Saturday market has only Seville oranges. I understand there’s just a tiny window to make marmalade from this fruit but (hangs head) I’ve never really engaged. But Seville orange instead of ordinary and sweet sherry instead of vino santo – all good, yes?
Rice pudding tarts a la Jackie – I rather like the art-deco look of my blind-baked pastry cases
As you’ll note from the pictures above, I did blind bake the buttery sweet pastry. Not altogether successfully. Ah, well, ‘we move’ as my youngest daughter has taken to saying. The final result was pretty good, I think. The daughters felt the rice was a bit al dente (maybe to do with the date – I certainly cooked it for what felt like forever). I was rather partial to the effect of the Seville orange – a bit like a citrus version of the famous numbing Szechuan peppercorn. The Husband declared the pastry ‘like shortbread biscuits’. Perhaps pastry and I will eventually reach a truce.
Next up, Thomasina Miers’ savoy cabbage and fennel sausage ‘lasagne’. This turned out to be a delicious and pretty easy supper. It feels as if it’s going to take ages with the blanching of individual cabbage leaves and so forth but all very manageable. I’m not used to tipping milk along with the tomatoes into a meaty sauce, so that was a bit of a revelation. I did double up as suggested by Thomasina. In these lockdown days, the four of us also eat lunch together, so it’s handy to over-cater the night before.
As you’ll see from the pics, my ‘lasagne’ was a lot sloppier than Thomasina’s, but that was probably my use of a tin of lentils from my cupboard. I assume Thomasina used dried lentils in the original (note to recipe writers – it’s useful to know these things). We all enjoyed the zing of the fennel seeds and were surprised at how effective cabbage leaves are as a sub for pasta. I used goats cheese I had in stock instead of ricotta – I can only get ricotta from the supermarket and it’s not supermarket week. Definitely on my list as a go-to easy-ish supper dish. However, the daughters declared that Yotam’s recipe (see below) trumped Thomasina’s.
My take on Thomasina Miers’ ‘lasagne’ made with cabbage leaves, sausages and fennel.
And, finally, Yotam’s macaroni with yoghurt and spicy lamb – probably the overall favourite of the week in a strong selection. It was interesting to make two recipes involving layering and dairy in the meat sauces (this one and Thomasina’s above) – and creating such different effects. I used fischiotti pasta (because that’s what we had) not sedanini – but any tuby pasta’s good, I think. Also I had no fresh coriander but had picked up a bag of frozen last time I was in our nearest food shop – Iceland – it worked fine.
The eldest daughter made positive murmurings about the ‘flavour profile’ of Yotam’s robust comfort dish and also enjoyed the texture the pine nuts delivered. It was quite a faff to make – so many largish pots crammed on the cooker at once – and I was glad it was a Friday night rather than a weekday ordinaire. And, just one thing, Yotam: ‘roughly grated tomatoes’? I mean, I did grate a couple and put the skins to one side (see pic below) but then I thought: dang it, I’ve got the processor out to finely chop the veg (which works a dream, by the way!) might as well make the most of it. So, in the tomatoes went, skins and all. It made the getting out, washing up and putting away of the processor worthwhile.