21 June, 2008


I love parcels. It used to be you only got parcels on your birthday. Now with on-line shopping they come all the time but somehow even though I bought the contents so know what's inside I still get excited.

In the post today came Darina Allen's Ballymaloe Cookery Course. I've been coveting this book for ages. Jack (the cooking cousin) has it and every time I visit I pull it off the kitchen shelf and gaze. It's beautifully laid out, clearly written, full of lovely photographs and the ethos is all about fresh, local food. Each chapter is very well-organised with Master Recipes followed by numerous variations. There are also series of photographs on particular techniques like boning a chicken or segmenting citrus fruit. Somehow this book manages to combine thoroughness and clarity with moreishness. It is full of gorgeous photographs as well as being incredibly informative. I have lots of cookery books but I can't remember the last time I got this excited about a new one for my shelf.

I've already used it. I will admit that I was already going to make the following recipe today but I used this new book rather than any other. And this isn't very complicated but a fool shouldn't be.

Green Gooseberry and Elderflower Fool

450g (1lb) hard green gooseberries
3-4 elderflower heads tied in muslin
Syrup made with 300ml (1/2 pint) cold water and 225g (8oz) sugar
softly whipped cream

Barely cover the gooseberries and elderflowers with the syrup. Bring to the boil and cook until the fruit bursts - about 5-6 minutes. Liquidise or purée the fruit and syrup and measure. When the purée has cooled completely, add half its volume of softly whipped cream or according to taste.

I served it with a meringue made with half vanilla sugar, half light brown muscavado which has a lovely almost nutty flavour. Delicious and, best of all, the children don't like gooseberries so all the more for Tom and me!

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