Disaster. Diane phones from the airport in England. On a flying visit to see her ailing mum, she hasn’t had time to get out to the Chatsworth farm shop in Derbyshire and replenish our supplies of fruit coulis.
Chatsworth is a spectacular stately country house, more like a palace really, and the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, Peregrine and Amanda to their friends, among whom they do not count us, sadly. The last time we visited the front was covered with scaffolding and unphotogenic, we were beset by tour groups and retreated to the gardens on an appallingly hot day, unusual for England. The gardens are noted too, and we gratefully found some shade, sat on the grass and watched the fountains play.
While the house is well-worth a tour, the farm shop is what really excites a foodie. The food all comes from the estate or small local providers and everything I’ve ever bought and eaten from there has been outstanding. It is reckoned to be the best farm shop in England. The staff, some of whom undoubtedly tug their forelocks when the Duke appears, are polite and helpful and the butchers wear traditional boaters.
Back to coulis, or the lack thereof. We’ve tried the Chatsworth raspberry, mango and passion fruit, and summer fruit versions and all added an extra zing to hot desserts and ice creams. They only last about three weeks in the fridge after opening, so three jars will last us about nine weeks theoretically, if we were disciplined and opened them one after the other, rather than like kids in a candy store, opening all three at once and taste testing as an excuse for another serving of ice cream on a sweltering summer day in Toronto.
Childhood memories of a distant aunt painstakingly pureeing raspberries through a sieve have always put me off trying to make my own coulis, but needs must. In a few days we will be having a series of dinner celebrations where fresh fruit and ice cream make the perfect end to a heavy meal. Time to check out my reference books and the web. Turns out, it couldn’t be easier!
While I was thinking about smashing up ripe fresh fruit, I remembered enjoying a delicious classic English pudding called fool. It’s not named after someone silly, but probably comes from the French word ‘fouler’ meaning to press. Our friend Tessa Bramley, one of the only women chefs in England with a Michelin star, has a splendid recipe for rhubarb and ginger fool in her slim volume Traditional Puddings, which I must try one day.
But rhubarb is out of season so it’s back to the ubiquitous raspberries. The trick with fool is not to mix the mashed fruit into the whipped cream too vigorously, so that the stripes of fruit run through cream and present beautifully in a simple glass. Also, because the sweetness of fruit so depends on the season and origin, it’s critical to taste the mashed fruit and the cream constantly to get the balance right. Just don’t eat it all before you serve it!
This delicious dessert is simplicity to make too. Here are the results.
by Nigel Napier-Andrews
- 1 ½ cups fresh raspberries (and extra whole berries for garnish)
- 1/8 cup granulated sugar (or more)
- Splash of liqueur – try Grand Marnier
- 1 473 ml carton of whipping cream
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 4 cookies (your choice) for garnish
- coulis (optional) for garnish
- Wash and rinse the fresh berries thoroughly and dry on a paper towel. Tip them into a bowl and mix with granulated sugar and liqueur. Grand Marnier was what I had in the drinks cabinet, but you can use anything you like, such as Chambord raspberry liqueur or white rum. Let the fruit sit, covered in the fridge, for 15 mins to blend the flavours.
- In another bowl, sprinkle the powdered sugar into the whipping cream and whip it until it forms stiff peaks.
- Mash the berries with a fork until the purée is consistent. Spoon half the purée into the whipped cream and fold it in very gently with a rubber spatula to make red streaks through the pink cream. Then add the balance of the purée and do the same again. Absolutely do not overmix or you will just have a boring pink mess.
- Spoon the cream into a parfait glass, garnishing with a few whole berries and a cookie. If you’ve made coulis, add a swirl of coulis on top. Serve at once.
Needless to say, you can make a fool with any fresh fruits, such as the ones I’m using to make the various coulis versions below. Be adventurous and experiment. How much fun can you have with a bowl of fresh or frozen fruit and a pint of fresh thick cream?
by Nigel Napier-Andrews
- 1 pint/12 oz/340 g fresh raspberries or frozen
- 1 – 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 3 – 4 tbsp sugar (to taste depending on the sweetness of the fruit)
- Equal quantity of water
- Grenadine syrup (optional)
PREPARATION AND COOKING
1. Make a “simple syrup” by adding the sugar to boiling water and stirring until dissolved. Cool.
2. Wash the fruit thoroughly, dry excess moisture and put the raspberries in the blender. Add half the simple syrup and half the lemon juice. Blend until thoroughly pureed. Taste and add more simple syrup or lemon juice as needed (see NOTE below). The mix should be tart, rather than sweet.
3. Push the mix through a fine sieve, a little at a time, to remove the seeds. Catch it all in a bowl and then store in the fridge for up to three days in an airtight container, or freeze for up to two months.
TIP: Store in a plastic squeeze bottle so you can add the coulis to dessert plates with a professional decorative flourish.
NOTE: In the winter imported berries may not be as sweet as the summer harvest. One trick is to add a couple of tsp of grenadine syrup for flavour, colour and sweetness.
Here are some other easy variations to try when fresh fruits are available.
BLACKBERRY COULIS: Blackberries, lemon juice
SUMMER FRUITS COULIS: Black currants, red currants, raspberries (NOTE: The black and red currants will need cooking in boiling water until they burst open.)
CARIBBEAN COULIS: Mango, passion fruit, orange juice, lemon juice
This article was originally published on December 18, 2012 and has been edited and expanded, with new photographs and re-posted on October 22, 2015.
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Categories: Simply food
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