Simply food

SUMMER DESSERT PERFECTION

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Editing the first video

There are literally hundreds of recipes for parfait, but I think my simple version tops them all. And for the first time, a companion video has been launched – a simple way to share cooking ideas and techniques.

First, let’s be clear what sort of dessert we’re talking about. In France, where parfait (meaning ‘perfect’) was originated, it is typically a frozen dessert, but in North America we’ve become used to a different confection, usually involving cream and fruits, layered up and served in a tall glass to make a beautiful presentation. Then a crunchy topping can be added, made from anything that comes to hand such as biscuits or cookies, sweet crackers or granola. In some of the desserts I’ve written about earlier (Pavlova and Heavenly Cream) meringue or custards were added, but today’s easy fruit parfait dessert involves no complications or even much cooking.

You can literally use any fruit that comes to hand in this version, but for this example let’s assume summer berries are plentiful and pick blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. I also love Kiwi fruit, which we can get pretty much all year round, as it adds an unusual tart bite to the mix of flavours and a bright green stab of colour to the layering. Also, you can just as easily make your parfait with yoghurt, using a plain Greek or Balkan style.

OK, it’s this simple. If you like you can first make and chill a compote of berries, by simmering the fruits for 10 minutes with a cup of sugar, until the juices are released but before the fruits loose their shape. Whip a carton of 35 per cent whipping cream and divide it into two bowls. Add a compote of fruits to one half, mixing it roughly, so that streaks of colour run through the cream. If you have a jar of store bought coulis (I sneak mine across the pond from the Chatsworth Estate Farm Shop) then you can simply use that to flavour and colour the cream and leave the berries fresh. That’s all there is to the preparation.

Then take a tall glass, a parfait glass of course if you have one, or an Irish coffee mug, or anything that will show off the layering and colours.

Place a large spoonful of plain cream on the bottom layer of each glass, then add a layer of the cream and fruit mixture, then a layer of plain fruit with a splash of coulis or fruit compote; then repeat in reverse order, so you end up with a dab of cream on top. Sprinkle on some granola, or a crumbled cookie, or just stick a biscuit in for decoration. Place a few perfect berries around the top and you’re done. Enjoy with friends (as long as they are socially distanced).

Fruit Parfait

Shopping listparfait 2

  • ½ cup blackberries, washed and rinsed
  • ½ cup blueberries, washed and rinsed
  • ½ cup raspberries, washed and rinsed
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice (optional)
  • 1 Kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced thinly
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (35 per cent) whipping cream OR 2 cups plain yoghurt

Topping

  • ½ cup of granola, or 4 cookies, such as Maria or English Tea Biscuits
  • 4 perfect mint leaves, washed (optional)
  • 12 perfect berries (2 or 3 each) or one of each or half a slice of kiwi

Preparation and cooking

  1. Save a few perfect berries for decoration. To make a fruit sauce with the remainder of the berries, first wash or rinse them and leave damp. Then simmer for 5 to 10 mins, adding in the sugar when juice starts to appear. If the berries seem to dry, add a splash of lemon juice to get the juices started. Stir well to make sure the sugar does not caramelize. Remove from heat when the berries soften but before they fall apart. Set aside to cool.
  2. Whip the cream until it is stiff.
  3. Take half the cream and half the fruit sauce and mix together roughly, so that the fruit streaks through the cream.
  4. In individual parfait glasses, place a layer of whipped cream, followed by a layer of mixed fruit and cream, followed by a layer of fruit sauce. Then layer in some Kiwi slices. Complete by reversing the order of layers: mixed fruit and cream, then cream.
  5. Keep cool until ready to serve. Top with a spoonful of granola, or crumbled cookie, and a few nice looking individual berries or half a slice of kiwi.Finish with a whole cookie and a mint leaf before presenting.
parfait 1

Featured image: Fruit parfait topped with raspberries, kiwi fruit and a sprig of fresh mint

The first in a series of brief cooking videos has also been launched: a companion to this recipe. We are also launching a new five star rating system.

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This is Nigel’s 282nd blog on Gentleman’s Portion. The SEARCH function at the top works really well, if you want to look back and see some of his previous stories. Here is the link to Market to Table: The Cookbooka bargain at $11.50. The link to Gentleman’s Portion: The Cookbook is now live, even better priced at $9.99 or £9.99.

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