It's a fabulous year for gooseberries isn't it? They flowered up at the allotment in profusion, so the bees were very busy around them earlier this year. Their hard work paid off and I have the best crop ever.
I'm growing an older variety called 'Whinham's Industry', which delivers smaller, sweeter berries that are deep red in colour. They cook into a lovely rich, jewel-like sauce, which I've used to make this very simple recipe.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 12oz gooseberries, topped and tailed
- 4 meringue nests (or you could make your own using half of this recipe)
- A good dollop of half-fat creme fraiche per person - mine came courtesy of winning the fab competition Mark and Gaz hosted recently :)
- Brown granulated sugar to taste (or whatever you have to hand)
- A splash of water
- Place the gooseberries in a pan with a splash of water - you need just enough to make sure the gooseberries don't stick to the pan before they release their juices
- Slowly bring the gooseberries to the boil, stirring until the juices are released
- Turn down the heat to a simmer
- Add sugar to taste - enough to take the edge of any tartness present without masking the rich flavour of the gooseberries. Remember the meringue will add some further sweetness, so you don't need to be too heavy handed
- Simmer the gooseberries for about 5 minutes - until they're thoroughly pulped and you have a sauce that's about as thick as a coulis (there's no need to sieve out the skins and seeds though)
- Leave the gooseberries to cool and then refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, preferably overnight
- To serve, place the meringue nests in the bottom of 4 bowls, add a quarter of the gooseberry sauce to the top of each nest and allow to ooze attractively over the side. Top with a generous dollop of creme fraiche and enjoy!
- Add a quarter of a pint of custard to the cooled gooseberries and the creme fraiche and mix together thoroughly to make a gooseberry fool. This can be served on its own or with the nests
- Substitute any other seasonal fruit you have to hand, such as raspberries
- Use the gooseberries, creme fraiche and meringues with strawberries to make a variation of Eton Mess