Posts Tagged ‘sybil kapoor’

I remember gooseberries, or ‘goosegogs’ as my father calls them, from childhood. No matter how badly things were going in the rest of the fruit and veg patch (drought, deer, birds and rabbits being the main culprits) the gooseberry bushes remained resolutely unaffected. They didn’t seem to need any attention and so they got none. Even when the hairy green fruit appeared I don’t think they received anything like the drooling delight that strawberries and raspberries did. I picked them on hot sunny days when the fruit was warm, almost prickly and sickly smelling.

Now I love gooseberry fool and think of gooseberries like damsons, a quintessentially English fruit that seems to have dropped out of favour and so is hard to find in the supermarket. Such a shame as surely they are a great herald of high summer. According to Sybil Kapoor in ‘Simply British’, they are not actually native to Britain but first arrived in England in 1275 when Edward I imported some direct from France for his garden at the Tower of London. By the early eighteenth century we were addicted – gooseberry clubs were set up and the newly formed Horticultural Society of 1826 listed 185 strains in its first catalogue. As other fruits became more available throughout the year, the gooseberry suffered and again, just like the damson, you are more likely to find them now in a country garden (or kitchen) than anywhere else.

I found the berries in our farmers market but if you can’t find them there try frozen or apparently you can get tinned. I halved this recipe and used more yoghurt than cream as that happened to be the situation in my fridge. This recipe is one I made up from several others – the inclusion of lemon rind being entirely my own invention but when tasting it before putting it in the fridge it definitely needed some added sharpness. Apparently elderflower is a common partner and works well too.

Gooseberry fool

Serves 8

800g gooseberries

200g golden caster sugar

500ml double cream

500ml plain yoghurt

zest of one lemon

Put the gooseberries and sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat. Stew for 10 mins, until softened, then let them cool. Whip the cream to very soft peaks and fold in the yoghurt. Fold in three quarters of the cool gooseberries through the cream and add the lemon zest. Spoon the fool in to glasses or little bowls and spoon over the remaining berries and leave in the fridge until needed (this will help them set slightly). Serve with something like (hard) macaroons or biscotti for dunking.


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Still no sign of the little babe, who is due on Tuesday, just plenty of false alarm twinges, irritability and lack of sleep (not necessarily in that order). We seem to be living on a diet of baked potatoes and cold ham, turkey sandwiches, cheese and left over mince pies as most people probably are, but I’m starting to dread opening the fridge now. My husband has made a very good left-over sprouts soup. I’m trying to enjoy it.

In amongst all the turkey and ham I served up a game pie for my family this Christmas. The recipe comes from Sybil Kapoor’s ‘Simply British’ a beautifully written book divided into chapters by ingredients and filled with historical and literary references which make it a good read as well as a great recipe book. There are no pictures but don’t let this put you off. I’ve never been let down by her suggestions and she has a lightness of touch which means that even something like game pie, which could be just the sort of heavy stodge you don’t need at this time of year, is lightened by lemon zest, parsley and thyme. Wonderful. There are lots of traditional recipes in the book, such as potted brown shrimp and apple charlotte, but also exotic sounding ones like lavender pear ice cream or rabbit and cucumber fricassee.  So if you don’t know her do seek her out.

I had lots of partridge in my freezer so just used that and skipped the pheasant but I’ve included both here as normally I’d have some of each to use up at this time of year.  I served it with left over mash potato from Christmas and some much needed salad. The recipe is simplicity itself, just make sure you have a good pie dish and pie vent (looks like a little bird with its beak open wide) and you don’t roll the pastry too thin, which I think I did. You’ll feel like such a domestic goddess making this. If you don’t have game, there is also a wonderful recipe for chicken and leek pie in the book that I also loved.

Game pie

Serves 4

Prep: 25 mins Cooking: 1 hour

2 partridges, cleaned

4 skinned pheasant breasts

salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tbsp olive oil

10 thin slices back bacon

1 medium onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 inner sticks celery, finely sliced

2 carrots, cut into fine half moons

1 heaped tbsp plain flour

285ml/1/2 pint dry white wine

565ml/1 pint chicken stock

1 lemon, finely grated

1/4 tsp thyme leaves

3 sprigs parsley

225g/8oz chilled puff pastry

1/2 small egg beaten with 1 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7

Neatly remove the two breast fillets of each partridge by cutting along the breast bone and down the rib cage. Pull off any skin and cut into chunks. If you are confident about boning you can remove the legs and cut the meat away from the thigh bone, before skinning and dicing. The drumsticks are too small to worry about but can be use with the carcasses for a good game stock if you wish.

Cut the pheasant breasts into similar sized chunks, add to the partridge and season. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the cubes in batches until they are all lightly and evenly coloured. Remove and place in the pie dish.

Remove the fat from the bacon and cut into medium-sized dice. Fry briskly in the same oil until lightly coloured. Reduce the temperature, mix in the onion, garlic, celery and carrots. Saute gently until they begin to soften. Sprinkle with the flour, cook for a further minute, then stir in the wine. Boil vigorously until the liquid has been reduced by two-thirds. Stir in the stock, lemon zest and herbs. Continue to boil until the sauce has reduced down a little and thickened. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Pour over the diced game and mix thoroughly. If possible allow the mixture to cool before covering with pastry. [I stopped at this point and froze the pie filling then defrosted and did the pastry the day I used it].

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface in roughly the same shape as your pie dish only larger. Cut a ribbon from the edge of the dough and press it firmly on to the rim of the pie dish. Brush this with a mixture of beaten egg and milk and place a pie vent in the centre of the filling. Using a fork, firmly press around the rim so that the two pastries are glued together. Cut off the excess. Prick the lid with a knife, ensuring that the vent has a hole, and paint the crust with some more egg and milk. It can be chilled until needed at this stage.

Place in the centre of the preheated oven and bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until the pastry has puffed up and become golden. When you are serving, remember to fish out the parsley sprigs.


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