My local farmers’ market in Twickenham had some wonderful produce this weekend and I bought some gorgeous things, including the little iambor – buffalo cheese – that I used in the Griddled Aubergine Salad I made on Saturday. The Chegworth Valley stall had wonderful salad leaves – you can buy a mixed bag or mix your own from a selection – and also brightly coloured edible flowers, like nasturtiums, to brighten the greens up. They had some gorgeous summery yellow courgettes as well as green ones and fabulous strawberries and raspberries.
On another stall I found some red gooseberries and couldn’t resist them. What I’d do with them, I’d consider later! I also bought a kohlrabi and have plans for that tomorrow. It was another hot sunny morning and the market was a riot of glorious colour as if in celebration of summer.
I tasted the gooseberries once home and found this red variety was sweeter than the usual green, but weren’t quite sweet enough to eat raw, so I decided to make a compote with them. Gooseberries with their sharp acidity are often partnered with oily fish like mackerel. In England they’ve been traditionally made into fools in the summer, a simple case of mixing the cooked fruit with custard and cream. That was kind of where I was heading but instead of a fool, I wanted to make a panna cotta to serve with the gooseberry compote. I’d thought of adding some elderflower cordial to the dish, as elderflower goes well with gooseberries, but in the heatwave we are currently experiencing in London, the supermarket shelves were empty of all things elderflower – and almost out of bottled water. I decided instead to add some honey to my panna cotta. I’d bought some delicious Sicilian Orange Blossom Honey at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show a couple of weeks ago so would use that.
First of all I made my gooseberry compote. I topped and tailed the gooseberries and put them in a saucepan with just a couple of dessertspoons of caster sugar and a little water.
I cooked them on a simmer until the fruit was breaking up and soft. I tipped them into a sieve catching the juices which I returned to the pan and bubbled away on a high heat to thicken, then poured it over the fruit and left to cool in the fridge.
For the panna cotta I used the same recipe I used for Vanilla Panna Cotta and Baked Plums and also (please click on this post for the recipe and instructions) Pears Poached with Cardamon & Set Yogurt Pudding, but with an adjustment as I was adding honey. Instead of 90g caster sugar, I added 70g and then 2 tablespoons of the honey. I like this yogurt-based panna cotta. It may not be traditional but it’s not as rich as the all-cream kind and as a family, we prefer it. I once gave it to an Italian friend who said it was the best panna cotta he’d ever had, so if even an Italian approves it has to be good! Once the panna cotta was made I poured it into dessert glasses and put them in the fridge to set, covered in cling film. For serving, I spooned over the gooseberry compote.
I thought the mixture would make 4 desserts but I ended up with 6. I texted Jonathan suggesting he popped over and took some for him and Lyndsey. Luckily for me this earned me an invitation to supper – and of course I would take dessert! We all loved it. The tartness of the gooseberries was perfectly complemented by the richness of the panna cotta with the sweet honey. It was quite divine. I shall have to make some more!!