The family were coming round for a Sunday meal and I decided to go Greek style. I say ‘meal’ rather than ‘lunch’ or ‘supper’ as we tend to eat somewhere in-between. The grown-ups don’t like eating a large lunch; the little ones (Freddie 4 and Benjamin 20 months) can’t manage late. So we compromise and eat around 5.30ish.
If I ask son Jonathan what they’d like me to cook, 9 times out of 10 the answer will be ‘moussaka’. I’ve been making Claudia Roden’s moussaka since before he was born and now I feed it to his sons too. So moussaka was on the menu to be served with a Greek salad and simple green salad.
Elder grandson Freddie has a very sweet tooth. You wouldn’t guess it from his tall, wiry frame but you can easily bribe him with the promise of gelato, chocolate cake … basically any kind of dessert! My mother once told me off for bribing my own kids when they were small but honestly, how do you deal with little ones if you don’t sometimes bribe them! However, Freddie turned the tables a bit when I reported on the wonderful gelato I’d eaten every day in Florence last month: ‘Ice cream is a treat, Nonna, and just for Saturdays,’ he told me. There had been a bit of a clampdown on sweet things during my absence in Italy. Well Nonna (me!) has been guilty, it must be said, of encouraging his love of gelato, cakes and pastries, so I’m trying to make amends.
But a Sunday meal just wouldn’t be the family occasion it should be without some kind of dessert. You can lower the sugar load, though. For instance, I make apple crumbles or tarts with dessert apples so no – or very little – sugar is needed. Today with the Greek theme in mind I thought I should do something with Greek yoghurt.
A little sugar came into it, but very little – just a touch to sweeten the blueberries and encourage the compôte to go a bit syrupy; a small shower of icing sugar to sweeten the yoghurt topping. Various ideas were going round my mind as I wandered Waitrose’s aisles this morning but I finally settled on picking up a pack of Savoiardi biscuits (which I normally buy for tiramisu) to put at the bottom, making it a kind of trifle – hence ‘trifle’ in the title, but of course not a proper trifle with no custard, etc., just a lovely layered concoction of a healthier kind of sweetness.
Greek Yoghurt with Blueberry Compôte ‘Trifle’ – Makes 4-5 individual
- 225g blueberries; reserve 4-5 for decoration
- 1 dessertspoon caster sugar
- 1 dessertspoon crème de cassis
- 4-5 Savoiardi biscuits
- 250g Greek yoghurt (preferably Total)
- 1 heaped teaspoon icing sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
Have ready 4-5 tall glasses to fill with the dessert. I made 2 smaller versions (in plastic glasses!) for the little ones, otherwise the recipe will make 4 good-sized desserts for grown-ups.
Put the blueberries in a small saucepan with caster sugar and crème de cassis and cook over a gentle heat. You could use just water instead of the cassis if you don’t have any; you want just a little liquid to stop the blueberries catching. For just grown-ups you could put some cassis in at the end but it is alcoholic and therefore I wanted to burn off any alcohol because of feeding little ones.
Stir occasionally. The blueberries will release some of their juices as they cook and start to burst. Take from the heat when nicely warm, bubbling a little at the edge but some of the blueberries are still whole; don’t let it all bubble down into a mash. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Break each Savoiardi biscuit into 4 pieces and put at the bottom of the glasses.
Spoon the blueberry compôte over the biscuits in each glass.
Make the yoghurt topping. Put the yoghurt in a bowl. Sprinkle over the icing sugar and vanilla. Whisk well to mix in completely with a small whisk or spoon. This also breaks down the yoghurt a little so it isn’t too solid. I think it’s important to use real Greek yoghurt – not Greek-style. Most Greek-style yoghurts have thickening agents in them (read the label) and are not just pure, unadulterated yoghurt made from milk and cultures. The only Greek-style yoghurt I’ve found that’s pure is Yeo Valley’s but for this dessert I chose to buy Total.
Divide the yoghurt mixture between the glasses, laying it carefully on top of the compôte. Spread as gently as you can – you don’t want it to start mixing in with the fruit. Decorate with a single blueberry on top.
I covered the glass with clingfilm and put in the fridge for a couple of hours. They need this for the Savoiardi biscuits to soak up the compôte.
They were a great success. The general consensus was that they were ‘super yummy’. Freddie asked for seconds and I had to explain there were no seconds; I’d just made one each. The compôte had soaked nicely into the biscuits (which are really a kind of hard-ish sponge) and this gave a nice structure and base to the ‘trifle’. For an experiment they’d turned out remarkably – and pleasingly! – well. I liked them chilled too, which also means they’re excellent for preparing ahead, and they were wonderfully fresh tasting and summery. You could of course use other fruits. Fruits that cook well. I don’t like strawberries cooked but raspberries, plums, blackberries and even apricots would work well.