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IRELAND HOPPING | By Margaret M. Johnson
Given next week’s big holiday, I should probably be writing about the 4th of July, Independence Day, red, white, and blue everything! But I’ve decided the best way to celebrate the holiday is to offer some colorful, summer fruits recipes that cover all the bases — especially the colors!
SERVES 4 TO 6
Some attribute this deliciously simple dessert to the English, but it's equally popular in Ireland. As its name indicates, colorful summer fruits like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries are the main ingredients. But don’t be fooled by the word “pudding” in its name since the dessert is actually made with white bread! After the fruit and bread have mingled overnight, the result is a colorful and unusual dessert that almost looks too pretty to eat. I’ve been a fan since 1999 when the recipe first appeared in my Irish Heritage Cookbook.
6 cups mixed berries
3/4 cup sugar
24 slices firm white bread, crusts removed
Whipped cream or clotted cream for serving
- In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the berries and sugar. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the berries begin to break down and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
- Line a 1-quart mold (a soufflé dish, mixing bowl, or charlotte mold can be used) with plastic wrap. Cut 16 slices of bread in half to form 2 triangles each. Cut remaining slices in half to form 2 rectangles each.
- Place half of the triangles on the bottom of the mold to cover it completely. Place the rectangles around the side of the mold, overlapping each piece. Spoon the berries into the mold. Arrange the remaining bread triangles over the top and cover with plastic wrap.
- Set mold on a plate to catch any juices that spill out. Lay another plate on top and place a weight on it (use a can of coffee or beans) to ensure that the bread absorbs all the juices. Refrigerate overnight.
- To unmold, remove the plastic wrap from the top. Invert the mold onto a clean serving plate. Remove plastic wrap from the rest of the pudding. Cut into wedges and serve with the cream.
PHOTO: MARGARET M. JOHNSON
SUMMER FRUIT SPONGE PUDDINGS
MAKES 6 PUDDINGS
One of my favorite summer desserts is one that combines a "sponge" cake batter with the bounty of summer fruits. These little puddings are made in a bain marie (water bath), which contributes to slow, even cooking.
8 tablespoons. butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon milk
8 ounces mixed berries
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving
- Preheat oven 325° F. Generously butter six (4-ounce) ramekins.
- In a medium bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy. Add eggs, beating well after each addition, and then beat in flour, baking powder, and milk to make a smooth batter. Spoon 1 tablespoon batter into each of the prepared dishes, divide berries over top, and then cover with remaining batter.
- Put dishes in a large baking pan, add enough hot water to come halfway up the side of the dishes, and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the puddings are lightly browned and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
- To serve, run a knife around the sides of the dishes and turn each pudding out onto a dessert plate. Return puddings to upright and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
COURTESY OF CHRONICLE BOOKS
GRATIN OF SUMMER FRUITS WITH IRISH MIST SABAYON
One of Italy’s great gifts to the dessert world is zabaglione, a heavenly combination of egg yolks, sugar, and Marsala wine whisked over simmering water to a pale, yellow froth. In France and other parts of the world, the sauce is called sabayon. A delicious substitute for Marsala is Irish Mist liqueur, a blend of Irish whiskey, herbs, and botanicals. This recipe, which first appeared in The New Irish Table, is a breeze to assemble and impressive to serve.
1 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 cup blueberries
1 cup blackberries
For the sabayon
6 large egg yolks
5 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Irish Mist liqueur
1/2 cup dry white wine
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Mint springs, for garnish
Shortbread cookies, for serving (optional)
- Divide the fruit among 6 (8-ounce) heatproof bowls. Set aside.
- Make sabayon. In a double boiler, whisk together yolks, sugar, Irish Mist, and wine. Place over simmering, not boiling, water and whisk for 8 to 10 minutes, or until thick, pale, and creamy.
- Preheat broiler. Spoon sabayon over the fruit. Place dishes on a baking sheet 4 inches from the heat source; leave for about 2 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned.
- To serve, dust with confectioners' sugar and garnish with sprigs of mint. Serve with shortbread cookies, if desired.
Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page now includes “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, including how to order her cookbooks, visit www.irishcook.com.
PHOTO: MARGARET M. JOHNSON