MACKEREL WITH GOOSEBERRY SAUCE
Pairing Mackerel with Gooseberries (or sometimes Rhubarb) seems to be a West Country tradition. The sour flavour cuts the oiliness of the mackerel perfectly.
675g/1½ lb culinary gooseberries
25g/1 oz butter
sugar (to taste)
salt, pepper, ginger or nutmeg
salt and pepper
Top and tail the gooseberries then wash them and place them in a saucepan with the butter. Cover and cook over a low heat until they begin to soften and the juices run. Remove the lid and continue to simmer until the gooseberries have collapsed and most of the liquid has evaporated. Since the sharpness of the gooseberries will vary it is difficult to be precise about the amount of sugar they may need but the point of the sauce is that is makes a sharp counterpoint to the oily mackerel. Therefore add it just half a tablespoon at a time with the salt, pepper and ginger or nutmeg. Keep warm or reheat when needed.
Prepare the cleaned mackerel by cutting a couple of diagonal slashes into the flesh on each side and season inside and out. Cook on a hot barbeque or under a preheated grill for about 8 minutes a side.
GOOSEBERRY AND ELDERFLOWER ICE CREAM
12 oz/350g dessert gooseberries
9 fl oz/250ml full cream milk
Pinch of salt
9 fl oz/250ml double cream
5 egg yolks
3.75 fl oz/100 ml elderflower syrup
Sugar to taste – depending upon the sweetness of the gooseberries and also of the elderflower syrup, this may range from none up to about 3 oz/75g
Put the gooseberries in a saucepan (no need to top and tail), with a splash of water to prevent them sticking. Cook over a low heat until they are soft. Drain off the juice (I keep this for making jelly, especially if I am making other gooseberry recipes at the same time). Pass the gooseberries through a sieve – you need 100ml/3.75 fl oz of purée.
Whilst the gooseberries are cooking you can heat the milk with the vanilla pod and salt to just below boiling point. The vanilla pod can be washed and used again (store in a jar of caster sugar). Whisk the egg yolks and elderflower syrup together then pour on the hot milk. Return the mixture to a clean saucepan and heat gently, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens enough to just coat the back of the spoon.
Taste the gooseberry purée and sugar to taste before stirring in the custard. Bear in mind that once frozen the taste will seem slightly less sweet (the salt included earlier was to enhance the perception of sweetness).
Stir the purée into the custard and chill thoroughly. When completely chilled, add the cream and then churn until frozen (or serve unfrozen as a Fool). If you do not have an ice-cream maker, lightly whisk the cream before folding into the custard. Freeze the mixture until the edges are icy then use a fork to mix the frozen part into the rest of the mixture – repeat this process once or twice more as the mixture freezes.
GOOSEBERRY AND ELDERFLOWER MERINGUE PIE
Makes 6 (large) individual pies
8 oz/225g plain flour
5 oz/140g butter
2½ oz/70g caster sugar
1 large egg yolk
2 lb/1kg gooseberries
9 fl oz/250 ml elderflower syrup
caster sugar (approx 300g/12 oz)
5 egg whites
10 oz caster sugar
Make the pastry in a food processor and then rest in the fridge.
Top and tail the gooseberries and then put them in a pan with the elderflower syrup. Unless the gooseberries are a dessert variety they will need some sugar too.
Cook gently to dissolve the sugar and then more rapidly, without a lid, until the gooseberries are soft and the elderflower syrup reduced. Cool.
Roll out the pastry and use to line individual pie dishes, or one large dish. Return to the refrigerator to rest while you preheat the oven to 190° C.
Bake the pastry blind for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven whilst making the meringue but turn the heat up to 200°C.
Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, then add half of the sugar whilst continuing to whisk. Fold in the remaining half.
Fill the pies with gooseberry compôte and top with the meringue. Return to the oven for 5 minutes until the meringue is crisp and brown. It can be served at this point, i.e. whilst the meringue is still soft but I prefer it a little crisper which can be achieved by turning the heat down very low and leaving the topping to dry out somewhat.
Gooseberry, Meadowsweet and Wild Strawberry Jelly
This recipe requires only the juice that will have been exuded when cooking gooseberries for a pie or other dishes. You will need at least half a pint of juice to make it worth making the jelly. Sterilise small jars and keep them in a low oven whilst you make the jelly.
Depending on the dish for which the gooseberries were originally intended, meadowsweet may be added whilst the gooseberries are cooking (about 10 heads per pound of gooseberries). Alternatively you can infuse the hot juice with them now and then remove and strain the juice before proceeding to make the jelly.
Measure the juice and add sugar at the rate of 8 oz per half pint of juice.
Heat gently, stirring until all of the sugar has dissolved. When the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat so that the jelly comes to a rolling boil. It will take no time at all to reach setting point (105˚C). When setting point has been reached, remove the jelly from the heat and stir in as many wild strawberries as you have been able to muster. Skim any scum from the surface of the jelly. Let the jelly cool for no more than 5 minutes, this will help the strawberries disperse evenly throughout the jelly rather than floating to the top.
Pour into the warm jars, but do not seal until completely cold. In the meantime cover the jars with a clean cloth.