TRIO OF SCENTED SORBETS
Although these sorbets will all look similar they each have distinctive and unusual perfumes and flavours.
There are several varieties of geranium that have few or no flowers but scented leaves. There are orange and lemon scented varieties but I think the rose scented varieties, such as Attar of Roses or Lady Plymouth are the most interesting. The following recipe produces an intensive flavour reminiscent of Turkish Delight.
12 rose scented geranium leaves
8 oz/225g caster sugar
1¼ pints/700ml water
Dissolve the sugar in the water in a saucepan, then turn up the heat and boil for 10 minutes. Lightly bruise the geranium leaves and add them to the hot syrup. Cover and leave until cold. Chill the syrup in the refrigerator then strain to remove the geranium leaves.
Freeze in an ice cream maker.
Elderflower has a musky scent that people tend to either love or hate. An egg white added to the syrup before freezing produces a lighter, more delicately flavoured sorbet. Pick the elderflowers on a dry day and choose those whose creamy flowers are not yet dropping. Shake them well to displace insects.
5 elderflower heads
8 oz/225g caster sugar
1 pint/600ml water
grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1 egg white
Make a syrup from the sugar and water by boiling for 10 minutes as in the previous recipe. Add the elderflower heads and leave until cold then add the juice and rind of the lemon. Chill in the refrigerator then strain, add the loosely whisked egg white and freeze.
Although the blackcurrants themselves are not yet ripe this sorbet can be made at the same time of year as the elder flowers, just pick small light green leaves from this years growth and leave the larger leaves to shade the ripening blackcurrants. This scent of this sorbet transports me back to the blackcurrant bushes I used to play under as a child. The flavour is exquisite. I believe that peach leaves can be used in the same way although I have never tried this. Proceed as for the elderflower sorbet, substituting 3 good handfuls of blackcurrant leaves for the elderflower heads.
NECTARINE TARTE TATIN WITH LEMON VERBENA ICE CREAM
3 oz/75g vanilla sugar
1 oz/25g unsalted butter
1lb/450g puff pastry
Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas mark 6.
Choose a heavy 10″ frying pan that can be transferred to the oven.
Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the base of the pan and place over a moderate heat until the sugar has caramelised, do not stir it whilst this is happening but shake the pan occasionally to help it to brown evenly. Remove from the heat and dot with the butter.
Place half a nectarine in the centre of the pan and then arrange the rest in slices (6 per nectarine) around the outside.
Place the pan back on a very low heat for a couple of minutes whilst you roll out the pastry just fractionally larger than the pan. Lay the pastry on top of the nectarines, tucking the edge inside the pan.
Transfer the pan to the oven and cook until the pastry is risen and brown (about 20 minutes).
Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes then cover with a plate and invert.
LEMON VERBENA ICE CREAM
10 fl oz double cream
8 fl oz full cream milk
½ oz fresh verbena leaves, finely chopped
3 egg yolks
4 oz caster sugar
Scald the milk and cream before adding the chopped verbena (otherwise the mixture might split). Leave to infuse for 30 minutes.
Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and then stir in the strained cream.
Return to a heavy based pan or double boiler and cook gently until the mixture thickens slightly. Chill thoroughly before churning in an ice cream maker.
LAVENDER OR ROSE SUGAR
Gather the rose petals or lavender heads on a dry day, preferably in the morning. For rose petals snip away the hard white section at the base of each petal.
Lay the flowers on a wire cooling tray placed over a baking pan. Put them in a warm dry place – an airing cupboard is ideal if you have one, the warming drawer of an oven is another option. You don’t want much heat, so don’t worry if you only have room temperature, it will just take a little longer.
Rose petals will be dry enough to add to sugar after just a couple of hours, lavender heads are best left overnight.
When the flowers are no longer moist you can mix them with caster sugar. You can just layer the two in a jar, which enables you to sift the flowers out when you use the sugar, or, for a stronger flavour, whizz them up together in a food processor. Use two or three times as much sugar as petals. Store in an airtight jar in the larder.
There are many ways you can use the flavoured sugar, but remember that the fragrance will be reduced in cooking, so it is most effective sprinkled over a dish before serving.
4 oz butter
2 oz Lavender sugar (or a teaspoon of dried lavender)
5 oz plain flour
1 oz rice flour
You can use a food processor to mix the ingredients provided you do not over process, otherwise the mixture will become greasy and unworkable. Simply soften the butter and then add the sugar, process briefly to blend before adding the two flours and processing again briefly.
Roll the mixture out on a floured surface to give a rectangle of about 5″ x 8″ and then cut into fingers about 2½” long to make about 12 fingers.
Bake at 150ºC for 15 minutes, until lightly golden. Sprinkle with more lavender sugar whilst still warm, then move to a rack to cool.