Nigel Slater’s recipes for marinated raspberries, and peaches with sesame snaps
Ihad come back from the shops with fruit: gooseberries for a crumble-topped cake, cherries to eat with a log of Scottish goat’s milk cheese and a paper bag of passionfruit to squeeze over ice-cream. There were cardboard punnets of raspberries, too – and white peaches that I carried home in a box, like a tray of eggs.
It was something of a haul, but then it often is at this time of year, when locally grown fruits turn up in quantity and at a reasonable price. In the end, the passionfruit were cut in half and squeezed, and the juice and seeds from it were stirred into a raspberry purée, somehow making the fruits’ floral notes sing even louder.
This glowing sauce was used as a marinade for more of the berries and, later, as the sauce element of an unusually restrained version of peach melba (hold the whipped cream).
With each bowl of soft fruit I bring to the table I like to include something crisp alongside. Almond shortbread with the first wild strawberries; pistachio biscotti on the edge of a plate of stewed apricots, or hazelnut cookies with a blackberry and fig salad.
This week I made huge curls of sesame snaps as thin as a butterfly’s wing to offer with peaches poached with a lemongrass syrup. Those marinated raspberries inspired tiny chocolate nut cookies, barely bigger than marbles, to eat alongside.
Raspberries with passionfruit and orange chocolate pistachio cookies
Serves 4, makes 36-40 small cookies
For the fruit:
passionfruit 8, ripe and wrinkled
orange 1, small (optional)
For the cookies:
soft brown sugar 75g
caster sugar 75g
plain flour 250g
bicarbonate of soda ½ tsp
dark chocolate 150g
pistachios 75g (shelled weight)
You will also need a baking sheet, lined with baking parchment.
Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6. Cream the butter and sugars together until light and the colour of milky coffee. Break the egg into a small bowl, mix the white and yolk together with a fork, then combine with the butter and sugar.
Mix the flour and bicarbonate of soda together and fold into the creamed butter and sugar mix. Chop the chocolate and pistachios into small nuggets then fold into the cookie dough with 2 drops of vanilla extract.
Take 1 heaped tsp at a time of the mixture and make into small balls, setting them out on the baking sheet, leaving room for them to spread. (I cook 12 at a time on a 30 x 30cm baking sheet.) Bake for about 8 minutes, until each cookie is pale and lightly risen. Remove the tray from the oven and leave to settle for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Continue with the next batch. They will keep in a biscuit tin for several days.
To make the fruit: reduce half the raspberries to a purée in a food processor. Halve the passionfruit. Remove the seeds and juice, putting them in small sieve or large tea strainer over a small bowl. Stir the pulp firmly until you are left with an almost dry mass of seeds and you have about 150ml of vivid orange juice.
Stir the passionfruit juice into the raspberry purée. Taste for sweetness. If you’d like a little more sweetness then stir in some orange juice. Add the reserved raspberries, cover and chill for an hour. Serve, with the chocolate cookies.
Peaches with lemongrass and sesame snaps
Makes 12 snaps. Serves 4
For the peaches:
caster sugar 150g
lemongrass 2 large stalks
mint leaves 15 large
For the sesame snaps:
butter 60g, plus a little extra
caster sugar 2 tbsp
golden syrup 2 heaped tbsp
plain flour 5 lightly heaped tbsp
ground ginger 1 tsp
brandy 1 tsp
sesame seeds 1 tbsp
Set the oven at 150C/gas mark 2. Lightly butter a baking sheet. In a small pan melt the sugar, golden syrup and butter. As it starts to bubble, remove from the heat and stir in the flour, ground ginger and brandy, and scatter in the sesame seeds.
Using a teaspoon, place 6 blobs of the mixture, each about the size of a walnut half, on the buttered baking sheet.
Bake the biscuits in 2 batches for 10-12 minutes, until rich golden brown. Leave on the baking sheet for 5 minutes until cool enough to roll. Holding the baking sheet with an oven glove use a palette knife to loosen each one. They should still be hot. If a biscuit tears, leave it to set a little longer.
Lift each snap using the palette knife and your fingers. Wrap each one around a rolling pin with your hands, gently pressing it to fit. Work quickly as the snaps won’t roll once cooled. Remove each one when set and leave on a cooling rack.
Make the peaches: put the sugar and water into a medium pan over a moderate heat. Smash the lemongrass stalks with a pestle or rolling pin until they splinter, then drop them into the pan. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat. Crush the mint leaves in your hand and drop them into the syrup, cover and set aside.
Halve the peaches and discard the stones, then tear or slice the fruit in half again. Add the peaches to the syrup, then chill for at least 2 hours. Remove the lemongrass and mint and serve in glasses or shallow bowls with the sesame snaps.