Last night we enjoyed this lovely dish together with Andrea and Thomas, our valiant house-sitters. We hope they enjoyed the treat, which after a champagne, olive and stuffed pepper start, moved on to crab, melon, cucumber and watercress salad with a dressing of ginger, lime, mint, olive oil and sugar. Delicious. Thanks go to Nigel Slater for that – June 24 in his Kitchen Diaries.
Our main course was from the same source – August 7 – grilled Fleetwood monkfish with rosemary, served with garlic mayo, accompanied by green beans, stir fried cabbage and mushroom, and pan fried new potatoes.
The Layered Crunchy Summer Pudding that followed reminded me of one of the desserts I enjoyed at the Loch Tummel Inn when I stayed there in May, on the TGO Challenge. It was delicious. Here’s how Sue concocted it (for 4 people):
FOR THE MELBA TOASTS
6 slices of medium-cut white bread, veering towards being a little ‘tired’
icing sugar, for dusting
FOR THE FRUIT SAUCE
140gm mixed strawberries and raspberries
35gm icing sugar
1 tbsp raspberry or strawberry jam, at room temperature
FOR THE FRUIT
340gm strawberries, hulled
FOR THE SWEET CREAM
100ml double cream
35gm icing sugar
1 vanilla pod, halved and seeds scraped (optional)
1. Heat oven to 180C/fan160C/gas4. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and dust well with icing sugar. Toast the slices of bread, remove the crusts, then cut through the width, splitting each into two very thin squares. Scrape away any excess crumbs from the untoasted sides, then cut each slice into a 7.5cm disc using a cutter, so that you have 12 discs. (A scone cutter can be used.)
2. Place the discs, untoasted side up, on the baking sheet. Dust the tops generously with icing sugar. Cover with another sheet of greaseproof paper, then top with a second baking sheet. This will prevent the natural curl of the melba toasts when exposed to heat.
(Do this in batches with the bread fully flattened between the baking sheets.)
3. Bake for about 12 mins, or until dry, crisp and golden. Remove from the oven and transfer the toasts to a cooling rack. Dust 4 of the melba toasts with more icing sugar and grill-mark with a heated skewer to create four lines, then do this again at a different angle for a criss-cross finish.
(For a heated skewer – Sue used a cake tester – hold one end of it over a gas flame until very hot, or heat under a hot grill. Beware of burns.)
The toasts can be made 1-2 days ahead and kept in foil or an airtight container to retain their crispness.
4. Place all of the sauce ingredients in a blender and blend until puréed. Strain through a sieve for a smooth finish.
This can be made up to 2 days ahead.
5. Arrange the raspberries and strawberries around the edge of 8 crisp melba toasts, trimming the strawberries at the hulled end to give a level height. Place the trimmings and any remaining fruits in a bowl and crush to a chunky purée with a fork. In a separate bowl, softly whisk the double cream, sugar and vanilla seeds. Stir in the crushed fruits.
6. Spoon a dollop of cream into the centre of each toast. Place one toast onto each plate then top with another one. Continue to give 4 stacks, topping each with a skewer-marked toast. Drizzle sauce around, offering any extra sauce separately.
(Sue made the bottom layer with strawberries, the second layer with raspberries, and by some standards flooded the plates with sauce, but it was absolutely delicious.)
And I’ve just realised why it may be similar to the dessert I had at Loch Tummel – their dessert chef trained under Gary Rhodes, and this is based on one of his recipes.
Shame about the lighting in the picture, but Thomas was desperate to tuck into his pud!