Yes indeed, once again I left the ROMM (recipe-of-the-month-man) hat hanging on the hook in the hall all summer long. Never gave it so much as a thought in July. August was different, I looked at a couple of times, apologised to it out loud once but left it where it was all the same. Sure, you lot were all off at the beach or the cabin in the woods anyway, or possibly in the cinema wearing a dufflecoat if your summer was in Ireland.
Easing gently back into the habit, the recipe for September is in response to a query about vegetarian pannacotta. We did use a pannacotta recipe a few years back and managed to keep it on the menu for quite a bit. It used carrageen to set the pudding, and it took quite a bit of adjusting and experimenting to get the right balance so that the pudding was set but only just and not tasting too strongly of carrageen, which isn’t to everyone’s taste. To put it mildly. Anyway, as is often the way with slightly tricky recipes, they can be simple as part of a daily routine and confusing as all get-go when you can’t remember the subtleties written between the lines.
We took the pannacotta off the menu in the usual casual way, maybe to make way for something else or perhaps just to change things up for the fun of it. When we tried to resurrect it after a few months off the menu, it had lost that extra bit of appeal that can be the difference between a dish getting special loving attention and being filed in the ‘for another day when things aren’t so busy’ section of the kitchen manual. The pannacotta recipe did survive long enough to be published in wild garlic….
Shortly after losing our nerve with the pannacotta, we switched to an egg custard based recipe that has just been getting better and better and has been an almost constant on the menu for some time now.
There is a version in for the love of food, which is infused with lavender. In the springtime, we tend to flavour it with cardamom and serve it with poached rhubarb. This version, the one currently on the menu, combines the fragrance of rosemary with figs, honey and port. If you don’t have a fig tree handy, a few fresh blackberries will do the job very nicely.
10g rosemary leaves
4 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
30g blackcurrant puree
4-8 fresh figs, cut in half
Put the rosemary and cream in a pot and heat gently to just below boiling point. Remove the pot from the heat and leave to infuse for 2-3 hours. Pass through a fine sieve to remove the rosemary.
Stir the egg yolks and sugar together. Pour into the hot cream and stir with a spatula. Leave this custard to settle for a minute, then remove the foam that remains on top.
Place six 150ml ramekins or steel rings lined with cling-film in a baking dish. Fill with the custard. Pour boiling water into the baking dish to come halfway up the ramekins, and place the dish in the oven. Check after 20 minutes and again every 10 minutes until the custards are firm on top but still slightly wobbly when moved gently.
Remove from the oven and leave in the water dish for 30 minutes, then lift the ramekins out of the water and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or up to two days.
Bring the honey, blackcurrant puree and port to a boil and pour some over the figs. Leave the figs to cool.
Continue to simmer the port sauce over low heat until it has reduced by one third. Leave to cool, when it should have a thick pouring consistency.
Serve the custard and figs with shortbread biscuits.