Recipes featured in

Fireworks in France

Annabelle and Philippa spent many of their days together. Having lived in Upton St. Mary all her life, Philippa was as much a pillar of the church and the local community as was Annabelle. Philippa ensured that St. Mary’s bookkeeping was up-to-date, the church ran smoothly, and the various parish groups were disciplined and thriving. Leaders of vast global enterprises would be hard-pressed to out-organise Philippa. She also ensured that Annabelle was in peak condition, fortified by her delicious food, especially her cakes.

Angélique Apple & Fig Cheesecake

For the sponge base

2 oz (60g) butter at room temperature

2 oz (60g) self-raising flour, sifted

½ tsp baking powder

1 egg

2 oz (60g) sugar or caster sugar

6 oz (170g) apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

2 oz (60g) figs chopped

For the cheesecake filling

12 oz (340g) fromage frais

3 oz (85g) sugar or caster sugar

½ oz (15g) powdered gelatine

3 tbsp water

1 tsp vanilla extract

One third pint double or whipped cream, whipped

3 egg whites, stiffly whisked

To decorate

1 tbsp sifted icing sugar

3 fl oz (85ml) double or whipped cream, stiffly whipped

A few slices of apples

Chopped figs

Caramel sauce

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 16cm/7 inch cake tin. Place the butter, flour, baking powder, egg and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk until light and fluffy. Cook for 20 minutes, Turn out on to a wire tray to cool. 

Mix the fromage frais with the caster sugar. Dissolve the gelatine in the water over a gentle heat and add to the cheese with the vanilla extract. Fold in the whipped cream. Lightly fold the whisked egg whites into the cheese mixture. 

Lightly oil the sides of a 14cm/6½ inch loose-based cake tin. Cut the sponge in half horizontally and place the bottom half in the tin. 

Lay the apples on to the sponge base. Sprinkle the figs evenly over them. Pour in the cheesecake mixture and top with the reserved sponge. Chill until set. 

When set, carefully remove from the tin. Dust the top with sifted icing sugar. Decorate with whirls of cream and apple slices and figs. Drizzle with the caramel sauce. 

Variations

Cheesecakes make a very versatile dessert with many variations. There are many types of soft cheese now on the market and most are suitable for cheesecakes. Curd cheese, cottage cheese if sieved and skimmed milk soft cheese are all good for keeping the calories down. If full-fat soft cheese is used, half the cream in the recipe can be substituted with plain unsweetened yogurt. 

The apples in the recipe can be substituted with any other soft fruit or to make a lemon cheesecake omit the vanilla essence and add the grated rind and juice of two lemons but add a further ½ teaspoon of powdered gelatine.

If a biscuit crumb base is preferred rather than the sponge base, crumble 6 oz (170g) digestive biscuits or graham crackers, mix with 2 oz (60g) sugar and 2 oz (60g) melted butter. Put half the mixture into the base of the tin then sprinkle the rest over the top.

Chérissable Crème Brûlée

1 pint (475ml) fresh double or whipping cream

4 egg yolks

3 oz (85g) sugar or caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Put the cream in the top of a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl over a pan of hot water and bring to just below boiling point. 

Meanwhile, put the egg yolks, 2 oz (60g) of the sugar and the vanilla extract in a mixing bowl and beat thoroughly. Pour in the cream and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a shallow baking dish and place in a roasting tin half full of hot water. Bake in a cool oven 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2 for one hour or until set.

When set, remove from the tin and leave to go cold. Chill in the refrigerator for several hours, preferably overnight. 

Sprinkle the top of the crème brûlée with the remaining sugar and put under a preheated hot grill until the sugar turns to caramel. Leave to cool before serving. 

This sumptuous dessert is at its best served chilled with fresh raspberries or strawberries steeped in vanilla sugar – these contrast well with the richness of the crème brûlée.

Délicieuse Dried Fruit And Spice Compôte

4 oz (115g) dried figs

4 oz (115g) dried apricots

2 oz (55g) dried apple

4 oz (115g) dried prunes

2 oz (55g) raisins

2 oz (55g) sultanas

2oz (55g) currants

1 tsp mixed spice

3 tbsp cooking brandy

¼ pint (120ml) strong black coffee

One third pint (160ml) water

This dish is full of nourishment and may be served with a little cream for a lunch or supper dessert or warm it up for comforting breakfast.

Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring gently to the boil. Simmer for 5 – 6 minutes.

Turn the contents of the pan into a large mixing bowl, cover with a clean tea towel, and allow to go quite cold.

Turn the compôte into a large glass or earthenware pot, seal, and allow to stand in a cool place for at least 12 hours before using.

Note

The compôte may be heated if you wish, but never return any hot leftovers to the main compôte, as all will go bad. If it is properly stored in a cold place, you may add more fruit, cold liquid and brandy (which acts as a preservative). If well sealed, it will keep for more than 2 weeks.

Qualité Quiche Lorraine

4-6 oz (115g – 170g) unsmoked streaky bacon, rinds removed and chopped

Shortcrust pastry flan case

2 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

¼ pint (120ml) fresh single cream

Approx. ¼ (120ml) pint milk

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 oz (60g) Gruyère cheese, grated

Fry the bacon over gentle heat in a small frying pan until the fat runs and the bacon becomes golden brown. Put the bacon into the flan case.

Beat the whole eggs, egg yolks and cream together lightly in a bowl and pour over the bacon. Stir in enough milk almost to fill the case. Season to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the grated Gruyère.

Bake in a fairly hot oven 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5 for 25 to 30 minutes or until the filling is set and the pastry is golden. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Sacré Strawberry Soufflé

¾ lb (340g) fresh strawberries, hulled and washed

5 oz (140g) caster sugar

3 eggs, separated

1 tbsp gelatine powder

2 tbsp lemon juice

Red food colouring (optional)

¼ pint (140ml) fresh double cream

1 oz (30g) finely chopped hazelnuts or walnuts or crushed ratafias to finish

First prepare a 1 pint (475ml) or 13cm/5 inch soufflé dish; cut a strip of doubled greaseproof or baking paper long enough to go around the outside of the soufflé dish (overlapping by 2-5cm/1-2 inches) and 5-7cm/2-3 inches higher than the dish. Tie this securely around the outside of the dish with string. Brush the inside of the greaseproof paper above the rim with melted butter.

Purée the strawberries in an electric blender or work through a sieve, reserving a few whole ones for decoration. Stir in 2 oz (60g) of the sugar. 

Put the egg yolks and remaining sugar in a heatproof bowl and stand over a pan of hot water. Beat with a rotary beater or whisk until thick. Remove from the pan and continue beating until the mixture is cold. Fold in the strawberry purée.

Sprinkle the gelatine over the lemon juice in a small heatproof bowl. Leave until spongy, then place the bowl in a pan of hot water and stir over a low heat until the gelatine has dissolved. Leave to cool slightly, then stir into the strawberry mixture. Add a few drops of red food colouring if the mixture seems rather pale. Whip the cream until it is thick and stir into the strawberry mixture, making sure that it is thoroughly blended.

Beat the egg whites until stiff then fold into the strawberry mixture. Spoon into the prepared soufflé dish and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or until set.

Before serving, carefully remove the greaseproof paper. Decorate the top of the soufflé with the reserved strawberries and press the nuts or ratafias around the edge.

Book cover of Fireworks in France by Alison Golden
Book cover of Witches at the Wedding by Alison Golden
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