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Sunshine In Winter With Delia Smith’s Summer Collection

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I am so excited with my latest purchase. This afternoon I bought a copy of Delia Smith’s Summer Collection and it brought back so many memories. This cook book accompanied the 1993 BBC series which used to be broadcast once a week on a week night which I used to watch when I should have been doing my homework!

A terrine of summer fruits from Delia's Summer Collection

A terrine of summer fruits from Delia’s Summer Collection

 

I’ve pretty much grown up with Delia; it’s no secret that my mum was a huge fan of TV cookery shows – she still is – so I got my liking for such shows from her. And Delia Smith was probably the first TV cook I watched in the early 1980s and her career started long before I was even born. I’ve watched all of her TV series as I was growing up which I’m sure contributed to my interest in food, cooking and trying new culinary delights. And I have to say it – Christmas just isn’t Christmas without Delia Smith’s Christmas.

The great lady herself!

The great lady herself!

 

Delia is most definitely on a different plane when compared to today’s TV chefs. Not that I’m saying anyone’s better or worse as I have a lot of respect for those guys, but whereas they’re more fast-paced, energetic and often prone to tantrums, Delia is a lot more calmer with a no-nonsense approach. She reminds me of a school teacher with a great deal of patience! She also had a reputation for complex dishes and for using obscure ingredients that were difficult to source but flicking through Delia Smith’s Summer Collection, there’s very little evidence of that. Many of the dishes seem extremely easy to rustle up with ingredients that are easily obtainable. I was also surprised to see some recipes for Thai and Sri Lankan dishes so I’m guessing the British public were starting to become more adventurous when it came to food just over twenty years ago!

A delicious looking vanilla cream terrine

A delicious looking vanilla cream terrine

 

There are a lot of tasty recipes in here, as well as ones I remember her making from the show such as Coconut ice-cream with lime syrup, ice-tea, and coconut lime cake. That last one is especially interesting because I’ve never been much of a fan of desiccated coconut but it looked so fantastic on the show that I wanted to try it!

So here’s the recipe for coconut lime cake taken from Delia Smith’s Summer Collection which I will also be attempting soon. Go on – inject a little sunshine into winter!

INGREDIENTS:

 2 oz (50 g) desiccated coconut
 2 limes
 6 oz (175 g) self-raising flour
 6 oz (175 g) caster sugar
 6 oz (175 g) soft margarine or butter
 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
 2 level tablespoons dried coconut milk powder
 1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
For the icing:
 3 limes
 8 oz (225 g) icing sugar
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C).
Equipment
You will also need two 8 inch (20 cm) round sponge tins 1½ inches (4 cm) deep, greased and the bases lined with silicone paper (parchment).

METHOD:

For the cake, start off by grating the zest of the 2 limes on to a small saucer, then cover that with clingfilm and set on one side. Next, measure the desiccated coconut into a small bowl, then squeeze the juice of the limes and pour this over the coconut to allow it to soften and soak up the juice for an hour or so.

To make the cake, just take a large, roomy bowl and sift in the flour, lifting the sieve up high to give the flour a good airing. Then simply throw in all the other cake ingredients, including the lime zest and soaked coconut, and with an electric hand whisk, switched to high speed, whisk everything till thoroughly blended – about 2-3 minutes. Now divide the mixture equally between the two prepared tins, smooth to level off the tops and bake on a middle shelf of the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the centres feel springy to the touch. Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn them out on to a wire rack to cool completely, carefully peeling off the base papers. They must be completely cold before the icing goes on.

To make the icing, begin by removing the zest from the limes – this is best done with a zester as you need long, thin, curly strips that look pretty. Then, with your sharpest knife, remove all the outer pith, then carefully remove each segment (holding the limes over a bowl to catch any juice), sliding the knife in between the membrane so that you have the flesh of the segments only. This is much easier to do with limes than it is with other citrus fruits. Drop the segments into the bowl and squeeze the last drops of juice from the pith. Now, sift the icing sugar in on top of the limes a little at a time, carefully folding it in with a tablespoon in order not to break up the lime segments too much.

When all the sugar is incorporated, allow the mixture to stand for 5 minutes, then spread half of it on to the surface of one of the cakes and scatter with half the lime zest. Place the other cake on top, spread the rest of the icing on top of that and scatter the rest of the zest over. Then place the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up the icing before serving.

 

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Posted by on December 29, 2014 in Books Galore, Childhood Legends

 

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The Cookery Year: A Meal For All Seasons

When it comes to cookery books, most people can’t wait to get hold of Jamie Oliver’s or Nigella’s latest offering – and I’m no different. But there are no words to describe just how thrilled I was to have recently got my hands on a copy of The Cookery Year by Reader’s Digest. I’ve been hunting around for this iconic cook book for a long time, hoping to add it to my overwhelming collection of cookery books. For me, this little gem is the king of cook books – and an integral part of my childhood.

The Cookery Year as I remember it

The Cookery Year as I remember it

From the moment Reader’s Digest published The Cookery Year in the early seventies, it became the cook book no kitchen was complete without. It contained a month by month guide to seasonal produce plus recipes. My mother was the proud owner of a copy from the seventies, and being the strange child that I was, I used to spend hours poring over the pages. I must have been the only five year old who knew what a blini was! It was this book which got me interested in food and cooking at a young age all those years ago, and it introduced me to the delicious summer pudding; the delightful ouefs a la neige, and the flaming brilliant Crepes Suzettes!

My new copy of the cookery year

My copy of the cookery year

But what I liked most about The Cookery Year were the beautifully illustrated opening pages listing information about different types of fruit, vegetables, cuts of meat, fish and cheese, complete with instructions for preparation and cooking. I enjoyed looking the pictures and once I’d learnt to read, I was also able to find out when certain produce was available and preferable cooking methods though why a primary school-aged child needed to know such information, I’ll never know! Who’d have thought that The Cookery Year could be so educational? Furthermore whenever I played the Name Game, with friends, I was very rarely stuck when it came to the fruit and vegetable category – and I have The Cookery Year to thank for that!

August - my month as it appeared in the 1970s edition

August – my month as it appeared in the 1970s edition

Now my mother’s cook book – the same one I used to look through when I was a child – certainly looks as though it’s been through the wars. Battered and worn, with the cover and many of its pages missing, this book has been well and truly used! I remember Mum used to follow the recipes for some of the cakes that featured in this book and I did make something from The Cookery Year when I was about twelve – orange foam sauce which we served with spotted dick as we’d run out of the milk we needed to make the custard so this recipe saved the day!

Poultry

Poultry

Being reunited with this book is like being reunited with a missing piece of my childhood. I thoroughly enjoyed getting reacquainted with this cook book; flicking through the pages; feeling amazed at how much I’d remembered… I came across recipes and photos I instantly recognised. Grapefruit in brandy… scallops served in the shell… turbot with sweetcorn… salad elona… it was as though I was being transported back in time. I also came across dishes I hadn’t heard of in a long time which were extremely popular when I was growing up such as cock-a-leekie soup, melon and prawn basket, Steak Diane and peach melba. And oh my goodness, kidneys! A lot of kidneys were consumed in the seventies and eighties if these recipes are anything to go by. Maybe there are some changes in twenty-first century cooking for which we can be thankful!

Cuts of meat

Cuts of meat

The edition of The Cookery Year which I have found is from 2009 rather than from the 1970s and even though it’s done it’s best to adhere to the original format, there are differences. The hardback cover of the 1970s edition featured a variety of fruits, vegetables, and spices, artistically arranged and photographed, while the 2009 edition has charming illustrations of fruit vegetables and fish emblazoned across its paperback cover. Some of the photographs inside the book are different to what I remember and some have been omitted altogether. Furthermore some recipes have also been removed such as the delightful ‘bunnies on the lawn’ that I always hoped my mum would make for my next birthday party.

The yummy cake page I remember so well which is missing from the 2009 edition

The yummy cake page I remember so well which is missing from the 2009 edition

Just as clothes go out of fashion, so does food and there are some dishes here which probably haven’t stood the test of time. I can’t see anyone serving up tomato ice as a starter or the delightfully named kidney scramble when they fancy a light snack. But there are still a huge number of classics such as chicken pie, tarte tatin, boef bourguignonne, and Lancashire hot pot as well as the famous summer pudding which outnumber the dishes which now seems outdated, so The Cookery Year is still a worthwhile buy. And in any case, any recipes that seem a bit dated can be adapted to modern tastes and to what is now available, or simply stick a ‘retro’ label on it and it will immediately be en vogue again!

Apparently not so common! Well maybe in another time...

Apparently not so common! Well maybe in another time…

It’s also amazing to see just how far we’ve come from the seventies in terms of food. Offal seems to be off the menu in a lot of households and restaurants, thank goodness. Chilli chocolate, salted caramel, pulled pork and many of today’s current food trends didn’t appear to exist then. In the seventies edition of The Cookery Year, peppers, avocados and courgettes were considered ‘less common vegetables’. Fast forward forty years and everyone’s fridge is full of them! And despite there surprisingly being lots of foreign influences, it’s missing a lot of the Thai, Japanese and South American flavours which are so popular today.

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I really do think that every household could benefit from owning a copy of The Cookery Year. It really is a must-have book. Those who already have this cook book have said that they’ve never really needed another cookery book as this one has everything they need to develop their culinary skills. It’s perfect for beginners to cooking enthusiasts alike; serious homemakers to those setting up home for the first time; parents and children – I even saw a comment from a lady who said that her three year old daughter sits on the work top looking through the book while her mother cooks. Sounds very familiar! Another mother has said that she uses the opening chapters as a teaching aid about food for her children. There are also menu suggestions for special occasions like weddings, Christmas and dinner parties. To say this book is extremely useful is an understatement – it’s the cook’s bible!

I’m so glad that The Cookery Year is part of my life again. I honestly don’t know how I lived without it for so long. I love the format, the month by month guide, the menus, the advice, the recipes, the illustrations, the photographs – in short, EVERYTHING! However, I’m still going to keep my eye out for an original edition like my mum had. What can I say – I’m so old school!

So I’m going to leave you with the recipe  from The Cookery Year for the orange foam sauce I made many years ago with great success. It really is a delicious, versatile and – if a twelve year old can do it – easy to make sauce. It goes well with most pies, tarts, hot pudding and cakes and even Christmas pudding!

ORANGE FOAM SAUCE

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Ingredients:

1 oz unsalted butter
1 orange (grated rind and juice of)
1 all-purpose flour
2 oz superfine sugar
1 egg
lemon juice

Method:

  • Cream the butter and grated orange rind and gradually beat in the flour mixed with sugar.
  • Separate the egg and beat the yolk into the butter & flour mixture.
  • Add the orange juice (made up to 5floz with water)
  • Don’t worry if the mixture curdles at this stage, it will become smooth again as it cooks.
  • Cook the sauce in a small heavy based saucepan over a low heat, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens and the flour is cooked through.
  • Add a little extra water if necessary to keep the sauce to a pouring consistency.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and cover with a lid to keep warm.
  • Just before serving, beat the egg white until stiff and then fold it into the sauce and sharpen the sauce slightly with a little lemon juice.

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Farmhouse Kitchen: Comfort Food Television

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My love of cookery shows goes back to when I was about five years old, thanks to my mum who was a huge fan of any program that showed you how and what to cook. She would watch every single one religiously and would sit there making notes. As a result, I developed an interest in them too.

My absolute favourite – of which I still have fond memories – is the iconic (in my opinion at least) Farmhouse Kitchen. This was a cookery series made by Yorkshire Television and broadcast by ITV during weekday afternoons. I used to watch it with Mum when I returned home from school. The show was aimed at housewives and homemakers and provided demonstrations of well-known, traditional British fare long before anyone had ever heard of sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and salted caramel.

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Farmhouse Kitchen was first shown in 1971 and ran until 1989. It was originally  presented by Dorothy Sleightholme until her sad demise in a car accident. Grace Mulligan then took over as the show’s host. There were also occasionally  guest cooks which included Pauline Sykes and the queen of cakes herself, Mary Berry. Viewers were even invited to write in with their own recipes which were then (if selected) demonstrated for the viewing public.

Grace Mulligan

Grace Mulligan

If ever there was such a thing as comfort food television, then this would be it. No fuss, no frills, no obscure ingredients; just simple and inexpensive old-fashioned home cooking. There was something so warm and homely about Farmhouse Kitchen from the country style kitchen to the presenters to the very melodic theme tune. In fact every time I hear that theme tune, it takes me back… It contains a kind of nostalgic 1970s charm and was aptly called ‘Fruity Flute’ and was played by The Reg Wale Group.

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I know that times change and nothing lasts forever but I can’t help but compare this legendary show to cooking programs today where the food and art of cooking sometimes takes second place to cultivating a celebrity image and television career for the chef. And let’s not even get started on the expletives used by certain unnamed chefs and celebrity cooks in a bid to look, I don’t know, cool? Because I don’t think cool, funny or entertaining when I hear it. Just get on with showing us how to cook!

Baked goodies On Farmhouse Kitchen

Baked goodies On Farmhouse Kitchen

It’s a shame that Farmhouse Kitchen isn’t repeated or that there’s anything that remotely resembles it but no doubt if there was the majority of viewers would consider it quaint and outdated – which I suppose goes to show that I like quaint and outdated! Books were available which accompanied the series and I would love to buy a copy.

Here’s that delightful theme tune (the theme had been revamped although judging by some of the comments I’ve read, it would appear that most people preferred the original.) I could listen to it all day and never tire of it. Bliss!

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Posted by on August 25, 2013 in Name That Tune!, TV Shows

 

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Exotic Gooseberries and Greengages!

Now we’re in summer, it’s all about the strawberries, raspberries and peaches. But when I was a kid, summer was all about different kinds of fruit which I don’t see very much of now. Actually make that, I don’t see at all!

Greengages

Greengages

It’s amazing how the mere mention of the word ‘greengage’ can transport me back to my childhood garden but that’s exactly what happened when someone I know brought up this super tasty fruit I haven’t eaten in… well, a very, very long time! This immediately brought gooseberries to mind, as along with strawberries and grapes, this was another fruit that my parents grew in the garden of the first home we ever lived in. As we grew them at home, greengages and gooseberries were in abundance but even back then, I don’t remember seeing them so readily available commercially.

Gooseberries

Gooseberries

When we were very young, my sister and I loved picking greengages and gooseberries and scoffing them. We were the kind of kids who definitely preferred chocolates and toffees to fruit – but we loved these and would happily eat them. As this was the first place we’d ever set eyes on either fruit, the mere mention or sight of a greengage or gooseberry soon brings back memories of summers at our old house and our happy childhood… as well as our rather untidy garden!

gooseberry

gooseberry

As the years have gone by, I’ve noticed how increasingly rare these fruits are becoming. I bet most people now would have forgotten what they look and taste like. it’s not sold in the shops and I don’t know anyone who grows them – even though many grow lots of other kinds of fruit. It’s amazing because walk into any supermarket and you’ll have no problem in finding imported exotic fruit such as pineapple, mango, papaya and even dragon fruit. But you’re hardly likely to find greengages or gooseberries. In some ways, I think these have become the exotic fruits!

It may not be fresh fruit but it's one way to see greengages on sale!

It may not be fresh fruit but it’s one way to see greengages on sale!

For those of you haven’t been lucky enough to try greengages, they are a yummy cultivated fruit from the plum family and are green/yellowish-green in colour. Greengages are slightly smaller in size to regular plums and they originated from France (where greengages are known as la bonne reine or Claude reine) and they get their English name from Sir William Gage, who was the first person to import them into England from France. Greengages soon found their way to the American colonies and were grown on plantations belonging to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, although since the eighteenth century, there has been a decline in their cultivation in North America and greengages may be even more scarce there than they are here.

Greengages on a tree

Greengages on a tree

The gooseberry is native to Europe, Africa and Asia, and although you can get smooth-skinned varieties of the fruit, the wild variety – the kind we grew in our garden – tend to have a fuzzy skin. These small, grape sized fruit are related to the blackcurrant and are yellowy-green in colour with a veined effect on the skin, although it is also possible to get reddish coloured gooseberries. The hard and tart variety are best used in cooking especially in making pies, jams and fools – one of my favourite desserts. They had been popular in England since Elizabethan times.

Red coloured gooseberries

Red coloured gooseberries

I do hope these fruits make a comeback because they really were delicious and so versatile. I have included recipes for each fruit, which I hope to make… providing I can find the chief ingredients!

GREENGAGE AND HONEY COMPOTE
(recipe from Sainsbury’s magazine)

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INGREDIENTS:
(makes 3-4 servings):

500g greengages, ripe yet firm
4 tbsp runny honey (any variety)
1 vanilla pod

METHOD:

  • Halve the greengages and remove the stones.
  • Place in a saucepan with the honey, then heat gently until the honey is liquid.
  • Run a knife down the centre of the vanilla pod and add to the fruit, then simmer gently until the fruit starts to release a lot of liquid, and is on the point of collapse. This should take only a couple of minutes.
  • Remove from the heat.
  •  Serve hot or cold, with cream, crème fraiche, ice cream. Also delicious served with cheesecake.


GOOSEBERRY FOOL

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(recipe from bbcgoodfood.com June 2012)

INGREDIENTS:

250g gooseberries, topped and tailed
3 tbsp caster sugar
200g Greek yogurt
1-2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
200ml double cream

METHOD:

  • Put the gooseberries and sugar in a pan with a splash of water.
  • Heat gently while stirring, then bring to a simmer and cook until the fruit starts to burst.
  • Squash the gooseberries with a potato masher or fork until pulpy. Cool then chill until cold in the fridge.
  • Put the yoghurt in a bowl and beat with the icing sugar and vanilla until smooth.
  • Gently whisk in the cream (it will thicken as you whisk so don’t overdo it).
  • Ripple through the gooseberry pulp then spoon into pretty glasses or bowls to serve.

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Comfort Food #2: Magical Baked Alaska

To say that I have a bit of a sweet tooth is like saying Mary Berry does a bit of baking! And one thing that I’m a huge fan of is that logic defying dessert – Baked Alaska. I love the layered combination of cake, ice-cream and (occasionally) fruit all topped with meringue of the soft, fluffy, marshmallowy variety.

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Baked Alaska is a retro classic and was a big hit when I was growing up in the 1980s – though I believe it first became popular a decade earlier. Cooking shows I used to watch with Mum would show viewers how to create a Baked Alaska; women’s magazines my aunts used to buy would always contain recipes for the dessert and I loved seeing the different variations. I may have only been a kid but even I knew that no dinner party was complete without this sweet finale.

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From a child’s point of view, there was something extremely magical about this dessert. Whoever heard of an ice-cream that could be baked in the oven and come out intact and not as ice-cream soup? It was only when I was at secondary school and began home economics classes that I understood why the ice-cream didn’t melt (OK – here comes the science bit!): the meringue acted as an effective insulator, and the short cooking time (just long enough to bake the meringue) prevents the heat from getting through to the ice cream.

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But from being everywhere, it’s now seldom heard of. It’s very rarely served up at dinner parties; I don’t hear about anyone tucking into a Baked Alaska anymore and it doesn’t appear on restaurant menus. In fact, the last time I heard of anyone serving up a Baked Alaska was at the wedding of a family friend – and she got married back in 1990!

However that doesn’t mean that it’s suddenly ceased to be delicious so it’s about time that this unique and long forgotten dessert made a comeback.

Here’s a very delightful sounding recipe that I found from Mark Sargeant for a modern take on an old favourite. Baked Alaska has never sounded so good and I for one cannot wait to try it!

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Ingredients

For the sponge
5 free-range eggs
150 g caster sugar
110 g plain flour
40 g cocoa powder
25 g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing

For the ice cream
250 g plain chocolate
100 g unsalted butter
150 g caster sugar
150 ml water
4 large eggs, yolks only
500 ml double cream

For the meringue
100 ml water
400 g sugar
2 tbsp liquid glucose, (optional)
6 egg whites
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out

For the cherry sauce
300 g cherries, stones removed, halved, plus 12 extra whole with stalks for decoration
2 tbsp caster sugar
A cordial of cherries
A splash of kirsch

To serve
kirsch, for drizzling and flambéing
½ shell of eggs, washed and dried

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Grease and line a 24x20cm/9.5x8in lipped baking tray.

2. For the sponge: cream the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl for 4-5 minutes until pale and fluffy.

3. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the egg and sugar mixture and fold until combined, then stir in the melted butter. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tray and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the cake is risen and is springy to the touch.

4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool briefly in the tray before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

5. For the ice cream: place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of just-simmering water (make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl). Stir continuously, until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Set aside.

6. Place the sugar and water into a small saucepan set over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and bring to the boil, cooking for a few minutes until the mixture thickens to a syrup consistency. Set aside to cool for one minute.

7. Place the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of just-simmering water (make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl). While whisking continuously, slowly trickle in the hot sugar syrup. When all of the sugar syrup has been incorporated and the mixture has thickened, whisk in the double cream and the melted chocolate mixture until smooth.

8. Pour the mixture into the bowl of an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Scoop the churned ice cream into a rectangular container, smoothing the top, and place into the freezer. Remove from the freezer 5-10 minutes before serving.

9. For the meringue: place the water, sugar and glucose (if using) into a heavy-based saucepan. Place over a medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture comes to the boil. Increase the heat to high and boil until the mixture reaches 121C (check using a sugar thermometer), then quickly remove from the heat.

10. Beat the egg whites and vanilla seeds in a stand mixer, then carefully pour the sugar syrup onto the beaten egg whites in a thin stream, taking care not to let the syrup run onto the whisks or the edge of the bowl. Continue to beat at a low speed until the mixture is almost completely cold – this will take about 10 minutes. Spoon the meringue into a piping bag and set aside.

11. For the cherry sauce: place all of the cherry sauce ingredients into a pan and cook over a medium heat until the cherries are tender (add a splash of water if the mixture looks too dry). Transfer the mixture to a food processor and blend to a smooth puree. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve.

12. To assemble the baked Alaska, cut two equal-sized rectangles from the sponge. Cut the ice cream into a brick shape the same length and width as the sponge.

13. Place one sponge rectangle onto a serving plate and drizzle with kirsch, then smooth over some of the cherry sauce. Top with the ice cream, then the other sponge to make a ‘sandwich’. Pipe the meringue all over the ‘sandwich’ to cover, making sure it is completely covered.

14. Using a mini blowtorch, brown the meringue all over. Place the whole cherries around the base of the meringue to decorate. Pour some kirsch into the egg shell and press into the top of the meringue. Carefully ignite the kirsch just before serving.

 

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