I love when the blood oranges arrive. In this part of the world it is generally late January, just the time when we need a little cheering up. They have a wonderful flavour and the beautiful ruby coloured flesh and juice is just a joy. I use them in sweet and savoury situations and will be seen in this coldest of months trying to find a few brave shoots of watercress to pair them in what is one of my favourite savoury salads of the year. In this jelly I pair them with our regular oranges, also good at this time of year, to temper the sometimes sharp flavour of the sanguine variety. The jelly can be set in individual moulds, coffee cups or glasses. It can also be set in a large dish and served straight from that. If you want to turn out the jellies for a smart presentation, you need to brush your moulds with a non-scented oil such as sunflower to ensure they will slide out easily.
This is a really simple and lovely ice to make with our furry friends. The sauce is delicious and makes the whole combination into a thoroughly refreshing dessert. I serve this with Sugar Biscuits.
These lacy and deliciously crisp biscuits keep perfectly for several days. Serve them with ice creams, sorbets, granitas, mousses and soufflés and anything to do with chocolate. They are also perfect with perfectly ripe fruit such as pears or peaches.
This is a rich and concentrated mousse with a texture that I really like. The combination of the chocolate and the burnt sugar caramel works really well. I like to serve this with caramel sauce and thick pouring cream. Sometimes I can get Jersey cream, and that is just heavenly.
Caramel sauce is a very useful dessert sauce with many uses. Clear and shiny and as richly coloured as well-polished mahogany, it needs to be cooked with care. Use a heavy saucepan with medium high sides and cook it on the heat furthermost from the edge of your cooker, so it is safely away from an awkward elbow or a child's inquisitive reach. It is vital to cook the sugar and water enough to achieve a deep 'chestnut brown' colour, as this 'burning' of the sugar tempers the sweetness of the sauce to achieve a balance that is neither too sweet nor too bitter. The sauce will keep for months in the fridge, but will thicken as it chills, so you may need to dilute it with a little warm water when this happens.
Plums that are hard and boring when raw, can be transformed into something delicious when poached in a simple syrup. Here the syrup is half water and half red wine, the wine adding a lovely warming depth to the flavour. The star anise, a lovely spice, is perfect with the plums. The cooked plums should be holding their shape perfectly, but still tender enough to fall away from the stone with a gentle push of a fork or spoon. Serve these plums warm or chilled and they are delicious with whipped cream, yoghurt or crème fraîche or with yoghurt and star anise mousse. Any of the wine and plum syrup left over after eating the plums can be made into a lovely jelly. The syrup also makes an excellent cocktail when diluted with sparkling water and stiffened with a splash of vodka.
This is a lovely refreshing salad which I like to serve when the new season oranges from Italy, and dates from Morocco arrive in the shops in December. I scramble around in the garden trying to find a few surviving mint leaves to freshen it up. If the mint has all been scorched by the frost, I substitute it with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds. This dish can be served on its own with perhaps a little yoghurt or with yoghurt and vanilla ice cream.