These thin, crisp and delicious biscuits have many different uses. The original recipe comes from Chez Panisse in Berkeley in California. I was lucky enough to spend a month in the kitchens there a few years ago. I tasted these biscuits there and have adjusted the recipe slightly to suit our measurements and ingredients in this part of the world. They can be served with tea and coffee. They are good with ice cream and sorbets. They are fine enough to be served as a petit four. I also serve them with a Blackberry and Apple Fool in the autumn and Mango Fool in winter. They are very handy as the slab of uncooked biscuit keeps in the freezer and you slice off thin sheets and cook them as needed.
These burgers are sweet and delicious. Belly or shoulder of pork is best here as you are generally guaranteed a decent amount of fat from those two cuts, and fat is essential for a good burger. If the meat you are using is too lean the burgers will be dry, hard and lacking in flavour. The other crucial point to remember for any kind of minced meat dish is that the mince needs to be really fresh, so minced on the same day you are going to cook and eat them. Minced meat deteriorates faster than any other prepared meat, hence freshness is paramount. Aromatic roast fennel seeds work beautifully here as they do with almost any cut of pork and the pistachio nuts add their own magical flavour and texture. I serve these with various different dishes. A plain mashed potato is good as is the courgette and marjoram mash. They also sit happily with a tomato stew or sauce. A Bramley apple sauce or the version with plums is also good. Cook the burgers fully: this is not the time for a rare burger.
This is one of those recipes that somehow is greater than the sum of its parts. Raspberries, sugar and cream - three easy to source ingredients that produce a rich and luscious result. When available and in season, I use fresh raspberries. However this is excellent made with frozen berries and I have not quite decided yet if it is not actually better made with the frozen fruit. Soft fruit becomes tarter when frozen and this seems to accentuate the flavour when the fool is made with the frozen berries. Serve vanilla shortbread biscuit with the fool. If you have some of the fool left over, freeze it and serve as a raspberry ice.
I like to give myself every chance of success and when I know that I have the correct amount of ingredients in my bowl that is already a good start. Biscuits and pastries are much less forgiving than, say, a slow-cooked stew, so cooking times are also crucial. Here the rules and guidelines really matter and because I think this is such a marvellous recipe, I would really like it to work properly for you so that it might become a most useful part of your repertoire. This biscuit punches above its weight in terms of texture and flavour. It is a classic example of the value of using butter and, where possible, the value of eating a buttery biscuit or pastry on the day it is made. If you make this biscuit with salted butter it will taste like an Irish or English delight, if you use unsalted butter, it tastes more of France or Italy. There may be better biscuit recipes than this but there are few that are so straightforward, and reward so generously for such a small amount of effort.