From a very young age, one of Neven's favourite pastimes was to shadow his mother in the kitchen, watching her cook; his pastime soon became ...
2 gelatine leaves
200 ml (7fl oz) cream
100 ml (3 1/2fl oz) buttermilk
50 g (2oz) caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, split in half with the seeds scraped out
150 ml (1/4 pint) milk
a vanilla pod, split in half and using just half
2 egg yolks
25 g (1oz) caster sugar
1 tblsp plain flour
275 g (10oz) butter, diced, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
150 g (5oz) icing sugar, sieved, plus extra to decorate
275 g (10oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
150 g (5oz) cornflour
100 g (4oz) caster sugar
100 ml (3 1/2fl oz) raspberry coulis (shop bought)
5 g agar agar
500 ml (18fl oz) mango coulis (shop bought)
50 g (2oz) white couverture chocolate
50 g (4oz) caster sugar
3 egg yolks
150 ml (1/4 pint) cream
25 ml (1fl oz) raspberry coulis (shop bought)
To make the buttermilk mousse, put the gelatine into a bowl of cold water and leave to soak for about 10 minutes. Put the cream, buttermilk, caster sugar and vanilla into a pan and slowly bring up to the boil, then take the pan off the heat.
Gently squeeze out the gelatine leaves to remove excess water. Add the gelatine to the buttermilk mixture and stir continuously until the gelatine is dissolved. Strain the mixture through a sieve into a measuring jug. Rinse off the vanilla pod and cut into quarters, then reserve for decoration. Divide the mixture equally between 6 x 50ml (2fl oz) dariole moulds or espresso cups, then place them on a baking sheet and leave to set in the fridge for at least 3 hours, or up to 2 days is fine.
To make the pastry cream, place the milk in a pan with the vanilla pod and seeds. Bring to the boil and remove from the heat. Meanwhile, using a hand-held mixer, beat the egg yolks in a bowl with the sugar and flour until thick and pale and leaving a trail.
Remove the vanilla pod from the milk and rinse well, then cut in half and reserve for decoration. Carefully pour the heated milk onto the egg yolk mixture, stirring to combine. Transfer to a clean pan and cook over a very low heat for 2–3 minutes, stirring continuously, until very thick. Do not allow to boil or it will curdle. Pour into a clean bowl and place a piece of clingfilm directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Leave to cool completely, then chill until needed.
To assemble, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4). Place one of the shortbread biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the pastry cream into the centre and arrange some raspberries around the edge. Top with another shortbread biscuit and repeat the cream and raspberry layer. Finish with a third shortbread biscuit and dust liberally with icing sugar. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make 6 shortcake stacks in total. Flash through the oven for 3–4 minutes to just warm through.
Place the butter and icing sugar in a bowl, then sieve the flour and cornflour on top. Using a hand-held beater, mix until you have achieved a smooth dough, adding 1 tablespoon cold water to help bring the mixture together if necessary. Cover with clingfilm. Place in the fridge to rest for at least 1 hour and preferably overnight.
Roll out the shortbread on a lightly floured work surface until it’s 3mm (1/8in) thick. Stamp out discs using a 5cm (2in) fluted cutter. Place on a greased baking sheet and leave to rest again in the fridge for 10 minutes – this will help to stop them from shrinking.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).
Bake the cookies for 10–12 minutes, until golden brown. Using a fish slice, transfer to a wire rack to cool.
To serve, arrange on a plate or use as required.
If cooking ahead, these biscuits keep well in an airtight container for 2–3 days. Alternatively, the dough can be frozen for up to 2 weeks
Place the sugar in a heavy-based pan with 200ml (7fl oz) water and put over a gentle heat, stirring until dissolved. Stir in the raspberry coulis and then remove from the heat.
Leave to cool completely. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You should end up with about 400ml (14fl oz) of sorbet. Use as required.
To make a coconut variation, replace the raspberry coulis with coconut coulis (shop bought) or even coconut milk. Proceed as described above.
To cook ahead, this can be made up to 1 month in advance and kept in an airtight container in the freezer until needed.
Place the agar agar in a pan with the mango coulis and blitz until smooth with a hand blender.
Bring to the boil, remove from the heat and leave to set in the fridge for 20 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and blend again until smooth. Place in a squeezy bottle and use as required.
To make a variation of this, Raspberry Gel, replace the mango coulis with shop-bought raspberry coulis.
Line a 18cm (7in) square tin with parchment paper.
Place the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Leave to melt, stirring until smooth.
Place the sugar and 100ml (3 1/2fl oz) water in a heavy-based pan and simmer gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil, then continue to boil without stirring until the mixture has reached 116°C (240°F), or the soft ball stage. That means that when you drop a bit of it into cold water to cool it down, it will form a soft ball.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a separate bowl until they look pale yellow in colour and have become thick and creamy in consistency. When the sugar has reached the correct temperature, quickly whisk
Pour the cream into another bowl and whisk until it forms soft peaks. Mix the raspberry coulis into the cooled egg yolk mixture and gently fold in the cream. Pour into the lined tin, then cover with clingfilm and freeze for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight, until solid.
To serve, carefully remove the parfait from the tin and peel away the parchment paper. Cut out 6 x 5cm (2in) rounds using a straight-sided cutter. Use as required.
To cook ahead, This can be made up to 1 month in advance and kept in an airtight container in the freezer until needed.