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Nigel Slater’s Goat Cheesecake and Gooseberry Pudding Recipes | Food

WWhile impatiently waiting for the red and black currants to appear in large quantities and at a reasonable price, I instead make the traditional juice-infused gooseberry summer puddings. The first of our short season summer fruits, their exceptional pungency is welcome but can be softened with a little honey and a drizzle of elderflower syrup. My inclination is to serve them a certain version with a pitcher of cream – in fact I’d call it essential. Gooseberries, whether in a pie or a crumble, beg for cream instead of spicier crème frache or yogurt – that’s why they’re such a blissful fool.

The color of such desserts, fools, ice cream and this version of summer pudding is soft and reminiscent of a midsummer afternoon spent in the shade of a tree’s fanning canopy. You can top this with a pinch of mint sugar, which not only adds a splash of greenery, but also adds a touch of sweetness to those who need it. I bring the pudding to the table with a jug of warm gooseberry juice sweetened with honey and also a jug of cream.

The light green theme continues with the olive paste used to fill puff pastry tarts and their load of warm goat cheese. I chose to keep this recipe vegetarian, but you can add a few anchovy fillets—four is plenty—if you fancy something a little more spicy. The pasta is not only good for this, but also to serve with ravioli or, with a little more olive oil, as a dressing for pappardelle or other ribbon pastas.

A bowl with the olive paste is a very handy thing to keep in the fridge. Here at home, the delicious, citrus-and-salt paste is used as a dip for radishes and a spread for carta de musica – the wafer-thin Italian crispbread – oatcakes and the like, but it also makes a deeply fragrant dressing for warm new potatoes for a salad.

Goat cheese and green olive tarts

You can prepare the olive paste for these tarts in advance, but you can also roll, cut and score the tart pans. They can be kept in the fridge for a few hours until ready to bake. Makes 6 thin cakes

For the cakes:
flour to dust
puff pastry 240g
egg 1, beaten
goat cheese 180 g, soft

For the pasta:
green olives 200 g, stoned
basil 25g, leaves and stems
olive oil 75g
lemon 1

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 8.

Lightly flour the work surface and roll out the dough into a 30 x 22 cm rectangle. Keep the long side facing you.

Cut the puff pastry into 6 rectangles measuring approximately 15 cm x 7 cm. (In other words, cut the long side in half, then cut lengthwise into 3.) Place the dough rectangles on the baking sheet and score a rectangle in each, 1cm from the edge. Be careful not to cut through the dough all the way to the baking sheet.

Brush the outer edge of each piece of dough with a little beaten egg, making sure it doesn’t run down the sides – this will prevent the dough from rising. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven.

Make the olive paste: place the olives in the bowl of a food processor, add the basil leaves and their stalks and the olive oil. Grate the zest of the lemon and add to the bowl, squeeze the lemon and add the juice. Process into a thick paste.

With the dough out of the oven, use the back of a spoon to gently press down the center, notched rectangle of dough on each pie. Place 3 tablespoons of the olive paste in each of the wells.

Cut the goat cheese into thick slices and place 2 or 3 on top of each pie. Bake for another 10 minutes or until the cheese begins to melt. Eat hot.

gooseberry pudding

A touch of sweetness: gooseberry pudding.
A touch of sweetness: gooseberry pudding. Photo: The Observer

A chilled green summer pudding whose juices are warmed and sweetened with honey. I sometimes add a dash of mint sugar to the pale surface of the pudding — caster and mint leaves blended into a verdant green — and always serve them with a pitcher of cream or chilled custard — absolutely essential in my book.

Makes 4 individual puddings

gooseberries 850g
water 200ml
Elderflower Syrup 3 tablespoons
White bread 6 thin slices
honey 2 tablespoons

For the mint sugar (optional):
caster sugar 3 tablespoons
mint leaves 12, average

You will also need 4 deep porcelain dishes with a diameter of 8 cm and some transparent kitchen foil.

Remove the stems and dried flowers from the gooseberries, place the fruit in a stainless steel or enamelled pan with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the fruit cook for 5-7 minutes or until the fruit is opaque and soft. Remove from heat and stir in the elderflower syrup.

Line the insides of the ramekins with plastic wrap with enough overhang to fold over the top once filled with bread and fruit. Cut out 8 discs from the bread using an 8cm cookie cutter and place 1 in the bottom of each of the four 8cm molds. Reserve the rest.

Cut the remaining loaf into 2cm wide rectangles and use to line the sides of the ramekins, trimming if necessary. Fill the loaf-lined ramekins with the gooseberries – wrap them tightly to collect any extra juice – and place the reserved discs on top. Press down with a spoon to saturate the loaves with juice. Fold over the overhanging foil and place each dish on a baking sheet. Place a second sheet and a heavy weight on top and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, heat the reserved juice (there should be about 200 ml) in a saucepan and stir in the honey. Turn the puddings from their dishes into serving bowls or deep plates. Remove the film, spoon the heated juice over the pudding and serve with cream or custard.

To make the mint sugar topping, grind the sugar and mint in a food processor until the sugar is bright green. Sprinkle over the pudding as you bring it to the table.

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