The highlight of last week was tea, cake and a chat with a friend. She is blessed with an encyclopaedic cookbook knowledge, so it was a good chat. We went through each and every one of the books on my kitchen shelf – that’s quite a lot; and then we listed all the ‘must have’ books that I’m still missing – turns out that’s quite a long list too.
After extensive analysis, we concluded there and then that the world divides: people who like chef-y, restaurant-y cooking delicately apportion on to individual little plates, and people who go for homemade, call it rustic, plonk it in the middle of the table and help yourself kind of cooking on the other. It turns out we both fall into the latter side of the camp. And decided, in our benevolence, not to pass too harsh a judgement on those who – like my husband, and hers – fall into the former. Then we had another homemade brownie.
That said, here is a bona fide restaurant recipe: frozen berries with white chocolate sauce from The Ivy.
You go to the restaurant, you’re all dressed up and someone super glamorous, and thesp-y is sitting at the table next to you – think Meryl Streep or Damien Hirst. A delicate plate of frozen berries is presented to you, a waiter artfully pours piping hot, white chocolate sauce over your plate, which then – as if by magic – solidifies as it splatters on to the the icy fruit. Sublime. I have, in the past, insisted on lunching at the Ivy just for the pudding.
So I’ve recreated the dish at home. If not the dinner jacket wearing waiter or the frisson of being in the presence of a celebrity, certainly the pretty berries and the indulgent chocolate sauce. Then I added a pinch, or two, of saffron to give a summery, flowery undertone to the flavours; as well as an irresistibly and indulgently golden colour to the sauce. The fact that saffron by the gram is more precious than gold just adds to the exoticism of a dish that relies on simplicity. Oh so very chic.
To keep it homey and simple, I use a large dish – this Sophie Conran cake stand with a small lip is my favourite, but any shallow dish will work – to lay out the summer fruits. Then I pour the sauce from a big jug over the berries at the table and everyone digs in. All very homemade, plonk it in the middle of the table after all. Perfect for a summer’s evening.
PS The biggest thank you to all the truly lovely readers who have gotten in touch following my piece in the Mail yesterday. Your kind words and thoughtfulness have touched me immensely. And mean the world. Thank you.
- 200ml double cream
- 200g white chocolate
- 2 pinches of saffron - a little goes a long way
- 600g Frozen Mixed Summer Berries
- Pour the cream into a heavy based saucepan. Roughly chop the chocolate into small pieces and toss in with the cream. Set the pan over a gentle heat and stir constantly until the chocolate has melted, then add the saffron strands. Turn off the heat, cover and set to one side to allow the flavours to develop.
- When you are ready to serve, lay the berries out in one layer on a dish. Gently warm the chocolate sauce, stirring constantly to make sure that it is smooth and creamy, then pour over the berries and serve immediately.