Pudding Club: Raymond Blanc’s pineapple 3 ways

Recipe now on Raymond Blanc’s own site.

I think Raymond likes to put a challenge in his programmes and dare viewers to make the most complicated possible dishes. How many people does he really expect to have the time to follow such elaborate instructions? Saved for a year when I have days to practise is his “café crème” – a hand made chocolate espresso cup with coffee icecream in it and garnished with sugarcube truffles. (37-step written recipe here)

But for our recent pudding club outing it was his Pineapple 3 Ways dessert I made, another of his signature dishes, and one created for the Queen Mother, who was partial to pineapple.

The recipe is here, and I pretty much followed it as written, should you too fancy faffing for four hours with fruit.

Making caramel is still something I find difficult, and it’s possible I burnt it slightly. Adding cold water to hot caramel in a pan is a weird thing to do, and resulted in the caramel solidifying on the bottom with the water floating on top of it. Eventually it melted again and left me with a sauce for drizzling the roast pineapple in. Every 15 minutes for two hours!

When it came out, it looked like this and I should have served it this way for spectacle, rather than having to cut it up to transport:

Making Raymond Blanc's insanely complicated "pineapple 3 ways"

The roasted pineapple was delicious. If I do this again I will roast two pineapples. The same amount of caramel basting liquid would be fine and it would not be much more work to prepare and cook two. Even after roasting for two hours, I think the core was still pretty tough, so I carved it off and removed it.

The pineapple sorbet recipe is easy and delicious, and definitely something I will make again, although in slightly smaller quantities as it bulked up a lot in the ice cream maker and foamed over the edge of the pot before it froze. It would make a lovely inter-course palate cleanser for one of those no-holds-barred dinner parties.

The dried pineapple was a bit of a disaster. I don’t have a mandolin and could not get the slices thin enough.

Ultimately, six of us – four adults and two children under five – wolfed down two pineapples very quickly, with the children slightly short changed in how much roasted pineapple they got. It certainly wouldn’t have fed 8 adults, hence the idea of using two next time.

As I started to write this I had in mind that it was an enormous faff, but clearly by the time I get to the end I’m starting to think about the next time I do it…

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Summer of smoothies

So this summer, we have been making a lot of smoothies.

I’ve resisted them for years, because I assumed they relied on using those punnetts of expensive soft fruit, often flown across the world, and out of season. But somewhere on the internet, I got given the idea that bags of frozen berries work just as well, and can go straight into the blender from the freezer.

The frozen fruit is far cheaper than the fresh Class I stuff at the front of the supermarket, and so for the last couple of months I have kept my freezer stocked with berries and the blender in almost daily use.

My supermarket has a variety of berries, and we have mostly been using frozen cherries and a blueberry/strawberry mix. The black forest bags look like they ought to be delicious, but they are chock full of seeds from raspberries and they get stuck in my teeth.

The average smoothie is made with about 80grams of frozen berries, a banana, a small spoon of oats, and enough milk to get the consistency right. There’s two of your 5 a day right there! All of the ingredients can be room temperature, so long as the berries come right out of the freezer, and it still makes a nice cold smoothie without the need for ice.

I have been using these remedially when I am conscious that my diet has been poor and that I am nowhere near getting enough fruit and veg in. In extremis, some days I’ve been making 4-fruit smoothies by adding in canned fruits – the cheapest supermarket basics in the tinned pear and pineapple ranges. Since they’re going to be bashed into pieces, it doesn’t matter what size is in the tin.