311. Damson Fool (Basics etc.)
Nigella writes, "damson fool is the recipe for which I wait most greedily". It's in the FOODS IN SEASON section of the Basics etc. chapter, which comprises suggestions and recipes for "the foods whose short season it would be criminal to ignore". Naturally, she refers to the seasons in England, so the chapter has almost no practical application for me down here in Australia. Firstly, as I'm in the southern hemisphere, our seasons are back-to-front from England's. Secondly, and more importantly, many of the seasonal foods Nigella writes about are totally unavailable in Australia - purple-sprouting broccoli, for example.
This is not to say that I have abandoned this section completely, though. When Seville oranges were in season, (in July), I went a bit nuts and made the Seville Orange Marmalade, canard à l'orange and scallops with bitter oranges and a Seville orange curd tart. And as for those seasonal foods which never appear in Australia, I've made some substitutions so that I can, at the very least, try out the recipe. For instance, for Nigella's Young Grouse with Mascarpone and Thyme, I substituted quail for the grouse.
Similarly, when I made the damson fool tonight, a bit of clever engineering was required. In the recipe, Nigella says to cook 500grams of damsons, then stone them, and mix them with sugar, spice, and whipped cream. Damsons do not exist in Australia, but damson-related products are technically available. That is, if you have a generous friend, who doesn't mind finding some and sending them to you specially from England. Thank-you DG!!
As you can see in the photo below, I am now the proud owner of a small bottle of damson gin, and a jar of deeeeelicious organic damson preserve. The damson preserve is by Duchy Originals, bought at Fortnum and Mason's, and the alcohol is from this company called Bramley & Gage, which make a wide variety of fruit liquers.
By the way, I also got a couple of bottle of quince liqueur, and one of raspberry liqueur. Can anyone guess which recipes I'll be making with those?
Ok, so back to the recipe. In the absence of fresh damsons to cook, my method of choice was to whip up the cream with the sugar in one bowl, and mix the jam with some cinnamon, and some damson gin in another bowl. Then I folded both together.
I was basically making this recipe just to taste it, not to serve as a proper dessert, so I made it in approximately half-quantities. This was mainly because we've never had fool before, so I wasn't sure if we'd like it. Also, I didn't want to be too extravagant with the damson preserve, as it's hard to come by. In total I used about 150ml cream, a couple of big spoonfuls of the preserve, 2tsp of icing sugar, a pinch of cinnamon and just a few drops of the gin.
This made one large glassful, which I shared with my parents as a snack tonight.
How pretty, the fool!
It was lovely - sweet and creamy and full of damsony goodness. Honestly though, it might have been a bit much in larger quantities. Surprisingly, my parents really really liked it. I thought they might find it a bit too rich or sweet, but they didn't think so at all. Then again, they didn't see the half-tub of double cream that went into it...