July 28, 2009

Lemon, Shortbread And Raspberry Dessert Shots

The inspiration for these dessert shots came to me after dining out on numerous occasions and wanting just a "taste" of something sweet after my meal. Unless I'm feeling voracious or plan on running for 5 miles the following day, the last thing I want in front of me is an oversized portion of double chocolate fudge brownies with vanilla ice cream and lashings of caramel sauce! As tempting as that sounds, unless there are two or three desirous bellies sitting with me at the table, I almost always resist.

I'm sure there are some restaurants out there that give you the pleasure of choosing between a shot of tequila or a shot of creme brulee? I have yet to come across one but if you know of any I would love to hear about them!

These shots are perfect for people that enjoy dessert in "smaller" quantities. They are particularly fun to serve at dinner parties, or any kind of party for that matter!

Oh, and did I mention that they were incredibly easy to make!

Makes approximately 10, depending on the size of your glasses. I used these.

1/2 cup (4 oz ) whipping cream
1/2 cup sour cream, I used reduced fat
1/2 cup good quality lemon curd
6 oz raspberries, plus extra for garnishing
6 Walkers shortbread fingers, or any other good quality shortbread
Lemon slices to garnish

With an electric hand mixer, whisk whipping cream until thick and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. If you don't have an electric hand mixer, whisk until both arms start to ache :)
Add sour cream and whisk for another minute or so.
Add lemon curd and mix until thoroughly combined.

Rinse raspberries. Set aside 1 raspberry for every dessert shot you make. These will be your garnish.

Place the rest of the raspberries in a small bowl and crush lightly with the back of a spoon. Add enough sugar to take away the bitterness. I used 1/2 tsp for 6 0z.

Chill in the fridge along with the lemon cream for at least 2-3 hours. The longer the better.

Place the shortbread into a medium to large sized zip-lock bag. Using a rolling pin or meat pounder, crush the shortbread into coarse crumbs. Be sure to leave a few good chunks in there.

Note: All of the above can be done 24 hrs prior to serving.

Depending on how many shots you will be preparing and how fast you are, allow at least 15 minutes to prepare 10, as they can be a bit fiddly.

With a small spoon or piping bag, put a layer of the raspberry sauce into each glass.
Add a layer of lemon cream.
Then a layer of shortbread.
And then another layer of cream, etc..
Finish at the top with a layer of cream.
Garnish each glass with a raspberry and a small slice of lemon.

July 22, 2009

Sunblush Tomatoes

These Sunblush tomatoes also known as (semi dried tomatoes) are simply divine. What is the difference between 'semi dried' and 'sun dried' you ask? Well the answer is really very simple. Sun dried tomatoes are fresh ripe tomatoes that are placed in the sun to remove almost all of their water content. In Italy fresh tomatoes were placed on tile roof tops as a way to preserve them for the winter. This technique is still used today but mainly for commercial use. Unlike Sunblush tomatoes the sundried variety are somewhat unattractive. They tend to resemble little shriveled pieces of chewed red leather. They can, however be a joy to eat but they usually have to be soaked in water for a while or doused in large amounts of olive oil in order for them to soften somewhat.

Personally, I prefer Sunblush tomatoes. These babies are semi dried and removed from the heat at the half way stage resulting in a less chewy and instead a more plump and semi juicy tomato. They have an intense sweet summer flavour that will have you hooked from the minute you taste them. Try them with bread, cheese (especially goat's cheese), salads, pasta, sauces, or as part of an Antipasti.

Sunblush tomatoes are still largely undiscovered. However, they are available from good delicatessens at specialty supermarkets. Available for a small fortune that is! So skip the trip and make them yourself with these very cheap and very simple ingredients.

Although this recipe requires that you use a rather large amount of tomatoes, you will actually only end up with about 1 to 1- 1/2 cups of the finished product. However, because they posses so much flavour you won’t need to use as many at a time as you would regular tomatoes.

You will need:

2lbs of cherry tomatoes (about two punnets)
3 tbls olive oil
2 tsp kosher salt
1 heaped tsp dried thyme
1/4 heaped tsp caster sugar (superfine)

Preheat oven to 225 F

Cut tomatoes in half and arrange cut side up on a large baking tray lined with a baking mat or parchment paper.

Drizzle over the olive oil and then sprinkle evenly with the salt, sugar and thyme.

Place in the preheated oven and leave for at least 4 hours. The finished tomatoes should be somewhat dry but still a little juicy. They should look like this when they are done.

When ready, spoon the tomatoes into a sealable container with any remaining oil. Top up with a little extra olive oil if desired. They will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks, although being as delicious as they are it is impossible to keep them around for that long! Enjoy!