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No oven, no cry

The man STILL hasn't been around to fix the oven. Somehow, as I'm squatting at my parents' house, I've regressed to an infantile state where picking up the phone to organise anything domestic seems completely inconceivable. Breakfasts and main meals don't pose much of a problem at this time of year, but I'm not someone who can live without dessert for more than a few days at a time. It's amazing what you can do with a blender and a little wrist power.

Ovenless Dessert #1

My parents were home from their globetrotting for one night only and I'd offered to cook them dinner. I settled on a vegetarian main (risky with my father, who would usually consider this a starter) of quinoa risotto with peas, broad beans and asparagus (see previous post for recipe). A stove-top treasure. The local greengrocer's stash of gooseberries inspired the obvious pudding choice of a fool - an easy, no-cook delight, ideal to put together in a hurry.

Dad's feedback on my gooseberry fool was that it didn't taste like his mother's used to. Which is the last version he can remember eating, c. 55 years ago. I'm taking this as a compliment, as he claimed not to like gooseberries and certainly wolfed down my offering faster than you can say nostalgia. From what he remembers, Gaga's was more fruit based, probably making it too tart for a delicate little lad. I think a fool should be cream-rich. Like a cream-pie in the face.

Ovenless dessert #2

My second brief was to make something sweet and portable, that I could take in to rehearsals this week with me for snacks. Of course it should inspire a little healthy envy amongst my colleagues, and be guilt-free, in anticipation of having to strip off a little more than I'd like for the upcoming show. Date, pecans, cocoa and coconut might not sound like much, but these slices certainly hit my spot. And I got my Sunday baking fix without the baking. I won't call them brownies, because in my opinion a brownie must contain butter, sugar and egg. Nutty, sticky, lip-smacking squares? Fine.

Gooseberry fool

Enough for 4, takes 15 minutes, plus cooling time

dessert / ready in a jiffy / easy peasy / quietly smug / vegetarian / gluten free / summer / party / date night

Gooseberry fool

* Gooseberries - 400g

* Sugar - 1 tbsp

* Double cream - 200ml

Cook the gooseberries in a saucepan over a medium heat with the sugar and a tablespoon of water. Let them bubble for about 10 minutes, until about half of the berries have burst. While they're cooking, whisk the cream in a large bowl with a hand whisk. Keep going till the cream thickens and the whisk leaves ribbon marks in the surface. Remove the gooseberries from the heat and leave to cool. Once the fruit is completely cool (you can put them in the fridge to speed up the process), fold in the whipped cream. Divide between four ramekins and serve.

If you want to keep the fool in the fridge (it will keep for a day - after that the air will start to come out of the cream) make sure you cover it with cling film.

Date, pecan and cocoa slices

Makes 12 modest slices...takes 15 minutes

dessert / gluten free / dairy free / vegetarian / vegan / ready in a jiffy / nothing fancy / perennial / easy peasy

Date, pecan and cocoa slices

So quick to put together. So tasty. So HEALTHY.

* Dates - 250g, pitted

* Cocoa powder - 1/3 cup

* Coconut flakes - 1/2 cup

* Pecans - 2 handfuls

* Sea salt - a pinch

* Water - 1/3 cup

Place all the ingredients except the water in a blender and blitz until you have a course paste. Add the water and mix again. Line a small cake tin with baking parchment and smooth the mixture into the tin. Place in the fridge for a couple of hours to set.

Date, pecan and cocoa slices


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