Blood Orange Posset

Like people, there are recipes blessed with both beauty and elegant names. When my daughter was four years old, she heard a waiter in a Portuguese restaurant say that the fish of the day was ‘pan-fried-fillet-of-golden-bream’. It had such a poetic lilt to it that my daughter repeated the name of this dish endlessly, enchanted by its rhythm.

Sadly ‘Blood Orange Posset’ got a rough deal when names were being handed out. The word ‘blood’ is never good when attached to an elegant pudding and ‘posset’ (like ‘gusset’, ‘corset’ and ‘thicket’) is just plain horrible. But don’t be fooled. Blood Orange Posset is a divinely creamy confection with the fresh sting of Sicilian oranges and the extravagant indolence of double cream. It’s also the easiest pudding I know.

Blood Orange Posset With Candied Orange Peel

Serves 4

For the Posset

2 blood oranges (ordinary oranges or even lemons will work too, but you won’t get the bubblegum-pink final result). You will need the juice plus the finely grated zest

500ml double cream

120g caster sugar

Bring the cream and sugar to a boil in a pan and then bubble gently for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the juice and zest. Stir to combine. Pour the mixture into glasses or bowls and refrigerate for at least 3 hours until it’s set.

For the Candied Peel

Peel of 2 blood oranges

Half cup caster sugar

One cup water

Peel long, very fine strips from the oranges and put them in a pan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, drain the water off and then repeat twice more. In the meantime, in a separate pan, combine half a cup of sugar and one cup of water and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer for a couple of minutes and then add the previously boiled orange peel to the sugar solution. Simmer for a further ten minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, allow to cool and then hook out clusters of peel from the pan with a fork and place carefully on top of each posset.

All you need to do now is to eat your Blood Orange Posset while dreaming up a new name for it. Since I’m speaking as someone who created a ukelele pop group when she was nine years old called The Umbilical Chord I think I should leave the re-naming to you.


DIY Miso Soup

I’ve argued for years that if children’s books can have illustrations, why shouldn’t novels for adults? When Jonathan Safran Foer published Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close I felt vindicated. It has drawings, typographical experiments, photographs, a flip-book …and it’s magnificent.

Safran Foer has just outdone himself. I’ve spent the evening reading his latest work Tree of Codes. It’s a startling and physically beautiful book, a reworking of Bruno Schulz’ 20th Century story The Street of Crocodiles. Even the new title is a variation on the original – slice ten letters from The Street of Crocodiles and Tree of Codes is the result.

The die-cut book is a work of delicacy and ingenuity. Turn a page too briskly and it will tear. Words glimmer through the gaps so that each reading of the novel produces a new story.

It’s a novel that expects effort, but the reward is that it becomes one’s own. As I explored Tree of Codes this evening, I ate a bowl of DIY miso soup, something I’ve been eating most days since January 1st. DIY soup demands that the eater works at it, creates it at the table. And just like Tree of Codes, it’s different every time.


Serves 2

20g dried shitake mushrooms

2 tablespoons miso paste

3 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoon fish sauce

1 litre water

2 cm chunk of fresh ginger

2 cm length of lemongrass

2 nests of fine egg noodles

Half fresh red chilli

Handful coriander leaves

2 spring onions or scallions

2 cloves finely chopped garlic

200g raw King prawns

Pour a little boiling water over the mushrooms and put to one side. Peel the ginger and grate it into a saucepan large enough to hold 1 litre of water. Chop the lemongrass roughly and add to the pan, along with the miso paste, and the soy and fish sauces. Bring to a gentle simmer, take off the heat and allow the flavours to develop.

Finely chop the chillis and spring onions and put into two serving bowls. Put the washed coriander leaves in a third bowl. Rinse the softened mushrooms and add to a fourth bowl. Line these up on the table with a serving spoon in each. Place the uncooked noodle nests into two soup bowls, bring the soup back up to a simmer. Strain it and divide equally between the two bowls, pouring it over the noodles to soften them while you cook the prawns. Saute the prawns in a little olive oil with the finely chopped garlic. When the prawns are pink, tip them into a fifth serving bowl and take to the table. By this time the soup liquor will have cooked the noodles. Just add generous helpings of all or some of the extra ingredients to your soup and start to eat.

I made DIY soup for twelve people yesterday and the choosing and the eating made a simple meal into an event. It would have been even better if all twelve of us had had our own copy of Tree of Codes to read aloud from as we ate.