Monday, 9 January 2012

Q is for... Queen of Puddings (and Quaking Pudding) with a quenelle of Quark ice cream

Richard took me to Heston Blumenthal's The Hinds Head in Bray a few years ago and, although the famous triple-cooked chips were everything everyone said they were, it was the quaking pudding that really resonated for me. I found this recipe penned by the great man himself and followed it to the letter. TO THE BLOODY LETTER, HESTON! And (forgive me if I sound too much like Gregg Wallace here) although the flavour was the same comforting custard-y cuddle I'd remembered, this  pudding was less quaking and more total collapse. My quaking puddings resolutely refused to set and as such were a resounding flop. It was all the more annoying to later discover that Heston had published another recipe for quaking pudding all of three months later, which is COMPLETELY different. He'd clearly cocked it up the first time round and had to revisit the recipe to correct it. I wish I'd found the correction first, then maybe Q night would have been saved from a pudding of quaking soup. It wasn't all bad though. As is my usual wont, I couldn't decide which pudding to make out of quaking and queen of, so I did the only sensible thing and made both.

On P night, the guests were making predictions for Q's menu and the inimitable Chris Neill's offered suggestion was "a quenelle of some shit". So a quenelle of some shit or other it had to be, and what better shit to choose than another ingredient beginning with the letter Q. I went for a quenelle of Quark, which some might think is quite shit in and of itself, due to its staggeringly and saintly low fat content. It turned out not to be shit at all and, in actual fact, was rather delicious and cheese cake-y when transformed into lemon ice cream - the slug of cream probably didn't hurt it either.

Queen of Puddings

It's traditional to use breadcrumbs, but I think they taste nicer with brioche. If you take objection to  this alteration, by all means substitute the brioche crumbs for white breadcrumbs. I attempted to make just the right amount for two puddings, but, as usual, I over-estimated and ended up with three. I made these in custard pots, which I think are probably a little bigger than ramekins, so you might be able to get a fourth pud out of the same volume of mixture. 

300ml of full fat milk
75g brioche crumbs
A knob of butter, plus extra for greasing
50g caster sugar
A pinch of salt
The finely grated zest of half a lemon
A dash of vanilla extract
2 eggs
A pinch of salt
A couple of tbsp of raspberry jam (or whatever jam you fancy)

Bring the milk to the boil and take the pan off the heat. Stir in the brioche crumbs, butter, 25g sugar, lemon zest and vanilla and leave the mixture to swell for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, butter your custard pots/ ramekins and place them on a baking tray and preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan).

Separate the eggs and whisk the yolks into the cooled brioche mixture. Divide the mixture between your buttered dishes, flatten their tops and pop them into the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until set.

Melt the jam in a small saucepan and spread it over the set puddings. Whisk the whites with the salt in another bowl until stiff, then gradually whisk in the remaining sugar. Generously spoon a a mound of meringue on top of each pudding and fluff it up with a fork. Return to the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the meringue tops are golden brown. Leave the puds to cool a bit before serving.

Quark Ice Cream 

(this obviously makes more than 2 quenelles' worth)

The zest and juice of 2 lemons
4 tbsp of caster sugar
1 tub (250g) Quark
125ml double cream

Place the lemon zest and juice in a saucepan with the sugar over a gentle heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and you have a light syrup. Leave to cool. 

Whisk together the quark and cream and add the syrup - A strained mine of zest because I wanted it smooth, but you don't have to. Mix it all together and pop it in the fridge for half an hour or so to make it properly fridge-cold. 

If you have an ice cream machine, then follow the manufacturers instructions. If not, pop the mixture in a tupperware box and stick it in the freezer, giving it a vigorous whisk every half an hour or so until it's set to stop any ice crystals forming.

Take the ice cream out of the freezer for 5-10 minutes before you're ready to serve your pudding to soften. Using two tablespoons, scrape a spoonful of ice cream back and forth between the two spoons until you have made a rugby ball shape. Plonk it on a plate next to your queen of pudding and dig in.

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