Disaster. Diane phones from the airport in England. On a flying pre-Christmas visit to see her ailing mum, she hasn’t had time to get out to the Chatsworth farm shop in Derbyshire and replenish our supplies of fruit coulis.
Chatsworth is a spectacular stately country house, more like a palace really, and the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, Peregrine and Amanda to their friends, among whom they do not count me, sadly. The last time we visited the front was covered with scaffolding and unphotogenic, we were beset by tour groups and retreated to the gardens on an appallingly hot day, unusual for England. The gardens are noted too, and we gratefully found some shade, sat on the grass and watched the fountains play.
While the house is well-worth a tour, the farm shop is what really excites a foodie. The food all comes from the estate or small local providers and everything I’ve ever bought and eaten from there has been outstanding. It is reckoned to be the best farm shop in England. The staff, some of whom undoubtedly tug their forelocks when the Duke appears, are polite and helpful and the butchers wear traditional boaters.
Back to coulis, or the lack thereof. We’ve tried the Chatsworth raspberry, mango and passion fruit, and summer fruit versions and all added an extra zing to hot desserts and ice creams. They only last about three weeks in the fridge after opening, so three jars will last us about nine weeks theoretically, if we were disciplined and opened them one after the other, rather than like kids in a candy store, opening all three at once and taste testing as an excuse for another serving of ice cream on a sweltering summer day in Toronto.
Childhood memories of a distant aunt painstakingly pureeing raspberries through a sieve have always put me off trying to make my own coulis, but needs must. In a few days we will be having a series of Christmas dinner celebrations where fresh fruit and ice cream make the perfect end to a heavy meal. Time to check out my reference books and the web.
Turns out, it couldn’t be easier! Here’s the result.
1 pint/12 oz/340 g fresh raspberries or frozen
1 – 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 – 4 tbsp sugar (to taste depending on the sweetness of the fruit)
Equal quantity of water
Grenadine syrup (optional)
Blender or food processor
PREPARATION AND COOKING
1. Make a “simple syrup” by adding the sugar to boiling water and stirring until dissolved. Cool.
2. Wash thoroughly, dry excess moisture and put the raspberries in the blender. Add half the simple syrup and half the lemon juice. Blend until thoroughly pureed. Taste and add more simple syrup or lemon juice as needed (see NOTE below). The mix should be tart, rather than sweet.
3. Push the mix through a fine sieve, a little at a time, to remove the seeds. Catch it all in a bowl and then store in the fridge for up to three days in an airtight container, or freeze for up to two months.
TIP: Store in a plastic squeeze bottle so you can add the coulis to dessert plates with a professional decorative flourish.
NOTE: In the winter imported berries may not be as sweet as the summer harvest. One trick is to add a couple of tsp of grenadine syrup for flavour, colour and sweetness.
Here are some variations I’m going to try when fresh fruits are available.
BLACKBERRY COULIS: Blackberries, lemon juice
SUMMER FRUIT COULIS: Black currants, red currants, raspberries (NOTE: The black and red currants will need cooking in boiling water until they burst open.)
CARIBBEAN COULIS: Mango, passion fruit, orange juice, lemon juice
PS: Please leave a comment, if you found something useful or interesting in this recipe. Or please add your own variations for others to share.