Quince Trifle and Charred Figgy Sprouts

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Let the festivities begin!!

Charred Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo and figs
This is a very easy and deliciously different way to prepare your brussels sprouts, the sweetness of the figs with the smokey , spicy chorizo is a great match for the sprouts. I like to use Fingal Ferguson Gubbeen Smokehouse raw chorizo.

Serves 4-6
300g/9 oz brussels sprouts
60g/2oz chorizo
100g/4oz dried figs

Peel the outside layer of leaves off the sprouts and cut just a tiny part of the base stem off, then cut in half.
Heat a pan, chop the chorizo into smallish chunks and fry on the pan, no oil needed, for a minute or so, then remove and set aside.
Without washing the pan, and while it is still piping hot, using no oil apart from what is left over from the chorizo place the sprouts on cut side down (you may need to do this in two batches). Char the sprouts for about three to four minutes before tossing around, they should be nicely blackened ,it should take about five minutes in total for them to cook before adding back in the chorizo and then the chopped dried fig.
Toss around again and cook for a further minute and serve.

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Quince and Pandoro Trifle
Serves 8

Trifle; velvety custard mixed with cloud like whipped cream over a crowd-pleasing sponge with a bit of booze and fruit. Come on, how could you not love it.

For this recipe I am using pandoro, the famous Italian Christmas sweetened bread which I am renaming sponge for the purposes of this recipe, its delicious and its dry which works really well with the rest of the layers in a trifle and lets face it, its one less thing to cook!

The quinces are lovely to use for a change to this years trifle.
I have been cooking with quince all autumn long, I just can’t get enough of them and although the bush I pick from is almost bare there are still some windfalls which, I think due to their incredible tartness, never seem to be touched by insects or slugs, so I am using them up as well.
They can however, still be found in shops. (Some pears poached in a vanilla or white wine syrup would be a nice alternative). A little goes a long way and I cook them off with sugar and vanilla, the same way as I have done for the quince fool in a previous issue. I am including that recipe again in case any of you missed it.
You can keep the purée in the freezer to add to many different deserts such as the fool but also ice cream and tarts.

I have included a recipe for home-made custard but there is nothing stopping you from using a bit of Birds Eye, I tried it after I put together this trifle to see how different it would be, given that it has been about 30 years since I’ve tasted it. I was a huge fan as a kid! Of course I thought it would be beastly but I was more than pleasantly surprised and it would work perfectly fine for this recipe cutting out out another lengthy step, its up to you.

The Booze;
I have used sloe gin in this recipe as it is sweet, flavorsome and, to my mind, doesn’t have the powerful alcoholic flavor of sherry. I think a little calvados would be really nice too for those of you who like a bit more kick.

The Topping;
Ordinary whipped cream should not, in my mind be substituted for anything else but you can add a touch of sugar if you like and top off with any fruit you please. I was looking for pomegranates because they taste great and look like little jewels on top of the whipped cream but they were nowhere to be found so I opted for totally unseasonal blackberries. Ironic I know, as I was avoiding using the usual yet unseasonal strawberry or raspberry trifle, but there we go!!

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1 Pandoro (you will only need half but it keeps really well and delicious on its own)

Quince Puree

Can be done in advance

Preheat the oven to 180C

6 medium quinces
250g sugar
zest of ½ lemon
1 vanilla bean
4 tbsp water

Peel the quinces, cut into quarters, and core as best as possible.
Place the quince in a roasting tray, cover with the sugar, water and lemon zest. Split the vanilla bean in half, length ways and add.
Cover with foil and cook in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until soft.
Pass the quince through a sieve to purée; this also removed the pith and any seeds that remain.
Save the syrup that comes from the sugar, water and juices to add to the sponge later
Taste for sweetness, quinces can vary in tartness; it should be sweet but tangy. Add a little icing sugar if too tart.
Refrigerate until completely cold.

Custard

300mls/ ½ pt Milk
300mls/ ½ pt Cream
6 egg yolks
3 tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp corn flour
1 vanilla pod

Whisk the eggs and sugar and corn flour together until they start to go pale
Heat the milk and cream and vanilla pod, split in two, in a pot to a bare simmer
Whisk a small amount of cream and milk mixture into the egg and sugar then slowly add the rest of the milk/cream in while whisking all the time.
Quickly clean the pot (really helps to stop it from splitting) and add the contents of the bowl back into the pot.
Over a medium low heat stir with a wooden spoon in a figure of eight until the custard thickens and coats the back of the spoon thickly.
If you run your finger along the back of the spoon it should hold a line.

Remove the vanilla pod and pour into a bowl and allow to cool completely.

The Remaining Ingredients
6-8 tbsp of sloe gin
The syrup from the roasted quince
300mls/ ½ pt cream
I tbsp icing sugar
A handful of whole, skinned almonds, toasted until light brown and chopped roughly
Some fruit of choice to decorate
A few mint leaves, optional

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To Assemble:
Cut two inch-thick circular slices of the Pandoro from the bottom; so you can still use the other half. These will be star shaped circles.
Then cut across each point until you have diamond shapes.
Line the trifle dish with half the diamond pieces of sponge (see photo).
Pour over the sloe gin and about 4tbsp of quince syrup.
Spread half the quince paste from the centre of the sponge layer and into the spaces at the sides.
Then add another layer of pandoro diamonds.
Pour over the rest of the sloe gin and another 4tbsp of quince syrup.
Then spread the rest of the quince syrup into the spaces between the pieces of sponge.
Pour in the custard and break up any left over pieces of sponge into the wettest part to soak up the custard.
Refrigerate and allow to set.

Before serving whip the cream and icing sugar and cover the top of the trifle.
Scatter over the chopped toasted almonds and decorate with what ever fruit you choose and some mint leaves.

Have a very happy Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year from all of here at Breaking Eggs