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Nothing says “I love you” like a box of chocolates. And what’s not to like about a sweet, sensual, mood enhancer that also has antioxidants, lowers blood pressure, inhibits “bad” cholesterol, and is chock full of antioxidants and polyphenols. No wonder the scientific name of the plant that chocolate comes from, Theobromo Cacao, translates as “food of the gods cacao.”
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What about that plant, though? Even though I’m a lifelong chocoholic, I’d never given much thought to the small tree that is the source of all chocolate. That sin of omission was remedied on my recent first trip to Hawaii, the only place in the United States where cacao trees grow.
There, I saw the slender tree that thrives under the shade of the tropical forest canopy, admired its brightly colored cacao pods and popped raw beans from that pod, still encased in their softly glowing slick white coating, right into my mouth. And I learned that the chocolate bar or truffle you offer your loved one (or indulge in yourself) is the end result of a long, arduous, delicate process involving many steps and many hands.
Cacao’s difficult cultivation
Cacao is not an easy tree to cultivate. It grows only in the relatively narrow band 20 degrees north or south of the equator, and in that zone, it must be planted next to taller trees whose canopy protects it from direct sun and high winds. After trees are planted, they take five or six years to start producing, and mature trees bear only about 30 usable pods per year. With between 30 to 50 beans in an average pod, a single tree produces about 1,000 beans, enough to make only about 2 pounds of bittersweet chocolate.
The cacao tree is also susceptible to pests and diseases, which many producers seek to counteract by spraying chemical pesticides. In fact, cacao is one of the most heavily sprayed crops, and the chemicals are toxic not only for the intended pests, but also for other insects, birds, animals, plants and workers. When you seek out chocolate from organic cacao growers, you are supporting farmers who work to enhance biodiversity and protect the ecosystem, including the soil, air and water we all depend upon.
It was at the family owned and operated Ono Organic Farms, on the southeastern slope of the Haleakala volcano on Maui, that I witnessed the vegetal source of chocolate. Having never seen a cacao tree, I imagined the pods would be small and would hang from the ends of branches like “normal” fruit. Instead I saw a slender tree with improbably large pods emerging directly from the trunk. Large and pendulous, it seemed as if a gentle touch would send them tumbling earthward. The pods were the size and shape of a rugby ball and Crayola bright. Depending on the subspecies of the tree, and the ripeness of the pod, the color ranges from green through yellow, orange, red, purple and burgundy.
Chuck Boerner, the proprietor of Ono Organic Farms, pried a few cacao beans from a freshly opened pod and handed them to us. He instructed us to suck the thin, sticky flesh from the dark beans. That sweet, lightly acidic flesh is what kicks off the fermentation process, and although it’s not physically part of the end product, it’s where chocolate flavors begin.
Ono Organic Farms, and in fact Hawaii as a whole, have relatively few cacao trees, so we did not see the larger scale production that takes place in Africa, which produces 75% of the world’s chocolate. But regardless of the location or scale, the steps from cacao bean to chocolate bar are the same, and involve a lot of workers doing a lot of hand labor.
Because the cacao pods ripen at varying times, they must be harvested individually with machetes or knives, taking care not to damage nearby pods or buds. Workers cut the pods open, generally with a machete, and then scoop the beans out. The raw, pulp-covered beans are then placed in shallow wooden boxes, or put in piles and covered with banana leaves.
The sweet white coating on the beans gets fermentation going, as the sugar in the pulp is converted into acids that change the chemical composition of the beans. The fermentation process takes from two to eight days, and generates temperatures up to 125 F, activating enzymes that begin to create chocolate’s flavor profile.
To stop fermentation, the beans are uncovered and laid out to dry in the sun, where they stay until nearly all of their moisture has evaporated. Then they are roasted, and the dry husks are removed. This is the point at which beans are generally shipped to chocolate factories around the world to be made into chocolate hearts and bon bons and bars of all descriptions.
A journey to Fair Trade
Because so many human hands are needed to pick and process cacao, child labor is used in many places around the world resulting in mass-produced chocolate with a “dark side,” according to the 2012 CNN report on “Chocolate’s Child Slaves” and also according to John Robbins, author of “No Happy Cows: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the Food Revolution.” This makes it important to look for Fair Trade labels on your chocolate, just as many people do for their coffee.
After experiencing the beauty of the cacao tree, and learning about the process that starts with the bright fruit of a tropical tree I found myself enjoying the dark tasty treat of chocolate even more. And I realized that the organic and Fair Trade labels are as important on chocolate as they are on kale and coffee, and are another way to do good while eating well, and perhaps impressing your valentine as well.
Look for the Fair Trade and organic labels to do your part to create a better world and enjoy a guilt-free treat.
Where to find cacao and chocolate in Hawaii (not a definitive listing):
- On Maui, the exotic fruit tour at Ono Organic Farms includes cacao, but they do not process it into chocolate. Bob Dye runs Waimea Chocolate Company on Maui, which uses 100% Hawaiian cacao, with their products available at Sweet Paradise Chocolatier in Wailea and at Wailea Wine.
- On the Big Island, you can visit the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory.
- On Kauai, you may tour Garden Isle Chocolate and Steelgrass Farms.
Pods containing 40-60 cacao beans each hang from a tree in the McBryde Garden, part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden in the Lawa’i Valley on the south shore of Kauai Island in Hawaii. Credit: Terra Brockman
What looks like a cross between a giant thistle and supersized celery, but tastes like artichoke with a trace of truffle? Don’t worry if you don’t have a clue. Cardoons are still a rare find in U.S. stores, although more and more farmers are growing them. If you’ve spent time in Italy or Spain, though, you probably know them as cardi or cardone — a classic winter vegetable that is perfect in a bagna cauda.
Cardoons are among the vegetables that home gardeners have enjoyed and that great painters have lovingly rendered for centuries.
The cardoon in Juan Sánchez Cotán’s bodegón (a still life, usually in a pantry or cellar), is domestic and poetic, mundane and mysterious, secular and sacred. Somehow Sánchez Cotán painted the lowly yet lovely cardoon’s sharp edges in soft colors, making it pulse with hidden life. It’s a humble, ordinary scene, yet the gathering up of the fruits of the earth before they die and return to whence they came hints of the rituals of the altar.
The artichoke’s cousin
Like artichokes, cardoons are in the thistle family. Their wild ancestor grew all over the Mediterranean and was gradually domesticated. Some, bred for their big buds, became the artichokes we know today, while others, bred for a large and meaty petiole (leaf stalk), became the cardoon.
The cardoon plant resembles its forebears, with long stalks and velvety, deeply lobed, heavily spined, gray-green leaves with a felt-like surface. The pale green stalks are about an inch wide, and 18 to 22 inches long. Some cardoon stems are straight, but in Italy the most sought after are curved, a feature that results in their being nicknamed gobbi, or hunchbacks.
My brother, Henry, plants the Gobbo di Nizza (Hunchback of Nice) cardoons, as well as the Porto Spineless variety on his farm in Illinois. Both have the look and the crunch of celery, but the flavor is absolutely nothing like celery.
Cardoons are not normally eaten raw, but when my brother had me go chop one down (slicing through the 6-inch base is more akin to chopping a tree than cutting a vegetable), we inhaled the earthy truffle aroma, and decided to sample it on the spot. Raw, it has an immediate bitter bite on your tongue, but as you chew it, it develops complex and pleasant flavors. By the time you swallow it, you can’t help but take another bite, and soon the bitter flavor becomes addictive.
Worth the trouble
When cardoons are cooked, their membership in the artichoke family becomes apparent. But they are better than the best artichoke hearts, in that they seem to have been dusted with rich white truffle. A quick look through my Italian cookbooks suggests a variety of cooking methods, from braising to frying to making them into a risotto or gratin.
The cookbooks also make it clear that cardoons need some prep time. Chef Jason Hammel of Chicago’s Lula Café and Nightwood Restaurant, once said, “Good food is trouble.” And I say cardoons are a case in point. But anything worthwhile requires a bit of work, right?
In the case of cardoons, you trim the spines, peel the fibers and boil them for in water with the juice of a lemon before doing anything else with them. And honestly, that’s not so much trouble. Rest assured — what comes later makes it all worthwhile.
Try substituting this cardoon gratin for that tired old potato or squash gratin at your Thanksgiving dinner. Give an extra helping to whoever can identify the vegetable.
1 large cardoon (3 to 4 pounds)
¼ cup flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup coarsely grated provolone
½ cup finely grated pecorino
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Bring a large kettle of salted water to a boil. While the oven and the water are heating, prep the cardoons.
2. Use a paring knife or your fingers (I prefer fingers) to zip off the strings on the ribs of the cardoon stalks. (Some recipes say to peel the stalks with a vegetable peeler, but that just got my peeler all gummed up. Besides, you don’t have to get all the strings out for the cardoons to come out soft and luscious.)
3. Squeeze the lemon’s juice into a large bowl of cold water. Cut the cardoon stalks into 2- to 3-inch lengths, and put them into the lemon water to keep them from discoloring.
4. Put the squeezed-out lemon pieces into the boiling water and then whisk in the flour. According to some, this lemon-flour combination removes some of the bitterness from the cardoons, and keeps their pretty green color. Let the flour and lemon boil together for few minutes, and then toss in all the cardoon sticks, and boil about 30 minutes, or until the flesh is soft and silky. Drain.
5. Liberally smear olive oil (or bacon fat) all over the inside of a casserole dish that is large enough to hold all the cardoons. Arrange the cardoons in one layer, and then sprinkle with the provolone, and then with the pecorino. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese begins to brown. Serve immediately or at room temperature. This dish is even better as leftovers, reheated in the microwave or toaster oven.
Photo: Cardoons at farmers market. Credit: blowbackphoto / iStockphoto.com
Thanksgiving is the easiest and best time of year to “eat local.” I know, because the count of local items on our Thanksgiving table in central Illinois is up to 36. Of course that’s counting a dozen or so of the many herbs and fruits my sister raises, which find their way into everything from the stuffing, to the sides, to the dessert. Plus dozens of vegetables that my brother raises. Plus meat items from our father and grains from our neighboring farmers.
But you don’t have to come from a farm family or live in a rural area to eat local for Thanksgiving. It can be as simple as buying one item — a locally-raised turkey, duck, or ham, or local potatoes for the gratin, or a local pumpkin for the pie.
Even if you’re not a regular farmers market person, it’s easy to find local farmers and their products. Most places now have local food organizations (check out your local Slow Food chapter, for example), or you can go to websites like eatwild.org or localharvest.orgthat make it very easy to find items near you simply by entering your ZIP code and the desired item.
The first Thanksgiving
was a local affair
Most of what you find on a traditional Thanksgiving menu has its roots in local, seasonal foods. After all, the Native Americans were “locavores” back when “fresh and local” were not marketing terms, but just the way it was.
Yet too often we feel obliged to follow more recent traditions. We fill a Thanksgiving menu with an industrially raised turkey that’s been injected with saline to make it seem juicy, or Jell-O salad with canned fruit cocktail, or green bean casserole with canned mushroom soup, or sweet potatoes from a can, baked with butter and brown sugar with marshmallows on top. That’s what my Grandma made, anyway.
There’s nothing wrong with family traditions, but it’s easy and fun to give those old favorites new, healthy, tasty life with fresh, locally raised foods. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to choose from autumn’s bountiful cornucopia of locally grown foods.
Another reason to eat local for Thanksgiving
And there’s even more to be thankful for, because local foods, when grown without synthetic chemicals, enhance our personal health, the health of our farmers, their farms, and our communities. And the virtuous circle expands as local organic foods benefit the soil, air, and water upon which life depends.
There is just no better way to express gratitude for good food, local farmers, and their active stewardship of the land than to buy one or more local items for the big meal on the day we join together and give thanks. And it’s easy. Try tweaking your favorite family recipes. You’ll have the tastiest Thanksgiving ever, and you’ll help keep local, sustainable farms thriving now, and for many Thanksgivings to come.
Black Walnut Lemon Pound Cake
Some aromas are so unique and replete with memory they immediately transport you to a specific time or place. This one takes me into my grandmother’s kitchen on a dark winter day some 40 years ago, when she had baked a black walnut lemon pound cake, and it was just about ready to come out of the oven. My mouth was watering then, as it is watering now at the memory.
The black walnuts, notoriously difficult to crack in their concrete shells that break into sharp shards, if they break at all, had been somehow cracked by my grandfather in his secret way in the basement, where he would sit at his workbench and steadily crack one after another, filling up mason jars with the aromatic and oily nuts.
For the cake:
3 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2½ cups sugar
7 large eggs
1 cup sour cream (or ¾ cup buttermilk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
Juice from 2 lemons (about ⅓ cup)
1⅓ cups chopped black walnuts
For the lemon glaze:
1¼ cups powdered sugar (sift if lumpy)
1½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1½ tablespoons hot water, plus more if needed
¼ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
For the cake:
1. Heat oven to 350 F. Grease 10 x 4¼ tube pan and dust with flour, shaking out any excess.
2. Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl.
3. In another large bowl, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until the mixture becomes light and fluffy, approximately 2 minutes.
4. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in flour mixture and the sour cream or buttermilk.
5. Add eggs one at a time, beating 10 seconds after each addition.
6. Add vanilla, lemon zest and juice, and walnuts. Beat on low speed until blended.
7. Turn batter into pan, smoothing surface.
8. Bake on middle rack or oven for 1¼ to 1½ hours, or until surface is nicely browned and springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in thickest part comes out with just a few crumbs. Transfer pan to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Run a table knife around the tube and edges of pan until cake is loosened. Turn onto cake plate.
For the lemon glaze:
1. To make the lemon glaze, in a medium bowl, stir all ingredients together until well blended. Let stand for 2 minutes. If mixture stiffens too much, thin with a little more hot water.
2. Smooth glaze over the cake with a table knife or pastry brush.
Top photo: A selection of squash for a local Thanksgiving feast. Credit: Terra Brockman
At my brother Henry’s farm in central Illinois, the garlic harvest is one of the annual events that requires all hands on deck. The massive undertaking took on even more urgency this year as drought hastened the drying process, leading to yellow leaf tips by mid-June, indicating it was time to dig the garlic.
In the 20 years that Henry has been farming, this is the first year the garlic harvest has happened in June. This is also the first year when we had more than 25 helpers in the field, a veritable “crop mob,” thanks to some Evanston, Ill., farmers market volunteers and about 20 Illinois State University students.
Our Grandma Henrietta always said, “Many hands make light work,” and there was plenty of evidence of the truth of that aphorism. As the sun was setting after the first day of the garlic harvest, Henry calculated that 7,300 soft neck garlic plants (mainly the New York White variety) had been pulled, plus a few hundred small ones, plus about 1,200 large ones to be saved back as seed and planted in October. In addition, more than 1,000 of the hard-neck German Extra Hardy were pulled, adding up to about 10,000 plants out of the ground, which was roughly two-thirds of the total harvested this year.
The sheer number of plants to be pulled required everyone to work from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a two-hour siesta during the hottest part of the day. Henry was driven by twin engines of urgency. First, he needed to get the garlic out of the ground before it dried down too much and the tight bulbs began to open. An exploding bulb is less marketable and harder to rub clean of its flaky, outer skins. Plus, dirt gets in the center of an opening bulb, providing a perfect habitat for microbes that cause dry rot. Second, Henry was painfully aware that each hour devoted to the garlic harvest was an hour when people weren’t available to attack the weeds that were growing unmolested by hands or hoes.
Thanks to all the helping hands, instead of spending the entire week harvesting garlic, as we often do, we needed only two days and were then able to go back to the planting, trellising, mulching and myriad other pressing tasks.
In addition to the many helping hands, the work went swiftly because of the improved implement Henry had the local machine shop fabricate for him last year. Instead of the old implement consisting of four arrow-shaped sweeps, which was used along with pitch forks and strong backs, Henry now has a single broad blade that the tractor pulls beneath all the heads of garlic in the three rows that make up a bed. The blade cuts through the tight mop of roots, allowing the harvesters to easily pull up the dislodged garlic plants, shake off the dirt and stack them in neat pyramids, which are then brought to the hay rack.
When the rack is piled high, Henry hitches it to the pickup and drives it up to the barn where he and the interns, volunteers and family members work sorting and bunching it until, or even after, dark.
Each year we set aside the largest bulbs, about 10% of the total. The individual cloves from these bulbs will be planted in late October or early November. Until then, they hang in a separate section of the barn so that we will not inadvertently cut them down to sell. This selecting of the biggest and the best for the next year’s crop has been done since the dawn of agriculture, long before Gregor Mendel, the Augustinian monk, scientist and gardener, figured out the laws of inheritance. Mendel elucidated the mechanism behind what early farmers knew intuitively: saving the seed from the best plants capitalizes on random genetic variation. In this way, our garlic gets bigger and healthier and better tasting year by year as we select those plants best suited to our soil and our climate.
During this year’s drought, we had worried about the garlic and whether the bulbs would fill out. But garlic is an impressive scavenger of water — a single bulb can have roots that reach 30 inches down with a lateral spread of 18 inches in every direction — and so our garlic managed to get the water it needed, and the bulbs we have just harvested are quite magnificent.
Top photo: Harvested garlic. Credit: Terra Brockman
Some great things are worth waiting for, like aged cheeses, fine wines and true love. Now add to that list Chicago’s just-opened RM Champagne Salon.
Scheduled to open last February, the folks behind RM, the Element Collective, persevered through months of build-out and wrangling with city officials. The result is a magical place where the above-mentioned cheeses, wines, champagne and romance meet in subdued yet sophisticated splendor. All through the evening I spent there this week I kept wondering, “Am I in Chicago or Paris?”
Believe me, I know how ridiculous that sounds. Who would ever confuse Carl Sandburg’s “stormy, husky, brawling City of the Big Shoulders” with the ethereal, educated, romantic “City of Light?” But somehow, RM has done just that with a combination of elegant design, Midwestern modesty, knowledgeable staff who are wine geeks not wine snobs, stellar savory plates by executive chef Jared Van Camp, dangerous sweets such as petits fours and macaroons by pastry chef Nate Meads, and a highly curated wine list by sommelier Jason Wagner.
With no signage or on-street entrance (part of the city’s permitting issues that held things up), you can enter RM Champagne Salon at 116 N. Green Street in the hot West Loop neighborhood only via one of Chicago’s ubiquitous alleyways, which are generally dirty, stinky places for deliveries of merchandise and pickups of garbage.
But as soon as you turn into this particular alleyway, you begin to feel like Dorothy, although you are not in Chicago, not Kansas, that you are not anymore. Lighting at foot level and overhead draws you down the alley, which opens onto an uneven granite cobblestone patio with Moroccan lanterns overhead. You can sit there in the patio, or proceed up the expansive staircase to an upper-level patio, the perfect perch for people-watching. Or you can let yourself be drawn straight into RM Champagne Salon itself, a world of soft candlelight, white linen tablecloths, sparkling cut glass, and yes, champagne; RM Champagne, to be precise.
Vineyard to bottle
RM stands for récoltant-manipulant, which is basically “farm-to-table,” or more precisely “vineyard-to-bottle,” Champagne. Everything from the growing and harvesting of the grapes to the fermenting and bottling of the Champagne happens in the same place, generally on smaller vineyards that have been owned by the same family for generations. These small-batch, single-source Champagnes are commonly known as “grower Champagnes,” and have the same appeal as heirloom tomatoes and farmstead cheeses. They are all delicious examples of time-honored traditions, reflecting the soil and climate of a particular place, and resulting in high-quality artisanal products that give consumers the tastes and connections they crave.
Those specifics are what guide Wagner in all the selections on RM’s 200-plus wine list, 90% of which you probably won’t recognize. But that’s why you’re going to RM — to put your taste buds and tummy in Wagner’s very capable hands, and to experience extraordinary artisanal wines reflecting the terroir of a particular place and the work of a passionate craftsman. While you can certainly spend $1,500 for a rare magnum, or $45 a glass for something special, you can also get excellent reds and whites for $8 a glass, with no extra charge for the elegant ambiance.
Wagner himself embodies the contrasting “approachable artisanal” elements of the wine list. He is both relaxed and humble, and knowledgeable and well-spoken, with an impressive résumé that includes work as sommelier at A Voce and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon.
Wagner left New York for Chicago when his wife was accepted into the prestigious doctoral program in cognitive neurosciences at Northwestern University. Not long after moving, he asked “the Chrisses” (Chris Freeman and Chris Dexter, partners in the Element Collective) to put the word out he was looking for a job. Soon enough, they snagged Wagner for their own project, which turned out to be a perfect pairing.
Sexy in Chicago
For example, Van Camp’s menus for RM Champagne Salon, Nellcôte and Old Town Social in Chicago — as well as Quality Social in San Diego — celebrate local artisanal producers of fruits, vegetables, meats and grains. And, Wagner’s wine list honors the artisanal grape-growing and wine-making of grower Champagnes.
Wagner assured me that although RM will take reservations, half of the 150 patio seats will always be kept open for walk-ins. And so RM promises to be both a place to bask in sexy, sophisticated elegance on special “City of Light” nights, as well as a place to just relax on ordinary nights in the “City of the Big Shoulders.”
Guests at the newly opened RM Champagne Salon in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. Credit: Terra Brockman
The gooseberry has a long and illustrious history, in literature and in the kitchen. The Normans ate green gooseberry sauce with mackerel, and pigeons were stuffed with gooseberries. For dessert, there were gooseberry pies, tarts, pastries, puddings, jellies, jams and even a gooseberry wine celebrated by the English writer Charles Lamb.
Finding the goose in the gooseberry
There has been a lot of speculation about just where the “goose” in gooseberry comes from. Some sources say they are called gooseberries because they were used in a sauce for roast goose. Others say it is a corruption of the Dutch word Kruisbes or the German Krausbeere — or Crossberry. The species name grossularia means “curl” or “crisped,” which probably refers to the leaves, and that may have been corrupted into “gooseberry.”
The Oxford English Dictionary, however, says plants so often have names associating them with animals that the inappropriateness or illogic of the pairing does not provide sufficient grounds for believing that the name is an etymological corruption.
No matter how the name came to be, gooseberries were so common in Elizabethan England that Shakespeare used the expression “not worth a gooseberry.” A few centuries later, Anton Chekov wrote a short story called “Gooseberries,” in which a man’s brother pines for the countryside: ” ‘Country life has its advantages,’ he used to say. ‘You sit on the veranda drinking tea and your ducklings swim on the pond, and everything smells good . . . and there are gooseberries.’ ”
Growing up in the country, my family always picked wild gooseberries in our woods. We picked them hard and green since it seemed the wildlife ate them by the time they turned purple-black. They were tart little suckers, needing an equal amount of sugar to make them into a palatable pie or crisp.
But my sister Teresa now grows varieties that have beautiful red berries about three times the size of wild gooseberries, and they are meant to be picked ripe for eating fresh. Her main type, Hinnomaki Red, is a Finnish variety that is considered a dessert-quality berry. They have a perfect sweet-tart balance, and a wonderfully firm, meaty texture. I like to eat them plain like grapes, but I’m no fool, and now and then I splurge and make a Gooseberry Fool.
No fool like a gooseberry fool
Arguably the most famous dish made from gooseberries is a fool, a dessert made of stewed fruit mixed with milk, cream or custard. The “fool” is probably named after older fruit trifles — the use of “fool” in the sense of “foolish or silly” being suggested by “trifle.” In any case, gooseberry fool has been an English favorite for centuries.
Gooseberry Fool (adapted from “Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management,” 1861)
1 pint gooseberries, topped and tailed
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup sugar, or to taste
2 – 3 tablespoons water
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
1. Put the gooseberries in a non-reactive saucepan with the butter, sugar, and the water.
2. Cook very gently until the gooseberries are soft enough to mash, about 30 minutes.
3. Put them through a sieve or food mill and add more sugar to taste.
4. Fold the gooseberry puree into the whipped cream.
5. Chill for several hours and serve in a glass bowl.
Gooseberry Fool with Yogurt
This is a modern, healthier take on the classic Gooseberry Fool.
2 pounds gooseberries, topped and tailed (or keep them on for a little extra fiber)
1 cup Greek yogurt
¼ cup sugar
1. Put the gooseberries in a shallow 9-inch baking dish, sprinkle on the sugar, and bake uncovered in a 350 F oven for 20 to 30 minutes.
2.When they are cooked, tip them into a sieve set over a bowl to drain off the excess juice. Reserve about a quarter of the cooked gooseberries to use as a topping.
3. Place the rest of the gooseberries into a food processor, add 4 tablespoons of the reserved juice and process into a thick purée and then let cool.
4. Put the yogurt into a bowl, and fold in half the purée. Spoon into serving glasses.
5. Top each glass with a spoonful of the reserved purée and then a spoonful of the reserved gooseberries. Chill and serve.
Top photo: Red gooseberries. Credit: Terra Brockman