Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fool!

Harbingers of spring:  tulips, fresh strawberries, and our version of April Fool.

Happy April Fools Day.

As one who abhors practical jokes, I strenuously avoid any of the traditional pranks associated with April 1st, but I couldn't resist this foodie connection, tenuous though it may be, to make and share Strawberry Fool.  I also liked the irony of it--Fool is a traditional British 'pudding'--and the island nation is not exactly known as a  culinary mecca.    ("Pudding," incidentally, refers to any dessert in the UK.)  Ok, we can't exactly call this a prank, but a yummy British recipe does sound a bit like a joke.  Add that to the dish's name:  "Fool" (less giggle-worthy than another famous Brit dessert--Spotted Dick--I swear) and we're getting close to something kind of funny.  Finally, having partnered in this Phood-venture with an Englishwoman, it seemed appropriate to feature one of the few (sorry, Claire) highlights of her culinary heritage.  Fish and chips being another; watch for future post on local chefs' tips for successful frying.

While thinking about Fool, the first thing that springs to mind is, "What's with the name?"  The recipe dates back to the mid 17th Century, and food historians hypothesize that the name derives from the French word "fouler" meaning "to press", referring to the crushing of the fruit before it is blended with the cream.

So, without further ado, here is my recipe for...

Strawberry April Fool
(makes 2 large or 4 small portions)

1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup confectioners sugar

3/4 cup fresh strawberries
2 Tbsp sugar (more if berries need sweetening)
1 Tbsp cranberry juice (lime juice, orange juice or apple juice may be substituted).

In large bowl, mix cream, cheese, and confectioners sugar; beat on high til it is whipped, holding soft peaks, about 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash and hull strawberries, place them in blender or food processor with sugar and juice.  Give this mixture a brief whizz; you don't want puree, more like a chunky soup or salsa consistency.

Gently fold the fruit mixture into the cream mixture and stir a few times.  You don't want it fully blended; the streaks and color variation make for a beautiful presentation.  Serve in martini glasses, small wine glasses or teacups.

Variations:  instead of strawberries, use mango, peach, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or a combo.  I am tempted to try Nutella Fool....stay tuned.

All ingredients can be found at Reading Terminal Market and we eagerly anticipate "Fooling" around with a variety of local fruits as they become available.

NOTE:  This is a very summer-y dessert; in fact, when served the above, my husband said, "It's delicious, but it seems like something we'd eat in August."  He's right; (that occasionally happens)  Fool is a perfect way to use the bountiful harvest of summer fruits and is a lovely dessert to create without turning on the oven in the hottest months. He also pointed out that with its rosy hue, Strawberry Fool was perfect for today, in honor of opening day for the Phillies.    Let's hope it gets them off to a rousing start!

And regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum this is a pretty funny clip featuring the word "Fool."

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