Blackcurrant Fool

The school where I used to work had an inconsistent gardening situation. Things would grow, things would die, they'd hire someone new, it would all start again. One happy day, waiting for a ride outside on the hot pavement, I noticed a mature blackcurrant bush had been planted, as if it had rained down from the heavens. I watched it like a hawk, then picked them at their peak, on the sly. 

handful of blackcurrants
red or blackcurrant jam (other jams work just fine too)
lemon juice
3 dried juniper berries
scattering of sugar
thick cream
cream of tarter
powdered sugar

Whip the cream with a generous pinch of cream of tartar, and a pinch or two of powdered sugar. I like it less sweet. The cream of tartar lends a tangy note that is quite complimentary to that of the black currants. I also like the cream to be slightly less stiff. If it whips too thoroughly, I add more cream and just stir until it has evened out. 

In a small saucepan, place the currants (de-stemmed, top/tailed) with a tiny amount of water and a scattering of sugar. Raise the heat to high. Smash three juniper berries and add them to the mixture with a dribbling of lemon juice. If you have no juniper berries, but do have gin, a splash will do great. Cook for about 2 minutes at the most. Stir in a spoonful of jam. Turn off the heat. If it's too thin, strain out the blackcurrants, continue cooking the liquid until it has reduced, then add the blackcurrants back in when you take it off the heat. Let cool completely. 

Fold with the cream. It can be served right away for a softer dessert, chilled until set for a medium-soft dessert, or nearly frozen for a on-its-way to semifreddo dessert. Serve with almond biscotti or an almond cookie of some kind.

Berry & Beaujolais Summer Drink

Perhaps this Saturday night would be made better by a "Berry & Beaujolais summer drink."  For sipping in a shady corner, while watching the shadows of the leaves dance around on the wall. 

half a glass of beaujolais wine
a few spoonfuls of strawberry/beaujolais compote (or other soft berry compote)
half a glass of sparkling water

A drink to make the day after the Black Pepper Cheesecake with Strawberry/Beaujolais Compote in the book, or to approximate at other times with other ingredients. This could easily be done throughout the later summer with currants, raspberries, marionberries, or blackberries. 

Spoon a couple of strawberries (or other fruit) into the bottom of a glass, with a few more spoonfuls of jammy compote. Fill the glass half with beaujolais, then the other half with sparkling water. Stir, let mingle for a second, and enjoy.