Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Almond Bostock with Roasted Greengages

Well folks, life is certainly rather busy these days… and guess what…? I LOVE IT. I am getting the opportunity to do the thing that I love most doing which is writing about food, food producers, Irish restaurants and all things food related.
 
Now, whilst all of this seems like great fun – and there is no denying that it is – I find that I seem to spend my life dashing from one place to the other or else holed up in front of my laptop trying to catch up on all the writing that I have to do! However, I have learnt one very important thing… when you are doing what you love, it never seems like hard work.
 
The great thing about eating in so many great restaurants and meeting people who are so passionate about producing good food is that I find it really inspiring in terms of the food that I want to cook at home in my own kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I am necessarily trying to replicate the dishes that I eat when I’m out and about eating in restaurants and chatting to food producers; it’s more that I borrow flavour/ingredient combinations and ideas that I am exposed to and try them out at home.
 
Quite often the lesson to be learnt is that ‘less is definitely more’ and that you don’t need to over-complicate matters. I think that key to this is buying the best and freshest ingredients that you can afford and use them in a way that celebrates the particular characteristics of that ingredient.
 
There’s no doubting that August is a bountiful month; there are so many fruits and vegetables in season and loads of different things for the enthusiastic and adventurous cook to use.
 
Greengages are in season at the moment and whilst they can be a little difficult to source, I would urge you to snap them up if you come across them. A variety of plum, they possess a honey like sweetness which is heavenly and which I find, is intensified by being treated simply. Here I have simple roasted them and served them as an accompaniment to the Almond Bostock.
 
Anyone who regularly reads my musings here will know that I have a little bit of a sweet tooth but that I also love dishes that are quick and easy to prepare. The following recipe is one that satisfies both those criteria and produces a dish that I promise you will find yourself returning to time after time.
 
Almond Bostock is essentially syrup soaked stale bread topped with frangipane which is then baked. I have carried out loads of research but have been unable to find and information on why it so-called but really it doesn’t matter because it tastes amazing and for anyone who loves anything containing almonds it is a sure-fire winner.
 
This would make a lovely brunch dish especially when you want something sweet to eat with a cup of strong coffee but really it’s a treat that could be enjoyed at any time of the day. The frangipane and syrup can be made the day before and stored in the fridge overnight and the dish can be quickly assembled and baked the following day. Absolutely DELICIOUS!
 

Ingredients:

Roasted greengages:
9 greengages halved and stoned
1tblsp of caster sugar
Almond Bostock:
6 slices of slightly stale brioche
50g flaked almonds
Syrup:
50g caster sugar
50ml water
1tsp orange flower water
Frangipane:
90g butter, softened
90g caster sugar
90g ground almonds
1 medium egg
To finish:
A little icing sugar for dusting
 

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180C/Fan oven 160C/Gas Mark 4. Lay the brioche slices out on a large baking tray lined with non-stick baking parchment and set aside.
Roasted greengages:
2. Place the halved greengages cut-side up in a roasting tray, placing them so that they sit side-by-side in one layer. Sprinkle the caster sugar over the greengages and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes until slightly softened and beginning to caramelise at the edges. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.
Syrup:
3. Place the caster sugar and water in a small saucepan over a moderate heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring up to simmering point. Allow to bubble away for 3 minutes and the remove from the heat. Sir in the orange flower water. Set aside to cool a little while you make the frangipane.
Frangipane:
4. Place the butter and caster sugar in a medium sized mixing bowl and using a hand-held electric mixer beat together until light and fluffy. Add the ground almonds and mix again until they are fully incorporated. Finally mix in the egg to create a soft paste.
To finish:
5. Brush the top of each slice of brioche with some of the syrup (you can be quite generous with the amount you brush but don’t drench the bread totally).
6. Spread some of the frangipane over each slice of syrup soaked brioche so that it covers the entire top surface of the bread. Scatter the flaked almonds over the frangipane and bake in the pre-heated oven for approximately 20 minutes until the frangipane is golden brown and has set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving lightly dusted with icing sugar and accompanied by 2 or 3 of the roasted greengages. Some lightly whipped cream would not go astray.
 
Serves 6.