Recipes from food stylist Nicolas Ghirlando: Fish fingers to Friday nights.

Strawberry, white chocolate and basil summer sponge

With only a minute to spare, we burst through the doors of the seventeenth century formal rooms into the wedding of an old friend. Maya, freshly pressed in her brand new dress still smelled faintly of sick. She had parted company with her breakfast just as we entered Richmond park (its roads lined with wooden spikes –possibly for the heads of drivers who tried to stop ANYWHERE– and no laybys) in a queue of cars and what appeared to be a lost peloton from the Tour de France. Finding a children’s clothes shop with ten minutes to go before the ceremony was like Challenge Anneka. (An eighties tv show, for those of you who didn’t have my childhood).

I was returning to an almost normal heart rate. The petrol situation in the car would have to be dealt with later. The light had come on just as we left the house. Every mile to the venue was like driving with the sword of Damocles swinging above us; but we were there at least.

The last wedding we went to, two or three years ago involved me screeching up to the steps of Brighton town hall kicking Bee and Maya out of the car, wheel-spinning off to find somewhere to park with Noah having a meltdown in the back because he didn’t get to go with mummy and was stuck with purple-faced daddy. I hope no-one else I know gets married again. It’s too stressful.

And this leads me to another marriage which is far easier to prepare, less stressful to get to and, with hope, doesn’t involve being sick. Strawberries, white chocolate and basil go so well together, and this flan is so simple to make. It looks far more impressive than the amount of work it takes to make so is perfect for a summer weekend tea-time treat and the children loved it.

Ingredients
2 eggs
55g golden caster sugar
55g strong flour
Seeds from a vanilla pod
Strawberries, as many as fit on the base, about a punnet’s worth, depending on their size
A fig or two, quartered
1 plum, quartered
White chocolate shavings
2tbsp pistachios, chopped
Some basil leaves to finish
1tbsp atomised strawberries (freeze-dried and optional)
For the glaze
2tbsp raspberry jam
1tbsp honey
2tsp water

Method
Heat the oven to 190c and butter a 18cm flan tin
Whisk the eggs, vanilla and sugar in a bowl over a pan of simmering water until light and airy then remove from the heat and gently fold in the flour.
Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, until golden and springy.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Top with the fruit and nuts, cover with the glaze then add the basil, dried strawberries and chocolate leaves and serve.

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