PHOTOS: Carrying a torch for English cuisine
Executive chef Jerome Bacle of Courtright Restaurant in Willow Springs, Ill., prepares an English summer Port Wine pudding. | Sun-Times Media
Red Port Wine and Melon Summer Pudding
(Adapted from Jerome Bacle)
½ small watermelon ½ cantaloupe ½ honeydew 1 ½ cups red port wine 3 teaspoons gelatin powder ½ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped ½ cup sugar 1 cup heavy cream
1 ½ cups red port wine
3 teaspoons gelatin powder
½ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
½ cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
Cut melons, remove seeds and scoop melon balls. Reserve in refrigerator.
Melon sauce: Scoop remaining melon, measure two cups and place in sauce pot; add all but one tablespoon of sugar and heat on medium; bring to boil and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, mix in blender; strain and refrigerate.
Pudding: Soak gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes. Boil wine in sauce pot over high heat and flame to burn the alcohol. When flame is gone, remove from heat and add chopped mint. Allow mixture to infuse for 10 minutes; add gelatin to hot wine. Whisk until dissolved; cool to room temperature. Divide melon balls into four martini glasses. Pour wine mix over melon. Refrigerate overnight.
The next day: Whisk whipping cream and remaining sugar in stainless steel bowl until thick. Refrigerate. Serve pudding topped with melon sauce and Chantilly cream.
To accelerate the setting process, cool port wine mixture in ice bath before pouring into glasses and allowing it to set for four hours.
Updated: April 12, 2013 1:26PM
It’s Olympics time, and the world is watching London — again. First, all eyes were on Will and Kate as they made their historical walk down the aisle at Westminster. Then it was the queen’s golden jubilee. Now, on the tennis shoe heels of that more steadfast English event, Wimbledon, the world’s gaze is again fixed on Londinium, as ancient Romans called her.
And as more modern day Americans turn their attention to England, they are learning about her time-honored cuisine. They’re discovering that British classics go beyond Christmas puddings and steak and kidney pies (that’s actual kidneys, not beans).
“Recent events in England have come across very well in the media; people began talking a lot about fashion, culture and tradition — and eventually, food,” said Jerome Bacle, executive chef at Courtright’s in Willow Springs.
While working in London as a chef for two years, Bacle, who lives in Oak Park now, developed an appreciation for classic English dishes, like lamb roasted with fresh mint lamb jus and bacon scones. “When these recipes are made right, they’re very tasteful, and bring a lot of good memories, too, from my time in London,” he said.
Any English table in summer will include foods like fools made with fresh cream blended with berries or stone fruits. And nothing says Great Britain more than that hearty classic, Beef Wellington.
Then there is the Eton Mess. It’s a fluffy dessert made by layering fruit, heavy whipping cream and meringue. The recipe is lightheartedly named after Prince William’s prep school, Eton College in Windsor.
But perhaps the most fitting way to celebrate the Olympics is by bringing people together around an English summer pudding, bursting at the seams with fruit. “The games are among the most exciting competitions in the world. They bring emotions of joys and tears while bringing people back together to support their country. So, after all, why not celebrate around a summer fruit pudding?” Bacle asked.
And, these puddings are remarkably versatile. They can be made with fruits or other sweets as a dessert or with savory ingredients as an appetizer.
The late Two Fat Ladies chef Jennifer Paterson famously made a summer pudding using tomatoes. Other savory foods with higher sugar content, such as corn, sweet peas or carrots also work well in an appetizer pudding.
Best yet, they’re delicious. “Summer puddings are light and refreshing,” Bacle said. He especially likes how his Port Red Wine and Melon Summer Pudding exudes the flavor of its key ingredient: mint-infused red wine. He accentuates the flavor with melons.
“I like pairing melon and red port wine, which is traditional and not unusual as an appetizer. It’s just a different way and interpretation to put them together, this time as a dessert.”
Bacle sticks less with tradition, holding his summer pudding together using gelatin rather than the more expected stuff of English puddings, bread without crust.
He’ll use white wine or Champagne to make a summer pudding to serve at Courtright’s during the Olympics. “White wine and red fruits or stones fruits are great to use as summer pudding,” Bacle said.
For her puddings and so much more, England persists as a world class culinary contender. “English chefs have taken England’s cuisine to a different level, a higher level. And it’s only the beginning,” Bacle promised.
Let the games continue!