There's a story about this dessert, but it may end up being one of those 'you had to be there' ones, so please bear with me.
While we were at my parents' for half term, I took a step back and quietly observed mum in the kitchen - or, more accurately, pondered how she was catering for us. You see, I am acutely aware that I am turning into my mother in many ways, and I wondered if I could learn something by observing the 'future' me (as it were).
We started the stay with chicken fajitas (she knows how much the kids love them). Then a pheasant casserole from the freezer. It didn't go unnoticed (by me) that she uses the same evasive answering of difficult food related questions from the children as I do - I have clearly been taught by a master. She managed to answer 2 or 3 questions about the casserole without actually telling them that there was pheasant in it. There were a couple of Good Food recipes thrown in - a rather interesting beetroot & caramelised onion tart with a carrot and oat pastry/crust which was actually fine, although we all agreed it could have done with some cheese grated on top, and a delicious Pot Roast Beef with onion gravy.
There are a couple of days I can't remember what we had, but my story really starts with a Clare MacDonald smoked haddock souffle thing that was supper one evening. I had grave doubts that the children would like it - Pink is funny with smoked fish (although if it's salmon she's happy) and Blue doesn't do milky eggy savoury stuff (he hates macaroni cheese, cauli cheese all that sort of thing) - but I was pretty happy with the idea. It included bread cubes in the bottom of the dish too, and this had all been pre-frozen. It was a disaster - we all agreed (although not in front of the children!) and as they tried hard not to turn their noses up at it, mum and I had a fit of hastily suppressed giggles. Some you win some you lose, eh, Mum! Before now, I wouldn't have had a bad word to say about Clare Macdonald. I don't own any of her books, but I have plenty of copied down recipes, and the promise of a book for my birthday. It won't put me off, but I won't be rushing to make this one.
Before supper, though, I decided to intervene and make sure there was something the kids would eat - a baked potato or something. Not instead of the souffle, you understand but to go alongside it. As I was doing this, I noticed the pudding mum was planning to make. Another Good Food - chocolate pear crisp. Now, I couldn't do much about the haddock souffle, but I could do something about the pudding. You see, I made this myself a few months back, same recipe, and there was simply not enough topping. One egg white to stretch to 4 ramekins? Well, not in my kitchen it didn't. So with my tale of dessert disaster in mind, she doubled up the topping and it was a big hit. Well, all except for Pink who though it was too chocolatey, but she has some strange ideas about things like that.
Back home, and I decided to use the Pear Crisp idea and turn it into something completely different. A friend who is emigrating shortly donated me the frozen rhubarb and raspberries out of her freezer, so I decided to do this with some of the raspberries, topping them with an almondy, lemony topping and baking in the oven.
Raspberry & Lemon Crisp
approx 240g raspberries (defrosted if frozen), divided between 4 ramekins
2 large egg whites
100g icing sugar
50g ground almonds
zest of a lemon
handful of flaked almonds, for sprinkling
Pre-heat the oven to 160C/140 fan
Whisk the egg white to stiff peaks
Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, and stir in the ground almonds and lemon zest, then fold this through the egg whites. Spoon the egg white mixture onto the raspberries and give the ramekins a couple of taps to get the mixture to settle properly. Sprinkle over the flaked almonds.
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes till risen and golden. Leave to cool before serving warm or cold.
The reason why mine weren't quite crisp was because time was marching on and we were desperate to get the kids in bed. I think that leaving them to cool allows the topping to harden up making them crispy on top. Still, they were pretty good as they were, if a little hot!
By the way, it's my mum's birthday today, so - Happy Birthday Mum! This one's for you!