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Recipes: Brenda Costigan on great desserts using summer fruits





Every season has its good points, but somehow summer could just have the edge! All the wonderful fruits and vegetables are in season, and most of them are available close to home.

Today's choice of desserts should make a fitting end to your summer meals. Also, if your guests are sitting in the sunshine on the patio, sipping their wine, you'll find these desserts conveniently easy to serve.

To survive the journey to Ireland and the supermarkets' methods, fruits such as peaches and nectarines are often sold quite hard. A good friend tells me that she loves to give summer fruits a heat boost by popping them in the microwave for a few seconds.

Barbecued PEACHES

Great for a barbecue, this recipe uses peaches or nectarines, or a combination of fruits, including plums, eating apples and bananas. Serves 4.

You will need:

About 700g (1lb 9oz) mixed fruit

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons sugar or honey

Tinfoil to make parcels

Few small lumps of butter

Ice cream, to serve

Cut the fruits in halves or quarters, depending on their size, and where there are stones, as in peaches, remove them, if you can do so easily. If the stones are stuck, leave them in place as the diner should be able to remove them with ease once the fruit is cooked.

Mix the ground cinnamon and the sugar or the honey, whichever you are using, through the chopped mixed fruit. Cut four large squares of tinfoil -- if you think there is a chance the tinfoil might puncture on the barbecue, then use a double thickness.

Spoon an equal amount of the fruit mixture into each of the four tinfoil parcels and top with a few small lumps of butter. Seal the tinfoil parcels with a double fold to prevent the juices from escaping, but ensure that you leave enough room inside each parcel for the steam to circulate. Bake the tinfoil parcels on the barbecue for about 15 minutes or longer. Serve with ice cream.

Poached Peaches


The best way to deal with hard peaches or nectarines is to poach them gently in syrup. Serve with a good vanilla ice cream. Serves 4.

You will need:

425ml (3/4pt) white wine or 300ml (1/2pt) water

Finely grated zest of 1/2 orange

Juice of 1 orange

1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)

1 vanilla pod

1 cinnamon stick

100g (3 1/2oz) caster sugar

4-6 peaches

Vanilla ice cream, to serve

If you're using white wine, put it into a saucepan and bring it to a rolling boil to reduce it to 300ml (?pt) -- if you are using water, there is, obviously, no need to reduce it. Add in the orange zest, the orange juice, the lemon juice, if you're using it, the vanilla pod, the cinnamon stick, the caster sugar and the peaches. Poach the peaches gently until their skin can be slipped off easily. Lift one peach out with a spoon and test to see if its skin comes off easily. Don't overcook them.

Peel the peaches, cut them in half and remove the stone. Then cut the peaches into quarters. Discard the cinnamon stick and dry out the vanilla pod, as you can reuse it. Serve with vanilla ice cream and some of the poaching juices.


If you have plenty of raspberries, the above recipe for poached peaches -- cooked without the cinnamon stick -- can be served with this classic Melba sauce.

You will need:

250g (9oz) raspberries

2 tablespoons of the poaching juices from the poached peaches (or ?-1 tablespoon each of fresh orange and fresh lemon juice)

Vanilla ice cream, to serve

Buzz the raspberries and the poaching juices, or the orange and lemon juice mixture, whichever you are using, in a food processor. Push the resulting puree through a sieve to remove the pips. Spoon the sauce over the poached peaches just before serving. Accompany with a good vanilla ice cream.


This is a tasty version of the classic peach Melba. The raspberries are mashed with a little sugar, which gives a nice coarse texture. Serves 4.

You will need:

4 fresh soft peaches, cut in half and stone removed

200g (8oz) raspberries

2 tablespoons icing sugar

4 tablespoons honey

400g (14oz) Greek yogurt

Prepare the peaches. Put the raspberries into a bowl and crush them with a wooden spoon, mixing in the icing sugar as you do so. Mix two tablespoons of the honey into the Greek yogurt. Place two peach halves on each serving plate, and spoon some of the honey and yogurt mixture generously on top. Then spoon the crushed Melba raspberries on top, and finish off by drizzling the remaining honey over the lot.


An easy-to-make orange and mint sauce, perfect for serving with summer fruits. Serves 4.

You will need:

2 teaspoons arrowroot or cornflour

Juice 4 oranges -- about 375ml (12fl oz)

3 sprigs fresh mint

2 tablespoons sugar

Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Blend the arrowroot or cornflour, whichever you are using, with a little bit of cold water. Strain the orange juice into a saucepan and add two sprigs of the mint and the sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer for a minute. Discard the cooked sprigs of mint. Pour a little of the hot liquid into the blended arrowroot or blended cornflour, whichever you are using, before adding the lot to the saucepan. Whisk in the lemon juice, bringing the mixture to a gentle boil to thicken it a little. If it's not as thick as you wish, add more blended arrowroot or cornflour as before. Take the leaves off the third sprig of mint and chop them. Add them to the sauce. Taste, adding more sugar or lemon juice as required.


These delightful fruity jellies are set in individual little ramekin dishes. Ideally, the mixture of berries (strawberry, raspberries, and so on) should include some blueberries, because they provide a delightful contrast in texture. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. Serves 4.

You will need:

1 x 135g (?lb) packet blackcurrant jelly

250ml (9fl oz) boiling water

50ml (2fl oz) ruby port

75g (3oz) fresh raspberries

110g (4oz) frozen raspberries or frozen summer berries or more fresh fruits

110g (4oz) fresh strawberries, halved or quartered if necessary

75g (3oz) blueberries

Whipped cream or ice cream, to serve

Use four ramekin dishes, large enough to hold 200ml water each, if they were filled to the top. If you plan to turn out the jellies for serving, it is important to line the ramekin dishes with cling film first, pressing it into position with a slightly damp cloth. Allow the edges of the cling film to hang down outside of the dishes. To save yourself time and trouble, serve the jelly in the ramekin dishes, then no cling film is required.

Using a measuring jug, dissolve the blackcurrant jelly in the boiling water, and then add in the ruby port. Add all the fresh and frozen fruit. There is no need to thaw the frozen fruit, as it helps the jelly to set faster. Stir the mixture gently to distribute the fruit through the mixture. The jelly should be fairly full of fruit -- add a little extra if necessary. The contents of the measuring jug should now be about 600ml (1pt). Allow the jelly and fruit mixture to partly cool and thicken slightly in the jug. This allows the fruit to stay suspended in the jelly, instead of rising to the top. Stir the mixture gently and pour it into the four individual ramekins. Put the ramekins into the fridge to chill and set.

Before turning out, gently pull the overhanging ends of the cling film to slightly loosen the jelly. Put a flat dessert plate on top of each little ramekin and invert. Lift off the ramekin and then gently peel away the cling film to reveal a neat little mound of fruit-filled jelly.

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, or the orange and mint sauce, see the recipe above.


When a recipe casually says turn out of the tin, it may seem a doddle to do so, but that is not always the case. For this recipe, what I do is this: with the cooled meringue still in its baking tin, I gently place another tin or light tray of the same size on top -- the underside of the second tin should be touching the surface of the meringue. Then, holding the two tins together, and without squashing the meringue, invert them. The meringue should now sit upside down on the underside of the second tin. This makes it relatively easy to slide the meringue gently on to a prepared sheet of baking parchment on the counter. Lift off the top tin and gently peel off the baking parchment -- which lined the tin the roulade was cooked in -- from the bottom of the roulade: Bob's your uncle!

You will need:

4 egg whites

225g (8oz) caster sugar

2 teaspoons cornflour

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

25-40g (1-1 1/2oz) flaked almonds

For the filling, you will need:

250ml (9fl oz) fresh cream, whipped

About 250g (9oz) fresh strawberries

1-3 teaspoons caster sugar

1-3 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Use a Swiss-roll tin 23cm by 32cm (9in by 13in) lined with baking parchment -- not greaseproof paper -- so the sides stand about 5cm (2in) tall, in a box-like shape. Preheat the oven to 180 C, 350 F, Gas 4. Using a very clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are fluffy -- it's vital the bowl is spotless, as even minute traces of fat will prevent the whites from becoming stiff. Start adding in the caster sugar, beating it in a tablespoon at a time until it has all been added. At this point, the mixture should be stiff enough to allow the bowl to be turned upside down without the meringue falling out. Whisk in the cornflour and the lemon juice. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and spread it out evenly. Scatter the flaked almonds over the top. Put it in the oven and reduce the heat to 140 C, 275 F, Gas 1. Bake until the top is lightly golden and the mixture feels firm. This could take 40 minutes or more.

Stand the tin on a wire tray to cool. When the meringue is cool, place another sheet of baking parchment on the counter. The parchment should be larger than the surface area of the meringue. Turn the meringue out on to the fresh sheet of baking parchment, as described in the introduction, so that the underside of the roulade faces upwards.

Spread the whipped cream over the meringue so that it just reaches the edges. Chop the strawberries, and mix them with the caster sugar and the orange juice. Spoon the fruit, in an even layer, on top of the cream. To roll up the roulade, catch the baking parchment farthest away from you. Pull it gently towards you, keeping it a low level so that the roulade curves up with the parchment and forms a roll; some cream and fruit may ooze out the sides. Also using the baking parchment, lift the rolled-up roulade on to a serving plate and position it so that the edge of the roll is underneath, and not on top. Chill for an hour or two before serving.

This roulade can be frozen, if you like, for up to a month, wrapped in foil.