While building work proceeds at La Rectoria, a crust still has to be earned and bread put on the table.  Visits are mainly confined to weekends and what with family commitments the start and end of the week seem to melt and merge together.  Not complaining, but this fairly frenetic timetable leaves little time for me to keep my hand in, in the kitchen.  Thus the Christmas break provided time and an opportunity for playing chef.

One dish I put together was an iced parfait.  Let’s call it ‘Parfait de mores de la Vall d’Hosteles amb el meu licor de mores’ – Bramble parfait infused with homemade bramble brandy.

The recipe:

300g brambles

125g sugar

300g ml double cream

50 ml bramble brandy

Pâte à bombe  mix – 150g sugar, 100ml water and 5 egg yolks

2 egg whites

 Place the brambles in a pan with 25g of sugar and cook over a gentle heat until the sugar has dissolved and the brambles are soft.  Set aside to cool. 

For the pâte à bombe, put 150g of sugar into a pan along with 100ml of water and heat gently until dissolved.  Then increase the heat and place a sugar thermometer in the pan.  Now whisk 5 egg yolks in a bowl until pale, thick and creamy.  When the syrup reaches 120°c  add this to the egg yolks in a slow steady stream whilst continuing to beat them rapidly until the mixture is thick and cream coloured.   Then fold the cool brambles and juices into the bombe mix. 

In another bowl whisk the egg whites until lightly stiff. To this add the remaining 100g of sugar and whisk until firm and glossy.  At this stage add a few drops of vinegar and then fold the meringue mix into the bombe mixture. 

If two bowls were not enough, take a third and whip the cream until it begins to thicken and fold this gently into the bombe and meringue mix.  Pour the finished mix into a 1 litre mould and freeze. 

I served the parfait along with some lightly poached brambles, strawberry coulis and an almond and poppy seed tuile.  Wait until we harvest some brambles this coming autumn and you will be able to sample this dish during your stay with us at La Rectoria.  Bon profit.