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John Quigley: Chuck berries in a bowl for perfect fruity pud; The top chef's tips for a tasty way to eat well: Summer pudding.

Byline: John Quigley

In summer, you can't beat soft, ripe fruits smothered with fresh cream for the ultimate dessert.

Plump, locally-grown strawberries and deep-scented raspberries are just the thing to get taste buds tingling.

The pick of the bunch must be raspberries and Scots fruits are among the best in the world.

The deeper red the colour, the more delicious the fruit will be.

Always choose unblemished, dark-coloured soft fruits and check them for flavour by sniffing them. Their fragrance should be obvious.

Although nothing is better than a bowl of fresh raspberries and cream, they can be cooked in pastries, tarts, syllabubs and make the finest of fools.

Other berries worth considering when available are bilberries, blueberries, red and white currants, blackcurrants, tayberries and logan-berries. I often combine three or four of these berries in summer desserts such as summer pudding, fruit salads souffles or simply crushed and folded with some sweetened cream to create a perfect pudding.

Here are some pointers for choosing the best berries: Check the bottom of the punnet to make sure it is dry. If it is stained with juice, the berries at the bottom will be past their best.

Buy fruit from a greengrocer you know won't rip you off with punnets containing squashy fruit under a few good-looking berries.

Supermarket berries often have a hole in the top of the packaging. Sniff the berries through it. If they are fragrant, they should be good to eat.

The above recipe involves very little cooking and will keep well in your fridge for two to three days.

INGREDIENTS (SERVES 6):

1lb raspberries

4oz blackcurrants

8oz red currants

5oz caster sugar

7 to 8 slices white bread

garnish with strawberryMETHOD: Remove stalks and rinse fruit. Place it with sugar in a saucepan on medium heat. Cook for three to five minutes until sugar has melted. Do not overcook. Remove and cool. Cut crusts from bread and line a 1 1 /2 pint pudding basin with slices of bread, overlapping them and sealing well by pressing edges together. Fill gaps with small pieces of bread so no juice escapes. Pour fruit mix into bread-lined dish, reserving a cupful. Cover pudding with another slice of bread, place small saucer or plate on top to weigh it down and leave in fridge overnight. Just before serving, turn pudding onto large serving dish and spoon over reserve juices to soak any bread that's still white. Slice and serve with custard, cream or ice cream.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 13, 2004
Words:415
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