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What to do with blackberries and cream? Simple: bramble, fool.

September 15, 2010

We had a house full of friends at the weekend for our annual September partridge shoot. Red-legged partridges are lovely little birds, a little smaller than a chicken, neat and pretty with beautiful plumage.

They are also absolutely delicious, sadly for them. Still, a partridge on the hill has a better life than a supermarket chicken, so I eat them with a clear conscience. Our partridges are raised on the highland part of the estate, up on the heather. You can see some of the guns and beaters on the hill in this photo, but no partridges – they fly far too fast to be caught on my camera.

These hills are right on the Highland Line, the natural geological boundary that divides Scotland’s thin-soiled, sparsely wooded highlands from the fertile lowlands. Turning my back on the hill, I could see miles across the rolling farmland to the south-east.

After half an hour or so, though, I had to head back home to light the fire and get the kettle on for tea, in anticipation of the hungry hunters’ return. A weekend like this is very sociable, but also a lot of hard work: I spent far more time cooking, washing up, re-laying tables and so on than actually enjoying the company of my guests, even with their kind help. At least, that’s what it felt like. I suppose these sort of old-fashioned house parties hark back to the days when a castle had more servants than guests. These days, we try to do it all ourselves and consequently can feel spread a bit too thin sometimes.

However, the bonus of a house party is…wait for it…LEFTOVERS. The fridge and larder are stuffed full of the sort of indulgent food I make only for a dinner party: rich venison stew, chocolate roulade, summer pudding, cheeses of all varieties and lots and lots of cream. On top of all that, there is still plenty of garden produce demanding attention. My husband is doing a sterling job of eating up the remaining cheese and puddings; I have frozen the leftover stew and made the uneaten cooked garden peas into a lovely thick, green soup; but I still had a huge pot of double cream to deal with before it went off, plus a large punnet of blackberries and blueberries from the garden. How to deal with both without wastage? Simple: bramble fool.

This is too simple to be called a recipe, but for anyone in need of easy inspiration for blackberries, here’s what I did:

1. Wash the blackberries and blueberries and tip them into a saucepan. You don’t need to trim off the stalks as you’ll be sieving them out later. Sprinkle them generously with sugar and set them to simmer gently until the fruit is soft but not pulpy. I gave them an hour in the low Aga oven.

2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whip the cream until it’s thick. Good exercise for the arm muscles!

3. When the fruit is cooked and cooled, sieve it into a bowl, mashing the pulp with a wooden spoon.

4. Gradually stir the fruit puree into the bowl of cream, and spoon the mixture into a serving bowl.

5. Erm, that’s it. Not exactly a gourmet cook, am I? But it is very tasty (if you like dairy, obviously) and of course the brambles and blueberries are terribly good for you, so we can forget about the artery-clogging properties of the double cream, can’t we. For an even more calorific experience, it would be good served with shortbread or lemon langues du chat. Which I would buy, as life’s too short to faff about making biscuits. Anyway, I have wrapped up the fool and put it in the freezer – for the next dinner party, maybe. Bargain!

10 Comments leave one →
  1. September 15, 2010 9:04 pm

    had partridge on Sunday for supper – delicious and my favourite game bird! Are the brambles domesticated or wild? Haven’t had a chance to visit my favourite brambling spot yet!

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      September 15, 2010 10:22 pm

      My favourite too! These are domesticated brambles, although they are doing their best to break out of the kitchen garden and go native. I haven’t seen any ripe ones in the wild yet, though the elderberries are ripening so the brambles must be nearly there too.

  2. September 15, 2010 10:06 pm

    That looks yummy! Our blackberry season is over, it’s now apple picking time. Planning to make some apple crisp tonight, topped with whipped cream. Your pictures of the hills look so inviting. I’m working away, planning my trip to Scotland next year. Still don’t have our itinerary set yet. There are too many places to see and things to do!

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      September 15, 2010 10:28 pm

      I can’t wait for our apples to ripen so that I can make home-grown blackberry and apple crumble, an absolute classic of British cookery.

      What fun, planning your trip. Make sure you go to the west Highlands – Argyll (e.g. Mull and Iona) or Eilean Donan Castle and Skye, for example. Too many visitors come to Edinburgh and never get much further, missing all the really spectacular places. For a smalll country, there’s a lot to see, as you say!

  3. September 15, 2010 11:18 pm

    Bramble fool I’d love! The partridge are beautiful birds and that view, wonderful!

  4. Wendy permalink
    September 15, 2010 11:40 pm

    Looks yum – and so easy to make! Great to have one on hand in the freezer too.
    What a gorgeous view – and I’m sure you could have done with a few servants on hand to help out over your busy weekend. Sounds like fun though.

  5. September 16, 2010 11:22 am

    Oh, Dancing Beastie!

    Thank you for being back in my blog, I lost your address when my computer broke down…..

    I love that you saw my mousemat, it’s the best I ever had. And I did buy it when being on Islay to visit the destilleries on the island. We did love it there as the rest of what we’ve seen of Scotland!

    So we might be back some day!

    And now I am back reading you lovely blog again! It will be a pleasure!


    • dancingbeastie permalink
      September 16, 2010 2:46 pm

      Very nice to have you back, Agneta!

  6. September 17, 2010 12:44 am

    Ooh Ooh Ooh!!!! yummy! i must be sparing with the whipped cream as I’m allergic to most dairyu products – now and then but not often. So I have been having stewed blueberries over this and that – store bought pound cake is delicious with any mushed up fruit!!! But then ordinary whi9te cake and of course pancakes is too. The partridge sounds delicious, too.

  7. September 19, 2010 9:56 am

    What a lovely post. Blackberries have got to be one of the best things in the world.

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