Come mid-December, the variety of fruit on offer seems to reduce to not much more than citrus. But that's no problem; these winter fruits are beautiful in both appearance and taste. Quinces, too, provide a succulent cold-weather treat. Apart from blood oranges, most citrus fruits need to be cooked to bring out their palatability and flavour and can be roasted whole, as shown on the previous page. The three recipes here are very easy to make and will add a sense of warmth to almost any meal when it's chilly outside.
Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627, www.petershamnurseries.com
I first had this in my native Australia, where it's a firm favourite. Don't be daunted – it's easy and quick to make, and when it's ready, you'll have a golden-sponge topping hiding a beautifully oozing creamy sauce. It's simplicity itself for a dinner party – prepare it beforehand and slip it into the oven as everyone starts their main course.
60g/21/2oz unsalted butter
275g/9oz caster sugar
3 eggs, separated
3 tbsp self-raising flour
275ml/9fl oz milk
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4 and butter a one-litre ovenproof dish. Zest one of the lemons and juice them both. In a food processor, cream the butter with the lemon juice and sugar, then add the egg yolks. Add the flour and milk alternately to make a smooth batter. Scrape all the mixture from the sides of the food processor into a bowl. Add the lemon zest and stir well to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then fold into the batter. Pour the lemon pudding into the prepared dish and place in a roasting tin. Pour boiling water into the roasting tin: it should come halfway up the side of the dish. Place on the middle shelf of the hot oven and bake for one hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve with double cream.
This is a nice simple dessert. The short quince season will soon come to an end, so it is lovely to enjoy them now.
2 fresh bay leaves
The peel of one unwaxed lemon
1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthwise
1tbsp crème fraîche
Heat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas2. Rinse and wipe the quinces clean. Quarter them lengthways but don't bother to remove the pith or core. Place the quarters (cut-side up) in a baking tray, sprinkle over the sugar, the bay leaves, lemon peel and vanilla, and add the verjuice.
Cover lightly with foil and bake for two-and-a-half hours, turning the fruit a couple of times during cooking. When the quinces are soft, sticky and a beautiful burnt-orange colour, they are ready. I like to serve these still warm, with a large dollop of good-quality crème fraîche.
Blood oranges with warm honey and rosemary
This is one of my favourite dishes with which to end a meal: perfectly ripe blood oranges drizzled with a little honey and a scattering of dried chillies and rosemary.
6 blood oranges
130ml/4fl oz fragrant honey, such as acacia
3 tbsp water
3-4 rosemary stems, plus extra sprigs to finish
1 small dried chilli, deseeded and very finely sliced (optional)
With a sharp knife, slice off both ends of the oranges and stand upright on a board. Running the knife from top to bottom, cut away the peel and pith, following the fruit's contour. Now slice the oranges across into pin wheels – I usually get five slices from each orange. Set aside and warm the honey.
Put the honey and water into a small saucepan. Lay the rosemary on a chopping board and, using a rolling pin, gently pound the stalk and leaves to bruise them and release the flavour. Add the rosemary to the pan and place over a very low heat. Allow the honey to warm through very gently for a few minutes, stirring from time to time; don't let the mixture boil. Take off the heat and set aside to infuse for 10 minutes, then take out the rosemary.
To serve, arrange the orange pinwheels on individual plates. Sprinkle with the dried chilli if using, and spoon over the infused honey. Scatter over a few fresh rosemary sprigs and serve.