Perhaps because it implies more involvement with the food board universe than she has, my wife has disavowed the moniker, Condiment Queen. She's a luker she'll say. Condiment Queen is not a poster, not a nom de Internet. Still, as I explained long ago, it represents a certain improvisational style of cooking of hers. A style put to good use to address a daughter's birthday wish.
This story starts either at Target or with a box of gooseberries. I'll start with the gooseberries, that's a bit longer. I cannot resist buying things like local gooseberries. Gooseberries, as represented by Phil Smidt's pie, were a traditional fruit of the region, one now overshadowed by peaches, raspberries and blueberries. That and twin devils of ultra-tartness and tops and tails. A few local farmers fill the odd request. A worthwhile request as the puckishness is matched by a complex muskiness, like a good grape. Gooseberries are worth using. And if not in pie, then in the classic Joy of Cooking, gooseberry fool. An English fool is a fruit puree mixed with custard. Cook the gooseberries and run through a strainer. Voila, no need to pick off all those twiggy things on the berries. Us Yanks simplify things further, the puree folded into sweetened whipped cream. We had our gooseberry fool a few weeks ago.
Target, that goes back to about four years, a four year birthday. Given her choice of a birthday dinner, daughter number 1 picked target. What could be finer than a Target hot dog and a side of popcorn. The lesson: one gets what they want on their birthday no matter how bizarre. Fast forward nine or so years. What does one want? Carrot fool.
If you could make a fool from gooseberries (and sour cherries, my idea), why not with carrots. OK, I was not so keen, but the CQ took to it. She cooked down a bunch of Genesis Grower carrots in a bit of orange juice, added some honey, a bit of grated ginger and pureed. As is, it tasted not unlike an Indian dessert. Halwa, however, is not fool. In went the whipped cream. The final product was a layered glass of sour cherry fool (whipped cream, sugar, sour cherry syrup), the carrot fool, golden raspberries, and passion fruit fool (passion fruit curd from CQ's employer and whipped cream).
Fools do make an ideal summer dessert. They are both intense and light. Obviously, they match well against fruits that need balance, sour cherries or gooseberries, but as my wife and daughter surmised, there's a few other possibilities out there.