Pomegranate,the true forbidden fruit

Breaking into a pomegranate requires serious strategy. There are approximately a million seeds in there, waiting to break free and adorn your new white t-shirt. But biting into the sweet, tart, juicy seeds hiding in that complicated mess of a shell make it all worthwhile. Wine red in colour,bursting at the seams (thats when you pick them) and flavoured like a strong cocktail, pomegranates (Punica granatum) conjure up our hedonistic desires. The fruit is featured in as many, or more, Greek myths than both olive branches and grape leaves. Based on the historical geography of the Middle East where the Garden of Eden is presumed to have been located, some scholars believe that pomegranates were more likely the forbidden fruit that tempted Adam and Eve,not apples. Ever since, the red orbs and their fleshy, kernel-like seeds have been the muse of history’s great artists, from Botticelli to Picasso. This is the time of year that gives you the chance to try a host of sweet things that you wouldn't at any other time.These are a great and much lighter alternative to Christmas pudding and look festive too.
Aromatic pomegranate jelly SERVES 4
pomegranate juice 700ml
orange peel 4 long strips
lemon peel 2 long strips
6 thin slices of fresh ginger 
green cardamom pods 12
caster sugar 2 tbsp
leaf gelatine12g (7 leaves approx)
sliced oranges or clementines and a few pomegranate seeds to serve
Pour the pomegranate juice into a pan. Add 4 long strips of orange peel and 2 of lemon to the juice. Crack the cardamom pods open with a pestle and mortar or other heavy weight then add the pods and seeds to the juice. Bring the juice almost to the boil. Stir in the sugar and let it dissolve. Switch off the heat and leave for 10 minutes for the spices and peel to flavour the juice.Soak the gelatine sheets in a bowl of slightly warm water. When they have softened to a squidgy mass – a matter of a minute or two – drop the gelatine into the warm juice and stir gently.Pour the juice through a small sieve to remove the spices and fruit, and ladle into four glasses or moulds. Leave to cool then refrigerate overnight.Serve with slices of peeled orange and a few pomegranate seeds.
Vanilla and yoghurt panna cotta with pomegranate jelly
makes 5 ramekins or small glass tumblers
For the panna cotta layer 
3 gelatine leaves 
100ml/3½fl oz double cream 
100ml/3½fl oz full-fat milk 
100g/3½oz caster sugar 
1 vanilla pod, seeds only 
300g/10½oz Greek yoghurt
Jelly as above

For the panna cotta, put the gelatine in a bowl of cold water and leave to soak for five minutes.
Place the double cream, milk, sugar and vanilla seeds into a small pan and heat though gently, just enough for the sugar to dissolve, stirring from time to time.
Meanwhile, put the yoghurt in a large jug, stirring to loosen it up and set aside. Remove the creamy mixture from the heat once ready.
The gelatine should be soft by now, so lift it out of the water and squeeze the excess water out. Drop the gelatine into the creamy mixture and stir until dissolved. Leave to cool to body temperature for about 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare your glasses. You will need 6 x 200ml/7fl oz  glasses for serving.Set them on a large tray or trays that will easily fit in the fridge.
Once cool, pour the creamy mixture over the yoghurt and then gently whisk everything together.
Carefully pour the mixture into the six glasses, dividing it evenly, without allowing any to spill out. Carefully place the tray in the fridge and leave to set for 1-2 hours, or until nice and firm. To start the setting process off quickly, you can always put them in the freezer for 20 minutes or so before popping them in the fridge to finish setting.
Meanwhile, for the jelly layer,follow the recipe above making sure it is really cool so as to not melt the panna cotta on impact.
Remove the set panna cottas from the fridge and pour the cool jelly over each one, dividing it evenly. Return the glasses back to the fridge for about two hours, or until the jelly is set firm.
When you are ready to serve, top each panna cotta with pomegranate seeds and sit on a serving plate with a small spoon. These will keep for a few days in the fridge.


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