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How to Glisten Lubriciously

Summer Fruit Salad
with Cherries, Figs and Cointreau
Photo: John Corbett

How to Glisten Lubriciously

Times and products may change, but attractive recipes carry on.

BY JOHN CORBETT. Curaçao. Now there’s a name to conjure with. It will probably only be familiar now to readers of a certain age because the world has changed - and the teaching of geography in schools is also largely not what it used to be. Curaçao, to make things plain, is the name of a 444-square-kilometre island just off the coast of Venezuela. It's a Dutch possession, one of several administered by the Netherlands in the Caribbean.

Curaçao used to be reasonably well known to New Zealanders as a port of call for ships of the Netherland Line bringing European immigrants to Australasia in the 1950s and 1960s. With the advent of mass air travel, the Netherland ships were sold to the Italian line, Flotta Lauro (remember them?), which subsequently became part of P&O Nedloyd, and then in the fullness of time, Maersk.

The other dimension to Curaçao is that it's the name - and home - of a wonderfully aromatic clear citrus liqueur made from the peels of Laraha, a bitter native orange derived from Valencia oranges introduced to the island by the Spanish in the 15th century. The drink has a number of colourful variants, including blue, but the one I used to buy was Orange Curaçao.

I say used to buy, because Orange Curaçao appears to be no longer distributed in New Zealand. A maker of the liqueur remains on the island itself, but Stock, the brand I used to use in making the indulgent fruit salad recipe below, discontinued production some time ago. (That must have come as a shock to the denizens of the Vatican who are no slouches in the area of good food and beverages. Stock was a former official supplier to the Holy See.)

Never mind. Times and products may change, but attractive recipes carry on. I've adapted by replacing Orange Curaçao with Cointreau (you could also use Bénédictine but I think the clearer, sharper taste of Cointreau is better.) As a special-occasion offering, this summer dish looks as good as it tastes. The rich hues of the cherries and figs contrast handsomely with the orange segments and the whole is enhanced by a seductive glaze of sugary juices and liqueur. Nigella would probably say that it glistens lubriciously. Serve it with clouds of whipped cream.

Summer Fruit Salad with Cherries, Figs and Cointreau
Serves 4-6

1 cup ripe cherries
1 cup sliced, dried figs
2 oranges, peeled and segmented
1 cup ripe black eating grapes.
Juice of two oranges
Icing sugar
Cointreau or Grand Marnier (I prefer Cointreau)
Cream for whipping

Wash and dry the cherries and grapes. Slice the figs, but not too finely. Segment the two oranges. Keep the other two oranges aside for juice.

Place the cherries, grapes and orange segments in a large mixing bowl. Squeeze the juice of the two oranges over the fruit. Dust the fruit with icing sugar, using a sieve so there are no lumps. Add a good slosh of Cointreau.

Mix the fruit gently so it is well coated with the icing sugar, juice and Cointreau. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and refrigerate for at least two hours – overnight is even better. Before serving, taste and add extra Cointreau or icing sugar if desired. Stir again gently to coat.

If you wish, transfer the fruit salad into a serving bowl or into individual coupes. Serve with a bowl of thick whipped cream.

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