English Strawberries and Cream three ways

English Strawberries

English Strawberries and cream three ways

Strawberries, the symbol of summer, of sunshine and a carefree spirit.  The quintessential English summer conjures images of elegant ladies in cool attire while men ‘pink’ in blazers; of champagne and laughter,  riverside picnics, and race going . And the mere idea of a bowl of fresh strawberries and cream is enough to evoke an auditory response, ‘bop, bop…..out!..’, of the ball being lobbed over the nets at Wimbledon. 

Strawberries these days are with us virtually all year, flown in from around the world. Some are fragrant and delicious but others disappoint. They need sun to fulfil their promise and personally I am happy to wait until June 1st before buying my first strawberries of the year.

To wash or not to wash? That’s a personal choice, if you prefer to wash your fruit before preparing,  or need to because of mud splatter then make sure you rinse them quickly under cold running water and before you hull them.   Make sure you dry them well or the remaining water will turn the fruit soggy,  and some argue that washing detracts flavour.

I like to store strawberries at cool room temperature, a larder is great if you have one. But do make sure to remove any that are going over or the whole lot will ruin very quickly. A fly net is a good precaution against pesky fruit flies.  If you need to store them in the fridge Jane Grigson (Fruit Book, Penguin Books, 1982) suggested sprinkling them with sugar and wrapping the bowl in cling film. She advocated that this prevents the strawberry smell from dominating the fridge. It also prevents the strawberries from drying out and spoiling, however you are left with sugar coated strawberries which limits what you can do with them. If I need to store them in the fridge I pop them into a clean bowl, large enough to prevent the bottom ones being crushed, and simply cover them with cling film.  Always serve fresh strawberries at room temperature and if you can pop them in a sunny spot for an hour before eating.

Here are a three ideas for serving summer strawberries and cream:

Strawberries in a rose scented coulis served with a cream cheese and rose Chantilly.

_MG_7543

Ingredients:

600g hulled fresh strawberries

1 tablespoon  Framboise

½ tbs rose water – optional

1-2 tablespoons of icing sugar

a pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Roughly chop 200g of the  strawberries and put into a jug or the bowl of a liquidizer, measure in the Framboise, the rose water and add in the icing sugar and a pinch of pepper. Blitz to blend.

Strawberries ready for blitzing

Put a third of the strawberries into a jug or blender along with the icing sugar, Framboise, the rose water and a pinch of black pepper.

Halve or quarter the remaining 400g of strawberries depending on their size and put  into a serving dish. Pour over the puree and gently mix to combine.

You can refrigerate until required but do serve at room temperature as this allow the flavours to develop.

Cream cheese and rose Chantilly:

100g cream cheese (I like full fat Philadelphia best)

250ml double cream

1-2 tablespoons caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon rose water essence

Put all of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Whisk gently to mix in the cream cheese and then a little more vigorously to thicken the cream until it is just holding its shape. Taste and adjust the sweetness and strength of the rose water flavour adding a little more and stirring gently to avoid over whipping.   Spoon into a serving bowl and chill until required.

Balsamic baked Strawberries served with a lemon curd and amoretti cream (Also fab with the orange cream).

 

Balsamic baked Strawberries served with lemon amoretti cream

Balsamic baked Strawberries served with lemon amoretti cream

Balsamic Baked Strawberries with an Orange cream

Balsamic Baked Strawberries with an Orange cream

serves 4

800g fresh, even sized hulled strawberries

4 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons icing sugar

preheat the oven to 200c

Put the strawberries into an oven proof dish and sprinkle with icing sugar and drizzle over the balsamic vinegar.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the balsamic vinegar is bubbling and the sauce is syrupy.

Remove the dish from the oven and allow the strawberries to cool to room temperature.

Serve with orange scented Chantilly cream.

 Lemon Curd and Amoretti Cream:

50g crisp ratafia or crisp amoretti biscuits

150 ml double cream

100ml Greek yogurt

50ml good quality zingy lemon curd

Put the ratafia or amoretti biscuits into a plastic bag and whack them with the back of a wooden spoon to crush into pieces (careful though, you don’t want to bash them to dust!).

Pour the cream into a large mixing bowl and whisk gently until it starts to thicken. Take care not to over whip at this stage as the cream thickens very quickly when you add the rest of the ingredients.

Add the yoghurt and the lemon curd and fold into the cream with a large spoon. Tip in the crushed biscuits and fold them in.  The cream should be the consistency of whipped cream and drop from the spoon.

Spoon the cream into a serving dish and chill until required.

 

Fresh Strawberries is Strawberry Essence with an Orange Cream

A few years back the Stirring Stuff, the Henley cookery School as it was then had a foodie excursion to  Paris. One of the venues that we had researched was then a  bold new restaurant – Spring. A one man band with a set menu , all ingredients bought fresh from the markets of Paris that day. The  aim of Spring was to reveal the very essence of the ingredient; no froths, foams or gimmicks, just fresh ingredients perfectly cooked.  We had a glorious evening and the recipe below is my recreation of the dessert that we ate that night.  I hope you will agree that in its simplicity and elegance the very soul of the strawberry is revealed.

Sliced Strawberries in a Strawberry essence, served here with orange cream.

Sliced Strawberries in a Strawberry essence, served here with orange cream.

Strawberries in Strawberry Essence

Serves 4

800g fragrant ripe strawberries

40g caster sugar

3-4 mint leaves, finely sliced

Preheat the oven to gas 2/150c

Take half of the strawberries, hull and dice finely. Place in a shallow oven proof dish and sprinkle over the sugar. Cover the dish with foil and place in the oven for about an hour or until the strawberry juices run freely. Do not be tempted to stir  or the soft strawberries will break into the juice and we are after a clear consommé.

Gently tip the cooked strawberries into a sieve placed over a clean bowl or jug and simply allow the liquid to run through – no pressing with a wooden spoon or the nectar will cloud. Cool the juice (you should have about 150mls).

Hull the remaining strawberries and cut into quarters and put them into a serving dish. Pour over the clear strawberry liquid.

 Orange Cream

1-2 tablespoons icing sugar

zest of 1 medium orange and the juice of half

300ml double cream, well chilled

Put the icing sugar, the zest and the juice of the orange into a large mixing bowl. Pour in the chilled cream. Whisk gently until the cream begins to thicken and then a little more vigorously until it forms soft peaks. Taste and adjust the sweetness to your liking. spoon into a serving dish and chill until required.

And…..Wow factor summer fruit tarts!

Use the creams to make individual summer fruit tarts for special occasion teas and picnics.

Melt 100g of dark cholate and use this to paint the insides of  cooked pastry tart cases of your choice.  When the chocolate is cooled and set fill with the cream or creams of your choice. I like to serve a selection of different flavours.

Chocolate coated tartlet cases filled with cream

Melt dark chocolate and paint the insides of the cooked tartlet cases. When it is cooled and set fill with the cream of your choice

Top the cream filling with fresh summer fruits. Glaze with red currant Jelly (see below).

ummer fruit tartlets: Top the cream with fresh summer fruits

Top the cream with fresh summer fruits

Red currant Jelly glaze:

Put one pot of red currant jelly into a saucepan add the juice of one lemon. heat gently stirring gently until the jelly is melted and transparent.  Remove from the heat and cool the jelly slightly. Brush the fruit with the jelly. This not only add flavour to the finished tartlets, it add a beautiful sheen and sticks the fruit to the cream and tart case making them easier to eat and transport.

 

 

 

 

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