Local Strawberries are in season right now and they are bursting with flavour.
I think these succulent, fragrant berries are as beautiful as they are flavourful.
When ripe, fresh strawberries contain a wonderful combination of fruity, caramel and spice flavours. When at the market, look for unblemished strawberries with bright-green hulls. Try to buy only local mallorcan strawberries where possible or buy freshly picked fruit from local farms, you'll be getting produce that's approaching the peak of ripeness in contrast to imported fruit, which is likely to have been picked early.
Strawberries are the quintessential summer treat. For better flavour, let strawberries come to room temperature before eating them: if possible, put them out to warm in the sun for a couple of hours to bring out their full taste and aroma. As with any other delicate berries, wash and handle them gently and as little as possible to avoid bruising them. Always wash strawberries before hulling them. Dip whole strawberries into melted dark chocolate and set aside until firm, then serve as a tasty canapé with Pink Champagne!
They make very harmonious matches with warm, sweet spices and many other fruits including oranges, peaches, raspberries and rhubarb. They also come to life with in the company of sugar and most diary products such as cream, yoghurt and cream cheese. For more unusual combinations try strawberries with avocado, coconut, green peppercorns or tomatoes. At Simply Fosh we serve a refreshing Strawberry and Tomato Gazpacho, and according to some scientifically minded chefs, the two ingredients share many flavour compounds and are almost interchangeable. If that’s true, try a Strawberry and mozzarella salad with basil leaves, you may never think about strawberries in the same way again.
I like to sprinkle a few drops of balsamic vinegar or a dusting of freshly ground black pepper sparingly over strawberries to enhance their flavour. Another favourite of mine is an old English classic called “Eton Mess”. There is something unashamedly wicked about this dessert. It consists of a mixture of fresh strawberries, pieces of crisp meringue and lightly whipped cream all stirred together-hence the name “mess”. The dish has been known by this name since the 19th century and was served in the 1930s in the Eton college. It should be championed for its wonderful simplicity and for the fact that it turns a right old “mess” into something so seductive.
Ingredients serves 4
3 egg whites
800g strawberries, washed & hulled
1tbsp icing sugar
In a clean, grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed. Gradually add the sugar, whisking continuously until the mixture is thick and glossy.
Place large spoonfuls of meringue and a lined baking tray. Place in the oven(140C/Gas 1) and bake for at least 2 hours. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues (preferably overnight) in the oven to crisp up.
Cut 500g of the strawberries in half and add the icing sugar. Chill for 1-2 hours.
Puree the rest in a hand blender to make a puree.
Whisk the cream until stiff peaks form.
Roughly crush the meringues into bite-sized pieces and gently mix them with the whipped cream. Add the strawberries and pile into glass bowls. Drizzle with strawberry puree and serve.
SIMPLE STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE
Ingredients serves 4
100g fresh strawberries, sliced
85g low-fat biscuits such as hobnuts or digestives
200g extra-light soft cream cheese
200g 0% fat Greek yogurt
4 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp good-quality strawberry jam
Put the biscuits in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin until you have chunky crumbs. Divide between 4 glasses or small bowls.
Beat the soft cream cheese, yogurt and sugar together until smooth, then spoon over the crumbs and chill until you are ready to serve.
Stir the jam in a bowl until loose, and then gently stir in the strawberries. Divide the strawberries between the cheesecakes. Serve garnished with mint leaves.