Strawberry Dreams

S

We’re at the height of the strawberry season at present, all along the main roads strawberry growers are doing their best to tempt us to indulge. So let’s feast on beautiful ripe berries while they are at their best. Eco Santa is the favourite commercial variety but a few growers are beginning to offer some heritage berries, it’s not easy because many of the older more flavourful varieties produce smaller berries which take longer to pick. Time is money and there is already a serious problem to be resolved to facilitate the employment of fruit pickers who are needed on a casual basis for a short period during the berry seasons, which is also weather dependent.

So let’s support our Irish soft fruit growers, otherwise we’ll have no choice as has happened with so many other products. There are a myriad of delicious ways to serve strawberries.

 

Homemade Strawberry Gelato with Fresh Strawberry Sauce

 

Serves 6-8

2 lbs (900g) very ripe strawberries

freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon

freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 orange

8ozs (225g) castor sugar

300ml (300ml) water

150ml (5floz) whipped cream

 

Dissolve the sugar in the water; boil for 7-10 minutes, leave to cool. Purée the strawberries in a food processor or blender, sieve. Add the freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice to the cold syrup. Stir into the purée, fold in the whipped cream. Freeze immediately preferably in a sorbietere. Store in a covered plastic box in the freezer. Scoop out into balls and serve on chilled plates with sprigs of fresh mint.

 

Fresh Strawberry Sauce

400g (14 ozs) strawberries

50g (2 ozs) icing sugar

lemon juice

 

Garnish

 

 

Fresh mint leaves

 

To make the strawberry sauce, clean and hull the strawberries, add to the blender with sugar and blend. Strain, taste and add lemon juice if necessary. Pour over scoops of strawberry gelato and garnish with some fresh mint leaves.

Strawberry Tiramisu

 

Serves 10-12

150ml (5fl ozs) water

200g (7ozs) unbleached caster sugar

400g (14ozs) strawberries sliced

50ml (2fl ozs) crème de cassis or crème de framboise

4 eggs, separated

250g (9ozs) tub mascarpone cheese

1 x 200g (7ozs) packet boudoir biscuits (sponge biscuits)

50g (2ozs) flaked or slivered almonds

1 x 28cm (11 inch) gratin dish

Make syrup by dissolving half the sugar in the water, then boiling for 2 minutes. Add in the fruit. If using fresh fruit, turn off the heat and leave it to cool. If using frozen fruit, bring the syrup back to the boil and let it simmer very gently for 1-2 minutes, then leave to cool. Add the cassis or frambroise to the syrup.

Beat the egg yolks in a bowl with the remaining sugar until pale and thick. Beat in the mascarpone cheese. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whiles until they form stiff peaks. Fold them lightly into the egg and mascarpone mixture.

Strain the fruit from the syrup. Place the syrup in a wide bowl. Dip half the biscuits in the cooled syrup and use them to line the base of the gratin dish. Spread half the mascarpone mixture over, followed by half of the fruit. Cover the fruit with another layer of the biscuits dipped in the liquid. Spread over the remainder of the fruit, followed by the remaining mascarpone mixture. Cover and chill for a minimum of 6 hours, or ideally overnight, to allow the biscuits to absorb the juices and soften.

Meanwhile, toast the almonds by heating a dry frying pan, tossing in the nuts and frying for 2-3 minutes until golden. Set aside to cool. Use to sprinkle over the tiramisu just prior to serving.

Rose Gray’s Almond Tart with Strawberries

Serves 10-12

Rose Gray and Ruth Rodgers of the River Café demonstrated this tart when they were guest chefs here some years ago.

Pastry

6 ozs (170g) flour

4 ozs (110g) unsalted butter

1 oz (25g) castor sugar

2 egg yolks

 

Almond Filling

10 ozs (285g) soft butter unsalted

10 ozs (285g) castor sugar

10 ozs (285g) whole almonds

3 eggs

1 dessertspoon Amaretto or Rum

 

1 lb (450g) fresh strawberries

1 x 12 inch (30.5cm,) tart tin with ‘pop-up base

 

First make the pastry.

 

Put the flour and butter into the food processor. Whizz for a few seconds then add sugar and egg yolks, turn off the machine just as the pastry starts to form a ball. Chill for 2-1 hour.

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/regulo 4.

 

Line the flan ring and bake blind for 15 minutes. Meanwhile make the almond filling. Blanch the almonds in boiling water, remove the skins and grind in a liquidiser or food processor.

 

Whisk the butter with the sugar until soft and fluffy add the ground almonds, eggs and amaretto if available. Pour into the pastry case and reduce the oven to 160C/325F/regulo 3, and bake for approx. 40 minutes. Allow to cool, cut the strawberries in half or quarters and stud into the tart.

 

Fresh Strawberry Popsicles

Popsicles are the new cupcakes – all the rage, we used to call them ice lollies but these are not make from cordial they are made from pure strawberry puree – a revelation and lots of fun.

 

Makes (18floz) or 6 x 3floz popsicles

 

400g (14ozs) fresh strawberries

55g (2ozs) icing sugar

lemon juice

150ml (5floz) stock syrup

 

Clean and hull the strawberries, add to the liquidiser with sugar and blend. Strain, taste and add lemon juice and stock syrup.

 

Pour into 75ml (3floz) Popsicle moulds and freeze for 3 – 4 hours

Stock Syrup

Makes 28 fl ozs (825 ml)

1 lb (450 g) sugar

1 pint (600 ml) water

To make the stock syrup: Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes then allow it to cool. Store in the fridge until needed and use for homemade lemonade, fruit salads…

American Strawberry Shortcake

Serves 10

10 fresh scones

225g (8ozs) strawberries

2 teaspoons caster sugar

284ml (9 1/2 fl ozs) carton double cream

2 teaspoons icing sugar

Garnish

6-8 whole strawberries

fresh mint or strawberry leaves

icing sugar

First make the scones (recipe Irish Examiner Saturday 14th February 2009) While they are baking, prepare the strawberries by washing, hulling and cutting into quarters. Toss with the caster sugar and set aside.info@pinkginger.ie or for schedule of cookery classes visit www.pinkginger.ie www.croninspub.com

Shortly before serving, whip the cream with the icing sugar. Split the cooled scones and top the bottom half with a blob of sweetened cream and a few sugared

strawberries. Add the tops sieve a little icing sugar over and decorate with whole or halved strawberries and fresh mint or strawberry leaves.

Strawberry Fool

What could be easier or more delicious, sharpen the strawberries with a few drops of lemon juice if necessary.

1lb (450g) strawberries

55g (2oz) caster Sugar

1 tablespoon lemon Juice

55g (2oz) whipped cream or a mixture of Greek style yogurt

lady finger biscuits

Whiz the strawberries and castor sugar in a food processor or blender. Pour into a bowl, add a few drops of squeezed lemon juice, swirl in whipped cream, taste and tweak if necessary. Pour into deep glasses and serve a few lady fingers with each for dunking.

 

Eton Mess

Serves 8

Meringue x 1

Strawberry coulis (see recipe Fresh Strawberry Sauce)

450g (1lb) strawberries

450ml – 600ml (15floz – 1 pint) whipped cream

First make the coulis (fresh strawberry sauce)

To Assemble

Slice the strawberries lengthwise in 2 or 3 pieces depending on size. Add 110ml (4fl oz) of coulis and toss gently. Break the meringue into uneven chunks roughly 2.5 – 5cm (1-2 inches). Spread the meringue onto a flat dish, add the cream. Fold gently, then spoon over the strawberries – this can be such a mess if you aren’t careful. Spoon into glasses or pudding bowls or pile up on individual plates. Pour a little more strawberry coulis over the top. Enjoy immediately while the meringue is still crisp. Divine!

 

Strawberries and Cherries in Tequila

A delicious combination with a Mexican twist.

1lb (450g) strawberries

1lb (450g) cherries

55g (2oz) caster sugar or more to taste

2 fl oz Tequila

1 organic orange and juice

Slice the strawberries lengthwise, cut the cherries in half, and remove the stones sprinkle with sugar, add the rind and juice of one organic orange and a generous glug of Tequila – taste and tweak if necessary.

Fool Proof Food

Rachel Allen’s Strawberry Daiquiri

A really refreshing cocktail to have on a Summer’s evening with friends.

Serves 2-4

150ml (5fl ozs) white rum or vodka

250g (9ozs) strawberries

75ml (3fl ozs) lime juice (approximately 3 limes)

100-125ml (3 1/2 – 4 1/2 flozs) stock syrup (see recipe above) to taste

crushed ice, to serve

Place the run, strawberries (or raspberries), lime juice and 100ml (3 1/2 fl ozs) stock syrup in a blender and whiz until smooth. Taste and add more stock syrup if necessary. Pour into tumblers half-filled with crushed ice.

Thrifty Tip

The price of milk has collapsed on the world market. Why not support your local dairy farmer and buy milk directly from the farm.

 

Hottips

Work up an appetite for Sunday lunch with 4FM’s ‘Davis on 4’

Derek Davis talks to Ireland’s greatest chefs, food writers and bloggers every Sunday morning on Ireland’s newest radio station, 4FM, from 10am-12pm. In the coming months ‘Davis on 4’ will feature budget conscious restaurant reviews, wine discussions and many other food related topics such as recession friendly recipes, vegetable allotments and the best Irish cookery and wine appreciation courses, that will tantalise those taste buds on Sunday mornings.

PinkGinger

Eimer Rainsford holds exclusive but affordable cookery classes for up to eight people at home in her specially designed kitchen in Sandymount, Dublin. Ballymaloe trained, Eimer was Head Chef for the Avoca group for 11 years and contributed to their award winning cookbooks.  Her food is refreshing, as she is bold with flavours and believes that “Food is to be enjoyed and ingredients understood” To book a class contact PinkGinger on (087) 9864964 email

Cronin’s Pub Crosshaven

Sit outside on a sunny day at Cronin’s in Crosshaven, Co Cork and enjoy a big bowl of fresh mussels with herbs, oysters or juicy big crab claws with freshly baked soda bread prepared by chef Denis Cronin and his team. Booking is advisable for dinner in the ‘Mad Fish Restaurant’ Wednesday to Saturday nights. The pan fried turbot with herb butter is really good. (021) 4831829

 

A Taste of Greystones

All retailers, restaurants and their chefs will be participating in this event to be held on the Church Road on Sunday 23rd August. Taste of Ireland, Euro Toques, Failte Ireland and Georgina Campbell are backing the event. For more information, telephone 01 2016990 or email

backstage@bels.ie

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen

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