As this weekend is when the festivities begin for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee I think it appropriate to focus on strawberries, which will form the sweet part of much of any celebratory feasting up and down the land.
The best variety of strawberry, in my opinion, is called Jubilee. I feel sure that the growers of Jubilee will have got their berries on to the market in time for this weekend, although Jubilee strawberries usually start fruiting mid-June. They have a long season, right up to mid-October. Their flavour is superb.
There are certain flavours that really enhance that of strawberries - lemon and orange, coffee, vanilla, black pepper and basil, but for me, never chocolate combined with strawberries.
Here are three special-occasion puds, each ideal for this weekend as well as throughout the summer months.
Coffee and brown sugar meringue cake with strawberry cream
4 large egg whites
4oz/113g granulated sugar
4oz/113g Demerara sugar
1 rounded teaspoon best quality instant coffee granules dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water. Cooled.
Put a disc of baking parchment in each of two 9in/22cm diameter loose-based cake tins. Whisk up the egg whites with a pinch of salt - this gives greater volume - and, when fairly stiff, whisk in the combined sugars a spoonful at a time and whisking in each before adding the next. When all the sugar is incorporated and the meringue very thick and stiff, briefly whisk in the tablespoon of cold coffee.
Divide the meringue evenly between each cake tin and smooth to within about 1cm of the edge of the baking parchment disc. Bake in a cool oven, 250F/100C/Gas Mark 1 for 1½-2 hours – the meringue is cooked when you can lift the paper easily from the back.
For the filling
¾ pint/425ml double cream whipped with
1 rounded tablespoon sieved icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1lb/450g strawberries, hulled and chopped, but reserve 8 whole strawberries, even better if they have their stalks on, for garnish
Whip the cream till stiff enough to hold its shape. Whisk in the sieved icing sugar and vanilla extract. Spoon about a quarter of the whipped cream into a disposable piping bag from which you have snipped 1in/2.5cm from the end.
Fold the chopped strawberries into the whipped cream in the bowl.
Put one coffee meringue on to a serving plate on which you have put a dab of cream – this helps anchor the meringue. Spread the strawberry cream over the surface of the meringue, then put the other meringue on top.
Pipe even-sized swirls of cream in 8 places – this is easiest done if you pipe as if marking midday on a clock, then 3, 6 and 9, and then pipe in between each.
Put one of the reserved strawberries on each small swirl of whipped cream. Cut the meringue cake with a serrated knife dipped in a jug of hot water between slicing.
Rich vanilla and black pepper tart with strawberry and lemon cream
4oz/113g butter, cut in bits and hard from the fridge
6oz/170g plain flour
1 rounded tablespoon icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
about 15 grinds of black pepper
Put the above ingredients into a food processor and whiz to the texture of fine crumbs. Press these firmly over the base and up the sides of a flan dish measuring 9in/22cm diameter, and put the flan dish into the fridge for at least an hour, before baking in a moderate heat, 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4, for about 20 minutes - the pastry should be pale biscuit-coloured. During baking, the sides will slip down towards the base - with a metal spoon scrape them back into place and bake for a further couple of minutes. Cool the pastry base.
For the filling
2 large egg whites
3oz/85g sieved icing sugar
½ pint/285ml double cream
finely grated rind of 1 lemon and its juice
1lb/450g strawberries, chopped
If you make the filling in this order there is no need to wash the whisks until you have finished.
Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff, then whisk in the sieved icing sugar, a spoonful at a time. When all the sugar is whisked in and you have a stiff meringue, put a plate on the bowl containing the meringue, and, using the same whisks, whip up the double cream, adding the lemon juice – not the grated rind yet – until the cream is fairly stiff, but beware of it being too stiff.
Fold the chopped strawberries and finely grated lemon rind through and into the whipped cream, then fold the meringue into the strawberry cream. Pile the filling into the cooled pastry and smooth even – I don’t see any need for a garnish for this tart, it looks pretty enough with the strawberry cream.
Strawberry, orange and basil suedoise
This is ideal for those who are allergic to dairy products – a suedoise is a set, jellied purée, in this case of strawberries. It is essential to sieve the strawberry purée to get rid of the tiny woody seeds.
1lb/450g strawberries, hulled and chopped – reserve 6 whole berries for garnish
small handful of basil leaves
¼ pint/140ml water
3oz/85g granulated sugar
pared rind of 1 lemon
1 Earl Grey teabag
finely grated rind of 1 orange, and its juice
5 leaves of gelatine soaked in cold water for 10 minutes
6 moulds, for setting the suedoises in, or they can be set in pretty teacups and served without being turned out if you prefer.
Put the chopped strawberries into a food processor with the basil leaves and whiz till smooth. Sieve the purée into a measure jug. (To wash up the sieve with ease, bash it several times on the edge of the sink, which dislodges the seeds from the mesh)
Put the ¼ pint/140ml water into a saucepan with the granulated sugar and, over moderate heat stir until the sugar granules dissolve. Add the lemon rind to the pan, and simmer gently. Add the Earl Grey teabag, and the orange rind and juice, and simmer for 1 minute. Then remove the lemon rind strips and the teabag, and lift the soaked gelatine from its soaking water, dripping off all the water before dropping them into the hot liquid in the pan. Stir and the gelatine should dissolve immediately. Stir this into the strawberry and basil purée thoroughly. Pour into each of the 6 moulds, and leave to set.
To turn out, dip each mould briefly into a bowl of very hot water, then shake out onto each of 6 plates. Serve with a whole strawberry and, if you like, some segmented oranges at the side. Alternatively, if you set the suedoise in teacups, put a whole strawberry on top of each with a sprig of basil.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: East
Temperature: 9 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east