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Posts Tagged ‘Meringue’

It’s Strawberry Season!

There is something extraordinarily British about strawberry season. I start remembering again that I’m quintessentially English when the PYO adverts begin arriving on the side of the countryside lanes and I am once more happy!
Actually, I happen to have a strawberry patch in my garden. The first year, we got two strawberries. I was delighted! Then they send out a few sneaky runners… This year, a few years down the line, and we have dozens upon hundreds, and that is no exaggeration. However, I have not been defeated – after all strawberry season doesn’t go on forever, just a tiny 6 weeks so I thought I best make the most of it. And with this I set about researching. Why, how much you can do with a few little strawberries (and actually by this point it was more a case of which recipes used up the greatest selection of strawberries!).

So firstly I made some Strawberry Jelly – No Hartleys involved, just a recipe provided by architect and fellow Wibble Wobble lover Bompas & Parr in a new Jelly Mould I acquired from leaving my last job (they knew me well). Following on from this, the leftover strawberry pulp I made into a delicious sorbet (by hand, whisking every few hours – now I know why they invented the ice cream machine…).

So what next? Aha! Cheesecake – I used a recipe from the second Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook which involved simmering the strawberries with lemon and sugar and stirring into the base cheesecake mixture and then baking. Before this I had never made a baked cheesecake, but success was given. The sister’s fiancée was most grateful and compliments were profound.

But alas, a few days later and two more colanders worth are picked again. Which calls for JAM. Wham Bam, off I toodled to Sainsbury’s to pick up some pectin sugar and I had a cauldron of bubbling, ‘I may go require A+E assistance soon’, Jam! Why does nobody ever tell you the dangers of cooking such things? Luckily, I survived, and the dreaded setting test gave me absolutely no indication of whether it actually would set. Fortunately, the fact it was sticking to every implement, cooker and worktop it had touched proved sufficient for a lovely soft set Jam. Lots of it. And I dont even like Jam – I do like Jammy Dodgers though so I guess that will be going on my project list.

Next, a refreshment. Good old fashioned lemonade. Loads of Lemons, a good slug of sugar syrup (make sure its cold!!) and water with strawberries pureed down to a pulp = strawberry lemonade. Tasty Tasty.

And lastly, meringue nests with a good whack of cream whipped to soft peaks (or a little more if you forget how strong your mixer is like me.) and a load of strawberries arranged in whatever manner your artistic side allows for. Actually these were going to be baskets until I’d already pipped the meringue out as a nest. Oops. Meringue is also useful in the strawberry cause in Eton Mess, Roulade, and sundae type devices. Just don’t leave them out overnight like I did, it doesn’t make for a good texture.

The rest of the strawberries (continually) I’m freezing. I know people say don’t but personally if you wash them after freezing so they have as little water on them as possible, they can be used in a huge variety of desserts – cheesecake, mousse, lemonade, stewed rhubarb and strawberry crumble. Basically anything which requires the strawberries to be pureed or cooked and they are still just as delicious. And after that you still have Jam – for biscuits, scones, toast and roulade!

This is where this post ends, however the strawberries are still flowering so it looks like I’ll be eating them in December too!

P.S. Next post I’m sticking to the rule ‘a cook never lets in on her cooking flaws’…..

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