Tag Archives: strawberries

Absolutely Fabulous Pavlova

One of my favourite summer desserts, Pavlova is just divine: sweet, ripe fruit on top of whipped double cream, all gracing wonderful meringue: crisp on the outside and deliciously light, soft and slightly chewy on the inside. The combination is just heavenly and the joy of this recipe is that it is ridiculously easy to make – I’d never made meringue before finding this recipe but it has always been a success – in every way – and a firm favourite on our summer menus.

Serves 6 – 8

What you need…

3 egg whites

Pinch of salt

250g caster sugar, plus 3 – 4 teaspoons for the cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon malt vinegar

300ml double cream (or more if you want to pile it high!)

At least 1 x 300g punnet of ripe summer strawberries or a combination of your favourite summer fruit – I often combine strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. The amount of fruit is all about personal preference

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 140°c / 275°f / gas 1.

Line a baking tray with Bake O Glide/parchment paper and draw a 23cm circle on it (as guidance for later).

Using an handheld electric whisk, beat the egg whites and salt together until very stiff. Then, gradually whisk in the 250g caster sugar until it forms stiff peaks – this takes 3 – 4 minutes. Fold in the vanilla extract and vinegar.

Plop the meringue mixture onto your baking tray, gently spreading it to fit the drawn circle. Pop it into the oven and leave for 1 hour until firm. Then – and this is key – switch the oven off but leave your meringue in for a further 30 minutes with the door closed.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely. Discard the lining paper and put your meringue onto a pretty serving plate.

Whisk the cream and 3 – 4 teaspoons of sugar together (the amount of sugar depends on your personal taste) until stiff and then pile on top of the meringue. Arrange the fruit on top, stand back, admire your handy work and then serve – just divine – this is one of those desserts that is so light and delicious, I just keep coming back for one more spoonful….time and time again. Enjoy!

Pavlova close up w

Tips…

Don’t waste the egg yolks – they can be frozen for another use.

If I’m feeding a crowd, I’ll double up on these ingredients and made a great big Pavlova and then use the remaining 6 egg yolks to make a large tiramisu – a thoroughly naughty conclusion to any meal!

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

Very, very easy and simply delicious!

Fantasy Cake

You know how the first sunshine of summer works – you sit outside in April or May after months and months of cold, grey, wet winter (and spring) days and you feel those first wonderfully warm rays sink into your bones – all is well with the world. Well, making and eating this cake is a similar experience: it’s best enjoyed warm – the sponge is moist and the deliciously gooey, sweet strawberries deliver summer direct to all of your senses – one of my favourite recipes from Lisa Faulkner’s book, ‘Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter’. Just lovely!

What you need…

1 x 23cm spring form cake tin, lightly buttered and lined with Bake O Glide or parchment paper on the bottom

175g unsalted butter, softened

150g caster sugar

150g self-raising flour

2 eggs

3 tablespoons milk

100g ground almonds

1 teaspoon almond essence

400g strawberries, hulled and halved

Icing sugar for dusting

What to do…

Preheat oven to 160°c / 325°f, gas 3.

Using a food processor, whizz together all the ingredients except the strawberries and icing sugar.

Stir in the fruit, reserving a handful for decorating.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and put the remaining handful of fruit on top of the cake.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 1-1¼ hours. To test if it is cooked, pierce the cake with a skewer – if it is clean when you pull it out, the cake is cooked. If not, pop it back in for another 5 – 10 minutes.

Turn the cake out of the tin onto a wire rack to cool and then dust with icing sugar. It’s most gorgeous served just as its turning from warm to room temperature, ideally outside enjoying early summer sunshine.

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

Really easy and it comes with a sense of well-being!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crêpes Suzette and Other Pancakes

Who can resist? Shrove Tuesday – the perfect excuse to indulge in delicious, naughty pancakes, stacked high and topped traditionally with the sweet and tart marriage that is sugar and lemon or filled with some luscious alternatives. It doesn’t matter, whatever you choose, enjoy your crêpes Suzette and other pancakes!

Makes batter and sauce makes enough for 8 crêpes/pancakes

What you need…

for the crêpe/pancake batter

175g plain flour, sifted

2 large eggs

175ml milk

110ml water

Rapeseed oil

Greaseproof paper

for the classic crêpes suzette sauce

50g unsalted butter

150ml orange juice (3 large oranges)

Grated zest 1 orange

Grated zest and juice 1 lemon

1 tablespoon caster sugar

3 tablespoons Grand Marnier

What to do…

To make your crêpe/pancake batter (let’s refer to them as pancakes from hereon in – I’m getting fed up typing ‘crêpe/pancake’) tip the flour into a large jug together with the eggs, milk and water, and using an electric hand whisk, vigorously whisk the ingredients so that they are thoroughly blended, creating your batter.

Put a small frying pan on the highest heat with 1 teaspoon of rapeseed oil. When the oil is just smoking, add 1 ladle of batter and swish it around the pan so that the pan is evenly coated. Cook for about 1 minute. You’ll know when the underside of the pancake is cooked – just shake the frying pan and the pancake will easily move about. At this point – the fun part – remove the pan from the heat and tilt it so that the pancake slips to the furthest edge of the pan. Then, a quick flick of the wrist and flip that pancake…….how high depends on how confident you’re feeling!!!!! Cook for a further minute and then tip it out onto a piece of greaseproof paper.

Repeat this process until all the pancake batter has been used and you have a stack of pancakes, each separated by greaseproof paper.

In a medium-sized frying pan, melt the butter. Then add the sauce and gently warm. Place the first pancake into the pan and gently warm it before folding it in half and then in half again to make a triangle. Slide it to the edge of the pan and then tilt the pan so that the sauce runs back into the centre. Repeat this process until all the pancakes are reheated, folded and drenched in sauce.

Serve these delicious pancakes immediately on warmed plates and thoroughly enjoy this naughty dessert in the name of Shrove Tuesday! Yummy!

Alternative toppings and fillings…

Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice and a Smattering of Caster Sugar

The classic pancake topping. After squeezing and smattering, roll up and indulge. Simple and simply lovely.

Rhubarb and Vanilla

Rhubarb pancake w

To make enough for 4 generous pancake fillings, put 400g trimmed and sliced rhubarb into a lightly buttered ovenproof dish together with 70g caster sugar and a split vanilla pod. Cover with foil and pop into a preheated oven (160°c / 310°f /gas 3) and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, and discard the vanilla pod. Gently mash the rhubarb and then spoon a ladleful on one half of the pancake, folding the over the half over the top. Indulge. Light, sweet and a lovely change from the normal.

Warmed Balsamic Strawberries

To make enough for 4 generous pancake fillings, hull and quarter 250g sweet, ripe strawberries and pop them in a saucepan over a moderate heat together with 1 teaspoon caster sugar and 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the strawberries have been gently warmed and coated in the balsamic glaze. Spoon a ladleful on one half of the pancake, folding the over the half over the top. Just divine although a dollop of vanilla ice cream on the top wouldn’t be inappropriate!

Chocolate Spread

Ugh!!!! But the kids like it. Smother chocolate spread over the top of the pancake, roll up and eat! No comment! Don’t let them near either the knife or the jar of chocolate spread – it’ll get messy!

Inspired by…

A bit of mix really. The batter mix is one of Delia Smith’s, the rhubarb and vanilla filling comes from Lisa Faulkner and the warmed balsamic strawberries from a vanilla cheesecake recipe by Stuart Gillies.

How easy…

Pancakes aren’t hard are they? You’ve just got to decide how naughty you want to be and how high you flip ‘em!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vanilla and Amaretti Cheesecakes with Balsamic-Infused Strawberries

I saw a version of these completely delectable little cheesecakes on Saturday Kitchen and thought that I must give them a go. Wow! The TV didn’t do them justice – the rich, smooth creaminess of the cheesecake is perfectly contrasted by the warm, sweet, lusciousness of the strawberries, their flavour emphasised by balsamic vinegar (most unexpected). They look fabulous, are so easy to make and taste out of this world!

 Serves 4

 What you need…

 4 x chefs’ rings, 5.5cm diametre x 6cm deep (easily available online)

10 Amaretti biscuits

250g cream cheese

125g caster sugar

125g crème fraiche

240ml double cream

1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out

for the strawberries

200g strawberries, hulled and quartered

2 teaspoons caster sugar

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

What to do…

In a large bowl, tip in your cream cheese, caster sugar, crème fraiche, double cream and vanilla seeds. Whisk until smooth and thickened up so that the whisks leave a distinct trail.

Place the chefs’ rings on a flat plate, lined with Bake O Glide or parchment paper. Spoon the cheesecake mixture into each ring, pushing the mixture down to make sure there are no gaps. Smooth off the top with a palette knife and pop them in the fridge for at least 2 hours to set. If you are having friends around for dinner, you can do this bit in the morning and leave the rest until you are about ready to serve.

Just before you are ready to serve, pop your Amaretti biscuits into a plastic zip-lock bag and using a rolling pin, crush them inside the bag to create a dusting.

Remove the cheesecakes from the fridge and set aside at room temperature for 5 minutes.

Place the Amaretti crumbs on a plate and then dip each of the cheesecakes in their chefs’ rings into the crumbs, 2 – 3 times if necessary – to make sure that the end is thoroughly covered. Dip both ends in the Amaretti crumbs.

Then, hold your breath (!) and lightly shake each cheesecake from the chefs’ ring onto its serving plate. Despite your total disbelief, it will gently drop down the ring and then plop out beautifully onto your serving plate – looking gorgeous!

Meanwhile, heat a saucepan over a high heat. Tip in the strawberries and sugar and cook, stirring continually for about 1 minute. Pour over the balsamic and cook for a further 1 minute.

Spoon some of the strawberries onto the plate alongside the cheesecake. Absolutely delicious – the strawberries contrast the cheesecake perfectly, both elements enhancing the flavour of the other. Serve your vanilla and Amaretti cheesecakes with balsamic-infused strawberries together with a wee glass of Disaronno Italian liqueur or a lovely little dessert wine to complete the indulgence! Yum!

Tip…

Chefs’ rings are almost like slices of metal piping you might expect on a building site! Another description would that of a cookie cutter, double the normal depth.

Inspired by…

Stuart Gillies, with James Martin on Saturday Kitchen

How easy…

Really easy, the only nervy bit is when you’re watching the cheesecake slowly drop through the chefs’ rings but be patient, and it will be fine!