FOOD & DRINK / Strawberry Fare

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Recipe: COEUR A LA CREME

Elizabeth David popularised the idea of eating strawberries with coeur a la creme, a dish enjoyed in the Loire valley in Anjou and Saumur (whose fresh fruity wines, chilled, go well with strawberries). Make this a day in advance.

Serves 4

1/2 pint double cream

2 egg whites

2lb strawberries, hulled sugar and more cream to taste

Beat the egg whites until stiff. In another bowl, beat the cream until stiff. Then fold the egg whites into the cream.

Put a layer of muslin into a mould pierced with holes (you could use a wire sieve if you had no mould) and put the cream mixture in to drain. Keep in fridge overnight. To serve, invert on to a plate and cover with more whipped cream. Surround with strawberries, sprinkled with sugar.

Recipe: STRAWBERRIES SARAH BERNHARDT

Escoffier identified an affinity between the flavour of pineapple and that of strawberries, and he dedicated this dish to the great actress.

Serves 2

1lb strawberries, hulled

8oz peeled ripe pineapple, pureed

a sprinkling of sugar

a splash of Grand Marnier

2 scoops of vanilla ice-cream

Marinate the strawberries with the liqueur and a sprinkling of sugar, keeping the bowl in the fridge. Serve the strawberries on top of the best dairy vanilla ice-cream and pureed pineapple.

Escoffier couldn't resist overegging the custard and tops it with a mousse of Curacao, but we can leave that to hotel chefs.

Recipe: ICED STRAWBERRY SOUFFLE

Serves 4 to 6

1/2 lb strawberries, hulled

3 teaspoons powdered gelatine

2oz sugar

1/4 pint double cream

juice of 1 orange

whites of 3 eggs

In a double saucepan dissolve the gelatine in the orange juice. Then add the sugar, and stir until dissolved. Leave to cool.

Whip the cream until firm, but not solid. Whiz the strawberries in a blender briefly, and press the puree through a sieve into a bowl. Stir in the gelatine mixture.

Fold in the whipped cream, and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, and fold into the strawberry cream mixture. Heap into ramekins, or one large souffle bowl. Chill in the fridge for at least one hour.

Recipe: STRAWBERRY JAM

It was not a cook but a gardener in his mid-seventies who gave me this recipe for a quick strawberry jam. He used to make it every week of the strawberry season while listening to the news on the radio. It takes no more than a 15-minute bulletin to cook. If you can't pick the best strawberries from the garden, he says, buy 2lb of strawberries and select 1lb of the best for the jam and eat the rest. Of course, you can double up on the quantities.

Makes 2lb

1lb finest ripe strawberries, hulled

1lb sugar

juice of half a lemon

Wash and drain the strawberries. While still wet, put them in a wide, shallow pan with the lemon juice, and cook on lowest heat until the strawberries are soft, and the liquid is running.

Meanwhile, warm the sugar in an ovenproof dish in a low oven. Add to the fruit, and when dissolved turn up the heat and boil rapidly for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring gently from time to time.

The lemon juice provides pectin to help the jam set; if it doesn't make a firm set, don't overboil, which ruins the flavour. It tastes just as good when it is runny.

Recipe: STRAWBERRY SORBET

For best results use an ice-cream maker.

Serves 4

1lb strawberries, hulled

4fl oz water

about 2oz icing sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Put the strawberries and water in a blender and make a puree. Rub it through a sieve to get rid of the seeds.

Dissolve the icing sugar in it, adding more or less to your taste (allowing for the fact that some of the sweetness is lost in freezing, so you can be generous). Add the lemon juice.

Freeze in an ice-cream maker. If you use any other container, take out the mixture after half an hour and beat to prevent crystals forming. Repeat this process several times, until a smooth sorbet is achieved, in two or three hours. Best eaten within a day.

Recipe: STRAWBERRIES ROMANOFF

Serves 2

1lb strawberries, hulled

juice of 1 orange

2 tablespoons Curacao, Grand Marnier or Cointreau

4fl oz whipping cream for creme Chantilly or whipped cream

icing sugar

Marinate the strawberries with the orange juice and liqueur in the fridge for an hour. Serve covered with whipped cream. Creme Chantilly is cream whipped in a chilled bowl (over ice) until frothy but not stiff, then sweetened with (in this case) two teaspoons of icing sugar.

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