Serves 4 to 8

My mother Maria was a professional chef. In the summertime I would visit her at the hotel resort on a lake near our home in southern Austria, where she worked as a cook. She would rotate between all the different stations in the kitchen, but I loved it best when she was working at the patisserie station. When she used to come home in the evenings she would go out in garden and pick a few vegetables and make the most delicious soup for our dinner. We didn’t eat meat very much in those days, just a bit of charcuterie sausage and ham which we made ourselves; we had one or two pigs which we would slaughter in the summertime. We didn’t have a refrigerator or a TV or a telephone or anything like that.

Some evenings, my mother would make a dish called Kaiserschmarrn. These days we serve it as a dessert with strawberry compote at one of my my restaurants, but at home in Austria it was a sturdy meal in itself, which my mother made as you would a pancake, with eggs, sugar, flour and a little butter. It’s very simple. You put the mixture in a hot heavy pan and cook on one side, then turn it over and with two forks, one in each hand, you tear it in little pieces, and then put sugar over the little chunks until they caramelise.

Mother would serve it with plum compote which she would make from plums growing in our garden. For me, this dish with a glass of milk was the best dinner. My Father was a coal miner. He would work for three weeks and come home for a week. He never cooked. When I was 14 and left home to do a cooking apprenticeship he thought it was the worse thing. Cooking was a job for women, he wanted me to become a carpenter or electrician - a real profession for a man. But we always agreed about Kaiserschmarrn. This was his favourite dish too, when mother made this we were all big smiles.

4 free range egg yolks
4 1/2 ounces sugar
8 ounces crème fraîche
1 ounce dark rum
4 teaspoons flour
2 tablespoons plumped organic golden raisins
Soft unsalted butter, for brushing
Sugar, for coating
3 cage-free egg whites
1 recipe Strawberry Sauce
1 pound organic strawberries, hulled, cut in halves

Prepare the “kaiser” base. In the mixer bowl, combine the egg yolks and 3 ounces of sugar. Mix over medium speed, with the wire whisk, until pale yellow. Add the crème fraîche and rum. Continue to mix until smooth. Fold in the flour and raisins. This can be prepared up to 1 day in advance.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Brush 4 6-inch saute pans with butter and sprinkle with sugar.

To make the Kaiserschmarrn, in a separate mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. Add the remaining 1-1/2 ounces of sugar and continue to whip until stiff but not dry. Fold the meringue into the “kaiser” base. Spoon the souffled mixture into the 4 pans. Bake for 12 minutes.

To serve, in a medium saute pan, reheat the Strawberry Sauce. Add the fresh strawberries and toss until well coated. Serve over the Kaiserschmarrn.

For the Strawberry Sauce:

1/2 pound organic strawberries, hulled
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 whole star anise
1/2 tablespoon orange zest
Juice of 1/2 orange
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 tablespoon fresh organic lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cover with plastic wrap. Allow flavor to infuse for 10 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a blender and process until well incorporated. Strain. This can be prepared up to 3 days ahead.