When I was growing up, I used to spend a lot of time staying at my grandparent's house down in Dorset. I vividly remember my grandfather's crops of late strawberries and tomatoes – along with his much-loved, prize-winning chrysanthemums.
We used to harvest the strawberries, often by the handful, all through the summer. Those plants were a prolonged little treat, dispensing the bright red fruit as the weeks went by. I can almost taste them now.
Commercial growers produce strawberries for many months of the year now, of course. They need to, to compete with the imports, but the flavour of these forced varieties can't hold a candle to the late-fruiting variety you get at this time of the year. Buy a punnet – you'll never look back.
French toast with strawberries
French toast makes a great brunch or special breakfast dish and can be either sweet or savoury.
If you are going sweet, you can top the toast with a mixture of seasonal fruits or even a compote that you might have knocking around.
4 slices of brioche (or bread)
2 medium eggs, beaten
2tbsp caster sugar
A few drops of vanilla essence
150-200g strawberries, hulled
4tbsp crème fraîche or clotted cream
Whisk the eggs, sugar, milk and vanilla together, lay the brioche on a deep tray and pour the egg mixture over and leave for 20 minutes.
Heat the butter in a preferably non-stick frying pan until foaming, carefully remove the brioche from the tin with a fish slice, and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until golden.
To serve, transfer on to serving plates, spoon the crème fraîche on top and scatter the strawberries over.
Strawberries with salted caramel fondue
Fondue is a great sharing dish that, traditionally, was savoury – but serving a sweet fondue is even better, and probably more attractive for the younger members of the family.
I've made this with various inflections of flavour – such as dark and white chocolate and hazelnut praline.
For the salted caramel fondue
280g caster sugar
500ml double cream
2tsp Cornish sea salt
Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes or so. Meanwhile, in another pan, bring the cream to the boil. Gently stir the hot cream into the sugar and water mixture, bring back to the boil, then add the sea salt and butter. Serve in a fondue dish, or similar, with the strawberries all around.
Jersey rice pudding with wild strawberries
You can find wild strawberries in country hedgerows, or you can grow them yourself. Trouble is, you need to get to them before the birds do. I had a nice crop of golden wild strawberries coming along this year in Dorset, then a week later they had vanished. Failing all that, search your local fruit and veg shops for them.
200g pudding rice
80g caster sugar
Half a vanilla pod, scraped
A good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
300g thick Jersey cream
120g strawberries, hulled
Add the rice, stir well and simmer gently, stirring every so often, for 30 minutes, or until the rice is tender. A simmering plate is helpful for this.
Remove from the heat, leave to cool, stir in the Jersey cream and refrigerate until required.
Meanwhile, blend the strawberries to a purée. To serve, pour the sauce on to serving plates, spoon the rice pudding on top with a large kitchen spoon and scatter the wild strawberries over. >
You rarely see knickerbocker glory any more; it used to be a seaside favourite in cafés and restaurants and then it just suddenly vanished, never to be seen again. Now, why was that? I always thought the knickerbocker glory was such a fun dessert.
What you put in it is up to you, but I've put meringues into this for some nice texture.
300-350g strawberries, hulled
About 120ml clotted cream
About 400ml good-quality vanilla ice-cream
Meringues to garnish
Blend about half of the strawberries in a liquidiser until they form a smooth paste. Slice the rest of the strawberries. Put a few strawberry slices in each of four tall sundae glasses and spoon in some of the purée and clotted cream.
Pile three small balls of ice-cream into the glasses, scattering in more strawberry slices as you do so. Spoon on the rest of the strawberry purée and clotted cream, then top with the remaining strawberry slices and break the meringues into small pieces on top and serve.
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