Friday, June 28, 2013

Un mélange de fraises (A mélange of strawberries).

I love fresh strawberries. To me, they're the quintessential essence of a perfect summer's day. During my student years on continental Europe, having a small budget was no obstacle whatsoever. At the height of the strawberry season, I spent many a blissful Saturday morning at my local market, browsing  the tables laden with mountains of ruby-red deliciousness. After buying my weekly ration of two punnets, I would trot over to the ALDI supermarket because their vanilla ice-cream was (and still is) the cheapest. Back at my studio, I washed and sorted the fruit. The softest berries were sliced and diced for a strawberry vanilla ripple. The firmest ones I rolled in white sugar and chilled in the freezer. My tiny abode had an even smaller balcony, nestled in a sheltered alcove overlooking the enclosed courtyard of a centuries-old church. As soon as the sugar had crystallised into a crunchy layer on the strawberries, I would bring out the whole bowl to the balcony and settled down to watch the lengthening shadows of the setting sun over the church roof.

Best made with soft fruit. Cut up the berries into small bits or thin slices, put in a glass bowl with a spoonful (or more!) of strawberry jam. (Given the acidic nature of strawberry juice, I avoid using plastic and metal containers.) Then add vanilla ice-cream and mix well.

I always use fruit which is firm to touch. Roll each berry in icing sugar or castor sugar. But if you're on a tight budget, normal white sugar works just as well. Chill well before consumption, preferably in the freezer compartment.

FRAISES AU VIN BLANC (Strawberries in White Wine):
Approximately 10 berries per 500 ml of wine. Tip the wine into a caraf or jug. Cut the fruit into quarters and add to the wine. Chill for several hours. This recipe works best with firm fruit. I learnt from my 1st attempt that the softest berries have the highest alcohol absorption rate ... 

Strawberry cameo brooches, strawberry short-cake clips (lined with quality grossgrain ribbon) and bobby pins.

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