It just would not be summer without a trip to the seaside.
Add just a hint of the beach by serving these bite sized British strawberries, dipped in dark glossy chocolate flavoured with just a hint of orange over a bed of crushed biscuit crumbs or press the mixture into mini buckets or dariole tins for a fun take on a sandcastle.
225g/8oz gluten free flour
Large pinch of fine salt
1 vanilla pod, slit lengthways, seeds scraped from pod
55g/2oz icing sugar
110g/4oz butter, diced
1 egg yolk
2-3 teaspoons water
6 ice cream cones
200g/7oz dark chocolate, broken into pieces
Finely grated zest of 2 medium oranges
2 teaspoons light olive oil
500g/1lb 2oz strawberries, chilled
To make the sand biscuit, preheat the oven to 180oC/160oC fan assisted/Gas Mark 4.
Add the flour, salt, vanilla seeds and icing sugar to a bowl or food processor.
Add the butter and rub in until fine crumbs.
Add the egg and just enough water to mix to a soft dough.
Roll the dough out between two sheets of non-stick baking paper, slide on to a baking sheet then chill for 20 minutes.
For the strawberries
Add the chocolate, orange rind and olive oil to a bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water, making sure that the water does not touch the base of the bowl.
Heat until just melted then stir until smooth.
Strain the chocolate through a fine sieve into a bowl, if liked then dip the strawberries into the chocolate and put on to a tray lined with non-stick baking paper.
Put in a cool place to set.
Crush the biscuit and ice cream cones into fine crumbs.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan, mix in 225g/8oz of the crumbs then pack into 6 small buttered mini buckets or dariole moulds.
Chill 10 minutes then loosen and turn out on to small plates. Scatter extra crumbs on to the plates then arrange the strawberries on top, adding little flags or plastic spoons if liked.
Short of time then cheat and use two bars of your favourite brand of flavoured chocolate.
Gently cooking fresh strawberries with dried hibiscus flowers, a little chilli and fructose sugar in a sealed bowl over hot water brings out and captures the very essence of summer. Keep the nectar in the fridge or even the freezer and serve ice cold in shot glasses or topped up with prosecco or champagne for a kir style cocktail.
600g/1lb 5oz strawberries, hulled and quartered
30g/1oz fructose sugar
1 red chilli, halved, seeds removed, finely chopped
5g/1/8th oz dried hibiscus flowers
Add the strawberries, sugar, chilli and hibiscus flowers to a large bowl, cover the top tightly with clingfilm then place the bowl over the top of a medium sized saucepan of gently simmering water.
Cook gently for 40-50 minutes.
Allow to cool then chill well.
Line a sieve with muslin and set over a bowl, add the strawberry mix, tie with string then suspend above the bowl to drain slowly.
Pour the nectar into a bottle and chill until ready to serve.
If you haven’t bought fructose sugar before it is sold in small cardboard packs in the supermarket alongside the sugar and sweeteners.
It is a low GI sugar and sweeter than ordinary caster sugar, but don’t confuse it with a sugar substitute or sweetener.
These fab sandwiches in true Alice in Wonderland style are not all that they seem.
While they may look like white bread spread with butter and filled with salad they are actually made with thinly sliced white chocolate cake topped with delicious olive oil white chocolate ganache flavoured with just a hint of chamomile tea, a thin layer of chocolate ‘grass’, fresh British strawberries, mint leaves and strawberry jam pepped up with black pepper and orange blossom water.
This year’s crop of British berries is a bumper one, thanks to the wet summer in 2012 followed by this year’s hot, sunny one. Make the most of this abundance of sweet, juicy berries to create your own fresh, homemade jam. From the UK’s obsession with the Great British Bake Off to Brad Pitt flying to France for his favourite pots of jam, homemade jam is having a moment.
Rosemary Jameson, founder of the Guild of Jam and Preserve Makers, is encouraging the UK to take advantage of summer berries and reap their benefits throughout the colder months. She said, “The routine of jam making can be very therapeutic, a great stress relief and a counterpoint to busy modern life”.
There is no end of ways to use it – you can dip into your supply to make jam tarts, Victoria sponges or just spread it on a slice of thick, freshly baked sourdough to warm you up on a cold autumn day. And there’s no need to stop at jam. Served with a strong, hard cheese, homemade chutney is an indulgent autumn treat.
Salt and pepper squid with chili strawberry chutney
Strawberries aren’t just for jam – experiment and try them in chili chutney, accompanied by salt and pepper squid.
Serves 4 as a starter
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Chili and strawberry chutney
3 large mild red chilies, about 40 g (1½ oz) in total, halved, deseeded, finely chopped
4 cm (1 ½ inch) piece root ginger, peeled, grated
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, roughly crushed
450 g (1 lb) strawberries, sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
450 g (1 lb) caster sugar
150 ml (¼ pint) white wine vinegar
4 teaspoons corn flour
1 tablespoon water
Salt and pepper squid
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) baby squid, cleaned, defrosted if frozen
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, finely crushed
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
4 tablespoons corn flour
4 tablespoons plain flour
1 egg white
Sunflower oil for deep frying
Little paprika to garnish, optional
Iceberg lettuce leaves to serve, optional
Put all the ingredients for the chutney, except the corn flour and water into a medium sized saucepan and cook over a gentle heat, stirring from time to time until the sugar has dissolved.
Increase the heat slightly and simmer, stirring from time to time for 30 minutes until the strawberries are soft.
Mix the corn flour with the water until a smooth paste, stir into the chutney and cook for one minute until thickened and smooth. Leave to cool.
Remove the tentacles from inside the squid tubes, rinse tentacles and tubes well in cold water, drain and slice the tubes into 1 cm (½ inch) rings.
Spoon the peppercorns and salt on to a plate, add the corn flour and flour and mix together.
Fork the egg white on a second plate to break up.
Half-fill a deep saucepan with oil and heat until the surface begins to shimmer.
Meanwhile dip a few of the squid rings into the egg white, drain off the excess then toss in the flour.
Drop one of the rings into the oil, if it bubbles instantly it is ready.
Lower the flour coated squid into the oil with a draining spoon or frying basket.
Cook for two-three minutes until the squid is pale golden brown and cooked through, lift out of the oil, drain well and transfer to a second plate lined with kitchen paper.
Continue dipping the squid slices and tentacles in the flour mix and frying in small batches until it is all cooked.
Spoon on to fresh squares of kitchen paper or into lettuce leaves set on serving plates, spoon the chutney into small individual dishes, add to plates and serve immediately.
If you have friends coming over then make this easy dessert the day before then slice and decorate when you need it. Couldn’t be simpler and a great hit with adults and kids.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
100g (4oz) soft margarine
100g (4oz) caster sugar
100g (4oz) self-raising flour
Grated rind of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons powdered gelatine
225g (8oz) strawberries, hulled
150g (5oz) raspberries
150ml (1/4 pint) double cream
400g (14oz) can full fat condensed milk
Juice of 1 lemon
225g (8oz) strawberries
150g (5oz) raspberries
Few extra strawberries, hulled, sliced
Few extra raspberries
Few sugar confetti hearts, optional
Few red hundreds and thousands, optional
Little icing sugar, sifted
Preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF), Gas Mark 4.
Line an 18 x 28 x 4cm (7 x 11 x 1½ inch) loose bottomed rectangular cake tin with non-stick baking paper, snipping diagonally into the corners of the paper and pressing into the tin so that the base and sides are lined.
Add all the sponge ingredients to a bowl or food processor and beat together until smooth.
Spoon into the paper lined tin and smooth into a thin even layer.
Bake for 15 minutes until golden and the sponge springs back when lightly pressed with a finger.
Leave to cool in the tin.
Meanwhile, make the mousse by adding the water to a small heatproof bowl; sprinkle the gelatine over the top so that all the dry powder is absorbed.
Leave to stand for 5 minutes then stand the bowl in a saucepan of hot water and simmer gently for about 5-10 minutes until the gelatine is a clear liquid.
Puree the strawberries and raspberries in a food processor or liquidiser then press through a sieve.
Lightly whisk the cream in a bowl until it forms soft swirls then whisk in the condensed milk and lemon juice until thick and smooth.
Whisk in the fruit puree then gradually fold in the gelatine, pouring it into the bowl in a thin steady stream.
Pour the mousse over the sponge base.
Freeze overnight, loosely wrapping in foil when set.
To make the sauce, puree the berries then press through a sieve, pour into a plastic box and chill in the fridge overnight.
When ready to serve, remove the dessert from the freezer.
Unwrap, remove from the tin and peel away the lining paper.
Cut into 10 bars with a knife dipped in hot water.
Transfer to serving plates.
Arrange extra berries, sugar confetti and hundreds and thousands on top, dust with sifted icing sugar and serve with a separate jug of pureed berries.
Make up the strawberry swirled meringues and fruit puree the day before, then just layer with whipped cream and extra fruit in recycled jam jars and screw on the lids, take out to the garden in a basket or pack into a cool box for a picnic pud.
Preparation time: 35 minutes
Cooking time: 1¼ -1½ hours
225g (8oz) strawberries, hulled
100g (4oz) raspberries
2 egg whites
100g (4oz) caster sugar
300ml (1/2 pint) double cream
200g (7oz) 0.1% fat fromage frais
225g (8oz) strawberries, hulled, roughly chopped
50g (2oz) raspberries
Preheat the oven to 110oC (225oF), Gas Mark ¼.
Line a large baking sheet with non-stick baking paper.
Puree the strawberries and raspberries in a liquidiser or food processor then press through a sieve.
Whisk the egg whites in a large clean dry bowl until they form stiff moist looking peaks and you feel confident that if the bowl was turned upside down the egg whites wouldn’t fall out!
Gradually whisk in the sugar a teaspoonful at a time then continue whisking for a minute or two until really thick and glossy.
Add 2 tablespoons of the berry puree then very briefly mix until marbled.
Spoon into a large piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm (¾ inch) plain piping tube, pipe small rounds on to the lined baking sheet.
Bake for 11/4-11/2 hours or until the meringues may be easily lifted off the paper.
Leave to cool.
Lightly whip the cream until it forms soft swirls then fold in the fromage frais.
Crumble the meringues then layer in jam jars or plastic containers with the remaining berry puree and diced strawberries.
Decorate with the raspberries.
Add the lids and keep in the fridge until ready to serve or transport to a picnic in a cool bag with a frozen ice block to keep them cold.
Serve within 1½ hours or the meringues tend to lose their crunch.
About this post - Recipe and photo credit by Seasonal Berries
Dotted with fresh blackberries, this light sponge tray bake is much lower in saturated fat than traditional cakes as it is made with sunflower oil rather than butter, with a surprise of grated beetroot for added moistness.
Cuts into 24 small pieces
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 30-35 minutes
For the cake 3 medium eggs
150ml (1/4 pint) sunflower oil
175g (6oz) caster sugar
Grated rind of 2 lemons
225g (8oz) self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
175g (6oz) or 2 medium cooked beetroot from a chilled vacuum pack of beetroot in natural juices, drained and coarsely grated
150g (5oz) blackberries
150g (5oz) icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon Few lemon rind curls, optional
Preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF) Gas Mark 4.
Line an 18 x 28 x 4cm (7 x 11 x 1½ inch) loose bottomed rectangular cake tin with a large piece of non-stick baking paper and snip into the corners of the paper diagonally.
Press into the tin so that the base and sides of the tin are lined.
Add the eggs, oil, sugar and lemon rind to a large mixing bowl and whisk together briefly until just mixed.
Mix the flour and baking powder together, add to the egg mixture with the beetroot and whisk together until smooth.
Pour into the tin and spread into an even layer.
Arrange the blackberries over the top of the cake mixture in three rows then cook for 30-35 minutes until well risen and a skewer comes out cleanly from the centre.
Leave to cool in the tin.
To decorate, sift the icing sugar into a bowl then gradually stir in the lemon juice to make a smooth icing that will slowly fall from a spoon.
Drizzle the icing over the cake.
Sprinkle with lemon rind removed with a zester or grater, then leave for 30 minutes for the icing to set.
Bring back childhood memories of jelly and custard with these fun looking two tone jellies, a clear fresh tasting strawberry jelly flavoured with cranberry and raspberry juice then topped with a second creamy custard layer.
Pour 150ml (1/4 pint) cranberry and raspberry juice into a small heatproof bowl, sprinkle over 3 teaspoons or 1 packet powdered gelatine and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
Stand the bowl in a saucepan of water and heat for 5 minutes until the gelatine has melted to make a clear liquid.
Stir in the remaining cranberry and raspberry juice then the sliced strawberries.
Spoon into the bases of 6, 250ml (8fl oz) individual jelly moulds, set on a tray.
Allow to cool then freeze for 15 minutes or until the jelly has just set.
Meanwhile, add the water to the rinsed heatproof bowl, sprinkle over the remaining gelatine and leave to soak for 5 minutes.
Stand the bowl in a saucepan of gently simmering water and heat until it makes a clear liquid.
Pour the custard into a bowl, lightly whisk in the cream then the gelatine in a thin steady stream.
Pour this over the set strawberry jelly and chill in the fridge for 6 hours or overnight until set firm.
To serve, dip the moulds into a large dish of hot water, one at a time, count to 10 then lift out of the water, dip a finger in a little water and loosen the top edges of the jelly. Invert jelly mould on to a plate or small cake stand, jerk mould to release jelly then remove mould. Repeat with other jellies then serve.