The weather over the past week has forced me into a difficult decision. Is it barbecue time, or possibly a piece on the versatility of salad? But a delivery of fresh Irish strawberries into the restaurant quickly made up my mind. Is there any fruit to herald the beginning of summer superior to a fresh sun ripened strawberry? In the middle of winter it’s not uncommon to come across, in the shops, these hard lumps of things that look like strawberries but taste of something far removed from a sweet Irish-grown berry. Especially when topped off with a little whipped dairy cream, no chef can better strawberries and cream. Strawberries grow particularly well in Ireland, and more so during the rare sunny summers. They ripen a little slower than on the continent, developing high sugar content.
Recently there was a trend towards the cultivation of poor eating quality strawberries. These varieties may have been suited to jam making but they were a disappointment when eaten fresh. Happily, sweeter varieties are making their way back onto the shelves. The wild strawberry is still unfortunately a rare sight in Ireland. This very small and delicate fruit simply bursts with flavour, and is well worth tracking down.
A simple recipe for strawberries might include a simple strawberry ice cream.
1kg fresh Irish strawberries, crushed up with a fork
1kg crème fraiche
150g icing sugar
Simply mix the ingredients together, place into an ice-cream machine, and blend till frozen. Alternatively place blended mixture into the deep freeze and blend every 30 minutes as the ice-cream is freezing.
This recipe is very simple but looks and tastes great.
Slice the tops off a couple of oranges and scoop out the flesh. Squeeze the orange flesh to obtain the juice. Chop enough strawberries to fill the oranges which were scooped out. Mix with the orange juice and add a little Curacao and sugar. Refill the oranges and allow chill in the refrigerator. Serve on a bed of crushed ice.