We’re fortunate in Australia that we can get most produce all year round. Having said that, I’m not sure that I’ve ever enjoyed strawberries as much as I do here on the Sunshine Coast. I think it has less to do with where I’m eating them as how we’re buying them and eating them.
These days our berries come from the farmer’s markets, not the supermarket. They haven’t been in cold storage or treated with whatever it is that fruit is treated with to make it last until it hits the supermarket shelves. The berries we bought this week were picked by the grower the previous day – and taste more strawberryish (I made that word up) than any strawberry has the right to taste.
Although the Queensland strawberry season is now approaching it’s end, while they’ve been so affordable – we’ve been paying $5 a kilo, sometimes less – I’ve been buying up and popping them in little bags in the freezer. Miss T has smoothies for breakfast most mornings and loves frozen berries and frozen bananas in it. She makes a good smoothie.
I also have them most mornings for breakfast, but with passionfruit, unsweetened yoghurt and a handful of nutty gluten free crunch. All local, all fresh, all tasty.
Of course I’ve also been using the berries in desserts. I’ve already told you about the cranachan, but limoncello strawberries is also worth a go – and tastes like Spring in a bowl.
Hull and quarter 400g strawberries and pop them in a small saucepan with 2 tablespoons caster sugar, 2 tablespoons limoncello, and 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar. Bring them to the boil over a high heat and then, once the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat to low, add a small handful of finely chopped mint, and simmer for 2- 3 minutes. The fruit should be soft, but not mushy.
Drain the mixture, reserving the syrup and putting the strawberries aside for later. Return the syrup to the pan and place over medium heat, simmering until it’s reduced by half. Pour over the strawberries and leave to cool completely. You can serve it with whipped cream or a combo of whipped cream and mascarpone. Strawberries and cream – but not as you know it.
Speaking of strawberries and cream, another really fun way to enjoy them is to place a bowl of strawberries, a bowl of mascarpone, and a bowl of brown sugar on the table and let people dip away.
Then, of course, there’s the trifle.
In our house trifles are hubby’s domain. He makes one once a year – for Christmas. He uses aeroplane jelly mix and cut up sponge cake. It’s a bit of a Christmas classic, so when I suggested making one for dessert, I was met with horrified faces. I had to promise that my trifle was going to be completely different and represented no attempted takeover of the Christmas trifle. I’ve got better things to do with my time at Christmas.
For a start, there’s no powdered jelly mix in sight.
To make the jelly you’ll need:
- 500g mixed berries. I used 150g blueberries and the rest was strawberries.
- Juice and grated rind of an orange
- ¼ cup caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3 gelatine leaves. I used titanium strength – it’s a lot, but you need the jelly to be firm enough to hold the sponge fingers, custard and cream.
Place everything except the gelatine in a saucepan and pretty much do what you did for the limoncello berries (above) ie bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer – for about 5-6 minutes.
While the berries are simmering, soften the gelatine leaves in cold water. This should take about 5 minutes.
Squeeze the excess water out of the squidgy gelatine and add it to the hot berry mix. Stir until it’s dissolved, and set aside to cool for an hour before pouring into your trifle bowl – or bowls, if you’re being fancy schmancy. Put into the fridge to set for a couple of hours.
Once the jelly is set arrange some sponge fingers across the top, drizzle with sherry, and top with custard. Of course you can make your own – but I was lazy and bought the dollop sort from the supermarket. Then it’s just a matter of spooning on some whipped cream and decorating with more berries.
Because it’s Thursday, it’s also time to get our happy on with the Lovin’Life linky.
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