... whilst living in the 21st century means we have access to an incredible array of produce from all over the globe it also means we put pressure on producers to deliver food that simply wouldn't naturally be available and more than it's effect on the environment I think this has effected our attitude towards food in a negative way... and it's slowly crept upon us over the past decade or so... i'm not going to lecture you here on autumnal peruvian asparagus but the point i'd like to make is that our acceptance of this year-round abundance is an acceptance in what I think is a decline in quality and therefor taste...
... take the humble strawberry... this juicy, plump, bright red little berry, in my opinion should come to you firm, sweet but with a slightly tart edge to it that really brings out its flavour and if you're lucky enough to have access to a pick-your-own farm or a supermarket that stocks them locally and seasonally in June and July then you'll know exactly what i'm talking about... but now we've reached the end of August the shelves are still being stocked with inferior, dark red, funky berries that simply shouldn't be... and whilst we should all stop purchasing them to prove to the 'market' that we don't want these inferior products i'm not sure my influence is that strong... so there's only one thing to do with these little beasts and that's cook with them...
so I was making traditional vanilla egg custard ice cream last weekend which meant I had egg whites and we all know that this means it's meringue time... I wanted to experiment with adding the strawberry puree into the egg white mix to see what would happen and i'm very pleased with the results. The meringue is crispy and golden on the outside because I used golden caster sugar but on the inside they are a soft and stunning shade of rosy pink with dark red flecks, every mouthful a little surprise of colour... I added a little puree to the cream and a dash of rosewater too just for something special...
for the strawberry puree
1 punnet of strawberries (roughly 15 strawberries) - hulled and chopped
2 tablespoons caster sugar
for the meringue
3 large free-range egg whites
175g golden caster sugar
a pinch of salt
for the cream
150ml fresh whipping cream
1 teaspoon rosewater
pre-heat the oven to 140C and line a large baking tray with parchment
start with the puree by blending the strawberries with the sugar using one of those hand-held thingies - set aside
in a large, clean bowl beat the egg whites until medium hard peaks are formed, then add the sugar a tablespoon at a time beating in between each addition, until you have firm, glossy peaks - gently fold in 3 tablespoons of the strawberry puree but don't mix it completely
feel free to pipe the meringue into fancy swirls but if you're impatient and shaky like me then go for a 'rustic' look... simply dollop generous sized mounds of the stuff onto the baking tray and pop into the oven for 35 minutes at which point you switch off the oven and leave the meringues and oven to cool
when you're ready to serve simply whip the cream to a thick consistency, fold in another two tablespoons of puree and a little rose water and use this to sandwich to pieces of meringue together... I got 7 sandwiches out of this recipe
drizzle with the remaining puree and serve
eat and of course, enjoy!