As July rolls into August and the temperature (hopefully) rises to a point where we look forward to weekends at the beach, a few hours in a shaded forest picnic area, or even just a lazy afternoon in the back garden, we should take a step down memory lane and remember the first time we tasted that most British of summer fruits; the strawberry.
If, like me, your memories take you back to endless fields of low growing plants and cardboard punnets overflowing with ripe, red berries, then you know there is no better taste than a freshly picked British strawberry, and the evidence would be smattered around your face as your parents would embarrassingly try and pay for their half empty baskets. Not for the first time did I hear the joke that it was I that should have been weighed on entering and leaving at the Pick Your Own exit.
What used to be a six or seven week race against time to harvest these succulent morsels has now, with the aid of better protection from plastic poly-tunnels, turned into a six month long growing extravaganza that even the worst of the famous UK’s summer weather fails to significantly damage. So why not take advantage of this longer growing season and keep the taste of the summer flowing through your menus with these five great strawberry dishes. Remember it’s not all about desserts; strawberries are a fruit ripe for any occasion.
With the UK harking back to the halcyon days of the ‘40s and ‘50s, just look at the spate of movies that have hit our screens recently; Dad’s Army, Swallows and Amazons etc, then what more nostalgic way to drum up a breakfast for the baby boomers than crumpets with strawberries. Add a dessert spoon of natural yoghurt, crumble a few walnuts over and drizzle with honey to turn a classic into a masterpiece of taste and texture that will keep any of the Famous Five full to lunchtime.
If you want to Americanise this classic breakfast, all you have to do is swap the crumpet for waffles or pancakes, and the honey for maple syrup and you are good to go.
BRUNCH – SNACK TIME
Smoothies may not normally be on your menu but why not offer a blended iced, strawberry smoothie as a quick fix for those pre-thunderstorm hours when the only thing willing to move is the sweat that trickles down your back. The cool, sweet liquid is a sure fire hit in the heat and will get the all important thumbs up with the kids as well.
We all know that BBQ rules at this time of year, so look at combining the taste of the outside grill within your kitchen. To counter the smoky flavours and ubiquitous hickory dip style sauces, take a chance on creating a sweet salad that provides the perfect balance of flavour, crunch and colour. Be bold with a stunning yet simple, pecan and strawberry salad tossed with a formidable vinaigrette that adds a little extra bite. Fully coat the pecans in a brown sugar and egg white mix before baking for extra candy style taste, then make the vinaigrette of your choice before tossing it all together with green leaf salad and whole and sliced strawberries – truly delicious.
Melt dark chocolate and dip in your strawberries before leaving to one side to cool. Serve with a fruity bubbly rosé and avoid the mess and schlock factor of the overused chocolate fountain.
DID SOMEONE SAY ALCOHOL?
A wonderful summer evening deserves a wonderful summer cocktail and a frozen strawberry daiquiri ticks all the boxes.
Blend ice cubes with five fresh strawberries, a large measure of white rum, half a measure of strawberry liqueur, a teaspoon of sugar syrup and a dash of lime juice, until smooth. Serve in a goblet or martini glass and garnish with a sliced fresh strawberry.
Is there any better way to end a summer’s evening?
What's your favourite way of enjoying the delicious British Strawberry?