I try not to do the foodie thing, really. I mean, I don’t try to avoid the totally obsessed with food thing, because I am absolutely in favour of that, but the organic quail eggs with sea salt drifting like snowflakes over a bed of ethically raised zombie truffles (now you know why they smell like that) thing is a bit much for me. Good food is one of the great pleasures of life, and making it into a source of one-upmanship and anxiety is, I think, against its life-giving spirit. And now I sound like I’m inventing some strange food-based religion, though one could argue that food is in fact central to most religions, not least because it is life-giving, and I got 5 hours of sleep last night so I really need to get this post under control before it rambles off into theology land. Though a food philosophy post may be on the agenda soon.
ANYWAY. Having said all that, this recipe is a bit food-snobby, because it really does require truly wonderful ingredients. I’m sorry, but there’s no way around it – when there are only three main ingredients in this recipe, and basically no method, those three ingredients have to be really, really good. So this isn’t a recipe to make with strawberries that are kind of blah but you are in a strawberryish sort of mood – it’s a recipe to make because you found these amazing strawberries and (ideally) lovely, fresh cream today at the market or the greengrocer or maybe even the supermarket, and you want to just sit back and let them do their thing without interference, because their thing is wonderful.
Of course, I will fiddle around and give this recipe a few frills, because that’s who I am – I like to sprinkle my berries with just a splash of kirsch or strawberry syrup or raspberry liqueur, but it’s fine if you don’t have those things. And I think strawberries and cream want something a bit crunchy and waferish to go with them, but again, this is just decoration. And speaking of decoration, everything tastes better when you pile it into a tall sundae glass and sprinkle it with little edible stars. Or grated chocolate. Or what you will…
Your Shopping List (makes 3 glorious servings)
Now what will you do with it?
I’ve sort of told you that already, haven’t I? Wash your berries, hull them and halve or quarter them if they are big. If you are using kirsch or something of that nature, sprinkle it over the strawberries in a bowl and set aside.
Whip the cream with a tablespoon of the vanilla sugar until it sits up nicely but isn’t hard – you want a softly dolloping texture, not something you can pipe with. But if you end up with something pipeable, don’t fret – it will still be good. (The secret advantage of aiming for dollopy cream is that if you overdo it, you will still have whipped cream, not butter. Not that there is anything wrong with making butter, but buttered strawberries are unlikely to catch on in the near future).
Taste the cream and decide whether you think it needs more vanilla sugar. If so, stir or beat it in – this really is a personal taste thing, but I don’t think cream needs to be that sweet in this context.
Get out three tall sundae glasses, if you have them, or little glass dessert bowls if not. If you have sundae glasses, you should be able to start with a layer of strawberries and then alternate with cream to get three layers of each – it will probably be two of each in a bowl.
Decorate, if desired, with crostoli and silver stars, or anything else that appeals to you. Silver stars make everything better. And less pretentious, too.
I think I pretty much covered this in the ingredients list! But feel free to suggest your own. Having said that, I will definitely be trying that almond cream in the near future.
Oh and if your strawberries are ordinary, but you really, really need strawberries now, give balsamic strawberries a try – it’s amazing how balsamic vinegar and sugar can brighten up a bland berry.
This time last year…