Tag Archives: strawberries

Recipe: Fierce Strawberries (and tentacle cake)

A while back, one of my Professors welcomed me back from long service leave with a copy of Deceptive Desserts: A Lady’s Guide to Baking Bad, by Christine McConnell.  I was particularly taken by her recipe for Screamberries, and my brother and I originally had evil plans to make this as a birthday cake for Elisabeth’s first birthday (just think of the photos!), but for some reason (possibly because my mother was appalled?) we decided to make the orange and banana cakes instead.

Well, this year, what with one thing and another, it became practical to have my brother’s birthday party and my niece’s both on the same day.  Obviously, this necessitated two cakes, and when I asked my brother what he wanted for this cake, the answer was ‘tentacles’.

So that was easy, then.

I made a few modifications to McConnell’s recipe.  Vanilla mousse seemed boring, so I filled the waffle cups half with vegan chocolate mousse and half with berry mousse.  Stabilised whipped cream seemed like way too much like hard work for a relatively small result, so I didn’t do that.  And my first batch of waffle cones weren’t great, so I had to make another double batch in the hour between getting back from cantoring in Middle Park and leaving for birthday shenanigans in Canterbury.  So I signally failed to follow the instructions and just dumped everything in together.  I can’t claim that they were brilliant waffle cups, but they were fresh and they did the job.

And really, who cared about the waffle cups?  The mousse was delicious, and really, we were all here for the strawberries and the tentacles, right?

Incidentally, you can make this recipe in advance and take the components in separate boxes to wherever you are going, at which point it takes about ten minutes to put together.

Continue reading

Recipe: Italo-Australian Strawberry Trifle

This is one of those recipes that sort of evolved as I wandered along Sydney Road on the weekend, and then started poking around in my pantry at home. 

First, I fell for the beautiful tiny strawberries at La Manna, which were just begging to find their way into a dessert of some sort.  Then, my eyes were seduced by the enormous, glowingly-pink rosewater meringues at Josephine’s.  I pictured a sort of hot pink Eton Mess.  But as I came back from my walk today, I found myself drawn to the beautiful handmade sponge fingers at the Pasticceria on the corner of my street.  So I started thinking trifling thoughts… but trifle is very rich, and I really didn’t feel like making custard – especially when I already had meringues in the house and thus no simple use for all those extra egg whites…

A peek into my fridge, however, reminded me that I still had a bit of low-fat ricotta leftover from another recipe last week, as well as half a tub of mascarpone and a lot of low fat Greek yoghurt.    So that was the creamy part taken care of, though it was a little bit bland… which is when I remembered that I had a sachet of powdered strawberry gum, an Australian native ingredient from a Eucalypt with a sweet, fruity, floral sort of flavour that goes well with strawberries.

All that remained was to find a suitable soaking liquid for the sponge fingers, preferably something not too sweet and not too alcoholic – how fortunate that I had most of a bottle of Wild Dog Natural Produce‘s strawberry vinegar in the house.

The result?  A surprisingly light, fresh-tasting dessert with a wild pink topping.  I am not absolutely certain that the meringue was necessary to this recipe, but it certainly gave it a pizzaz it wouldn’t have had otherwise!  The strawberry gum made the ricotta mascarpone cream rather grey-looking, but the flavour was superb – and it complemented the strawberries beautifully.  I’ll be making this again.


Your Shopping List

100g mascarpone
100 g low fat ricotta
100 g low fat Greek yoghurt
20 g brown sugar
15 ml powdered strawberry gum (optional, but magnificent if you can get it)
6 bit sponge fingers
1/2 cup strawberry vinegar
2 punnets of strawberries (about 400 g once you’ve hulled them)1 teaspoon raw sugar
1 gigantic pink meringue (vanilla, rosewater, raspberry or another berry flavour)

Continue reading

Recipe: Strawberry, Pomegranate and Lemon Herman Cake, with Vegan potential

“Vegan potential?” I hear you ask.  Well, yes.  My Herman cake can never be vegan, because he was drinking cow’s milk when I got him, and even if I started feeding him almond milk or soy milk now, he would always be some tiny portion dairy.  But this Herman cake is egg-free, so if you have a Herman that was raised on non-dairy milks, you could make a vegan cake from him. 

And if you are going to make a vegan Herman, I can really recommend this one.  It’s lovely and tangy from the lemon and pomegranates, but is also lushly strawberry.  Also, you get to play Superfood Bingo, because I’m pretty sure chia seeds, pomegranates and anything sourdough is superfood-ish.  If you used coconut sugar instead of raw caster sugar, all the better.

What more could you want from a cake?


Your Shopping List

2 tbsp white chia seeds
6 tbsp water
1 cup of Herman sourdough starter
2/3 cup raw caster sugar or coconut sugar
2 cups self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup canola oil
zest and juice of two really good lemons
500 g strawberries, hulled, and either halved or quartered, depending on size
2/3 cup (about 50 – 60g freeze-dried pomegranate seeds
Continue reading

Recipe: Foolish Mess

I am posting this recipe solely for the sake of being able to use this title.  Really, who wouldn’t want to eat something with such a silly name?  But it is also a logical name, because Foolish Mess is essentially a cross between Eton Mess and Rhubarb Fool – or it would be if I could bear to use that much cream.  It’s essentially a mixture of yoghurt and whipped cream with puréed rhubarb, fresh strawberries and pieces of meringue.

Which is another way of saying, it’s basically the perfect dessert.  Enjoy.


Your Shopping List

500 g  rhubarb
75 g vanilla sugar
350 g low fat Greek yoghurt
150 g thickened or double cream
150 g strawberries, sliced
50 g meringues, crumbled

Continue reading

Recipe: Strawberry, Lemon and Apricot Cake

You know when you are doubling a recipe, and you think that because you do this all the time you will be totally fine doing this in your head, and then you randomly go and forget to double some ingredients and then, for some mysterious reason, somehow quadruple other ingredients, and this doesn’t even count the fact that you had, in any case, done that usual thing where you take out the icky walnuts and replace them with something random and also don’t measure the lemon zest properly, because seriously, who measures lemon zest?, and also you added extra strawberries because STRAWBERRIES, and…

Yeah, that’s what happened here.  I was wondering why the batter was turning out so oddly, and then, as I was carrying the cakes to work last Thursday morning a little part of my brain went “wait, 15 times 16 is 240, not 480, and definitely not 500, which is what I actually used because I couldn’t be stuffed measuring the butter properly so late at night…”

Oops.  But, as it turns out, doubling the butter just turns the cake from a tea-cake texture into more of a pound cake one, and the whole thing was absolutely delicious, and best of all, I actually get to write up the recipe in my blog, because I assure you, the recipe as I adapted it, both deliberately and inadvertently, is definitely not the recipe in Nicole Routhier’s Fruit Cookbook.  Not by a long way.

So there you go.

Incidentally, this is also why there are very few photos and they are all of the cake in pieces.  I really didn’t think it was going to work.  Sorry.


Your Shopping List

2 cups of plain flour
1 tsp bicarb of soda
2/3 cup chopped dried apricots
2 large eggs
 1/2 cup caster sugar + 1/3 cup for the syrup
250 g unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
zest and juice of two lemons
500 g strawberries, hulled and cut into 1 cm pieces, or thereabouts.

Continue reading

Recipe: Strawberry, Mint and Dark Chocolate Gelato (Vegan!)

I blame FaceBook for this recipe.  I was just minding my own business, girding my loins for the next battle with spreadsheets, when FaceBook reminded me that this is strawberry season, and wouldn’t it be nice to make strawberry ice-cream?  As it happens, I had about three punnets of tiny strawberries in my fridge, waiting for me to think of something clever to do with them, and my first thought was that really easy strawberry frozen yoghurt recipe by David Lebovitz.  A sensible choice for a weeknight.  


Only then for some reason it occurred to me that this frozen yoghurt doesn’t have eggs, therefore it was my clear duty to make it vegan.  (No, I don’t follow that particular leap of logic either.  This is just the sort of thing that happens in my head sometimes.  It can’t be helped.)  Almond milk seemed like the way to go, especially as I love the combination of strawberries with mint, and coconut milk would have been a bit overpowering.  And then I remembered another ice-cream recipe that I have, for fresh mint ice-cream with dark choc chips…

I wanted the smoothness that one gets from making a sorbet-ish syrup, but I also really like the freshness of an uncooked strawberry ice-cream, so I compromised by blending all the strawberries and then taking out half a cup and boiling them into a syrup with the sugar.  Though not very well, as they were determined to erupt from my slightly-too-small saucepan.  The results weren’t quite as smooth as I’d hoped, but the texture was somehow pure gelato.  I have no idea how one makes an actual gelato, but I seem to have reverse-engineered it.

It’s good.

Your Shopping List

700g hulled strawberries (which is about 3 1/2 punnets before you hull them.  You’ll just have to eat the rest.  It’s a hard life.
1 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 cups almond milk
4 sprigs of mint
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp strawberry jam (optional)
100 g good dark chocolate (oh so very compulsory)

Continue reading

Recipe: Green Rainbow Smoothie

thumbLet’s start by admitting one thing about this smoothie: it isn’t green.  Nor is it rainbow coloured.  But it is still a Green Smoothie, because from everything I can see, any smoothie with green leafy stuff in it counts as green.  And it definitely starts looking a bit more swampy after a few hours in the fridge, though that probably isn’t a selling point in most circumstances (it still tastes fine, honest). As for the Rainbow Smoothie side of things, I feel the ingredients speak for themselves:


See? Rainbow.  True, blue is a tad under-represented, but I felt that adding Blue Curaçao to a breakfast smoothie might undermine its credibility in the healthy breakfast stakes. Though the flavour would be quite complementary, if you wanted to go with the Healthy Yet Hair Of The Dog option.  Just saying.  Not that I am advocating alcoholic breakfasts, unless they are pancakes, which are a different matter entirely.

Wow, this recipe went off the rails pretty fast, didn’t it?

Anyway.  I have to admit, 9/10 of the inspiration for this recipe was the ‘hey, I can use lots of colours’ thing, and the other 1/10 was ‘hmm, better use up this kale before it leaves the fridge under its own steam’.

God, this is sounding worse and worse.

It’s actually a pretty nice smoothie, not that I expect you to believe me at this point.  It’s fairly mild in flavour – I was a bit iffy about it at first sip, but liked it more and more the more I drank (and now you really will think I filled it full of Blue Curaçao and truly and honestly I did not, it’s just late on a Thursday night and I’m apparently insane), so the almond milk actually gets to be a bit of a feature rather than just the thing you use to thin out your smoothie, and the banana is a little more present than usual, too.  I’d be inclined to add a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg next time, in fact. 

And no, I really wouldn’t add Blue Curaçao to this.  (Rum would be a much better match for the almondy flavour…) (Stop it, Catherine!)

Your Shopping List

1 small banana
5 smallish kale leaves
90 g blackberries or blueberries, frozen is good
110 g strawberries (you really can fiddle around with the berries a fair bit, though.  This was just the contents of my fridge and freezer)
1/3 cup orange juice, to which you will not add vodka, because this is not that sort of breakfast, what are you thinking?  You might also peel a medium-sized orange, remove most of the pith, and put it all in whole – I would have done this, if I had been able to find a ripe orange on my tree.
1 cup almond milk

Continue reading

Recipe: Strawberry Salad with Fennel and Parmesan

fennelThis is a salad that I’ve made twice recently, prompted by the unexpected availability of strawberries at local markets, along with the more seasonal fennel that is everywhere right now.  It’s inspired by – and quite similar to – a savoury strawberry salad by Michael and Cindy of Where’s the Beef, which is to say, I was sitting there with some strawberries and fennel which I wanted to turn into a salad and was trying to decide what to do next, and then I remembered that Michael and Cindy put parmesan in theirs and realised that this was clearly the ingredient I was missing.  Now I look at their version, I realise that toasted nuts of some kind would indeed have been fabulous, so I encourage you to add these.

Judging by the leftovers we had of this at dinner tonight, I would say you might profitably marinate everything except the salad greens and perhaps the parmesan in the dressing for an hour or so before serving (think balsamic strawberries), and then just toss the greens with everything at the last minute.  But you don’t have to.  It was lovely as is.

Your Shopping List

1/2 a red onion (how does one write that, anyway?  Writing out ‘half’ looks silly in a list, but there’s no doubt about it, 1/2 a red onion looks pretty damn silly too…)
2 tbsp blackberry vinegar, or balsamic vinegar, since I realise that not everyone is lucky enough to have blackberry vinegar, which is a truly sad state of affairs
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, and if it happens to be infused with blood orange, more power to you!
1 medium fennel bulb
375 g beautiful sweet strawberries
150 g mixed salad greens
20 g shaved parmesan
black pepper Continue reading

Recipe: Strawberry, Orange and Blue Curaçao Cupcakes for Ovarian Cancer Morning Teal

icedgroupYou may be getting the impression that my workplace is all about cake, or at the very least, all about morning and afternoon teas.  And… you might well be right.  But, you see, our research covers so many different things, and they all have fundraising days!  And then there’s the fact that a goodly proportion of staff and students are also involved in non-medical-research-related fundraising, and basically the outcome is a lot of morning teas.

It’s dreadful.  I don’t know how I cope.

Anyway, the Division just along the corridor from my two has a lab devoted to ovarian cancer research, so naturally a morning tea was required – or rather (since teal is the ribbon colour for ovarian cancer research), a Morning Teal.

(You know, I can’t help wondering whether all these morning teas are conditioning me to hear ‘cancer’ and immediately think ‘cake!’.  But then, just about everything makes me think ‘cake!’, so my psychology was probably pretty abnormal to start with.)

I’m telling you now, I have never seen so much blue food in the one place in my life.  It was both gorgeous to look at and somewhat disturbing.  I think that, as an Institute, we probably consumed at least two bottles of blue food colouring this morning.  I didn’t notice any personality effects resulting from this, but then, I had my share of food colouring too, so I was probably running with the hyped-up crowd on this one.

Anyway, teal in food terms pretty much means blue curaçao in my book.  My first thought was that evil blue curaçao marshmallow pie I made for Eurovision last year, and indeed, I did make that.  But it is my practice to always make something dairy, egg, gluten, soy and nut-free for these events, because so many of my favourite people at the Institute are allergic to many of these things.  Hence the cupcakes…

I could tell you that these cupcakes are gorgeous and tangy and strawberryish, and strangely friand-like in texture for cupcakes that involve absolutely no nuts.  They are also decidedly teal and mildly alcoholic, icing-wise (though, I must confess, far less so than I’d hoped – but then, the number of people who were told the ingredients for my curaçao tart and kind of went teal themselves contemplating that much alcohol that early in the morning suggests that I covered the alcoholic crowd sufficiently with my alternate offering), but really they speak for themselves.  No, really, they do.  It’s the blue curaçao that does it.  If they aren’t speaking to you before you eat them, eat a few spoonfuls of the icing and the application of wild blue food colouring and high alcohol content to your bloodstream should do the trick…

Your Shopping List

zest and juice of one orange
zest of one lemon (and keep the juice aside, just in case you need it later.  You can always freeze it in an ice-cube tray for future lemon juice needs if you have spare)
1 1/2 cups rice milk
2 tsp raspberry vinegar
2/3 cups canola oil
1 1/3 cups caster sugar
2 punnets (500g un-hulled) strawberries
3 cups gluten-free flour mix (or gluten-free flour from a packet)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb of soda
1/2 cup tofutti cream cheese
1/2 cup nuttelex or other non-dairy margarine
4 cups icing sugar
20 ml blue curacao


Continue reading

Recipe: Pretentious but actually sort of justifiably so strawberries and cream

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)

(No!  Not a shopping list!  This is serendipity – you make the dessert because you have the ingredients, you don’t buy the ingredients to make the dessert…)
Continue reading