Whether a perfect summer day for you means kite flying, flea marketing or just napping in a hammock by the lake, we guarantee that a sweet addition to such sublime hours is a dish overflowing with fresh strawberries and cream. For centuries, the pairing has been a favourite of everyone from humble farmers to aristocratic lords and lasses. And while the combination is firmly planted in the province of the rich (witness its appearance on the menu each year at England's Wimbledon tennis championships), it is also a great food equalizer - universally available to everyone who can walk a patch of wild berries and pick up a pint of milk. Today, pick-your-own patches spring up like dandelions come the warm weather, and organic cream, with its full taste, is just as plentiful. Just now, in fact, locally grown fruit is at its juiciest and most flavourful, with the tart refreshment of the berries tempered by the smooth richness of the cream. We've wasted no time in preparing too-good-to-resist recipes just right for indulging at breakfast, mid-afternoon or as the sun sets.
Pick-your-own strawberry patches are everywhere in early summer. To find a location near you, visit www.pickyourown.org.
Strawberry Pavlova (shown above)
2/3 cup pasteurized egg whites (about 4 large egg whites)
1 cup superfine sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
2 tsp cornstarch
1 pint fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
2 tbsp framboise liqueur
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup 35% cream
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whip egg whites in the bowl of an electric stand mixer until soft peaks form. Setting the mixer on high speed, gradually add the superfine sugar 1 tbsp at a time, until the egg whites hold glossy, stiff peaks (this should take about 3 or 4 minutes).
Add in the white vinegar and cornstarch, blending just until mixture is combined.
Spoon six fluffy 4-inch circles of meringue onto the lined baking sheet. They should be high and pillowy. Using a round soup spoon, gently form a little indentation in the top of each meringue, being careful not to deflate them too much.
Place baking sheet in the centre rack of oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 200°F and continue to bake for another 45 minutes. The meringues will be pale golden and dry on the outside, but still soft on the inside. Allow to cool completely before taking them off the parchment papeer.
Gently toss the prepared strawberries with the framboise and the sugar.
Whip the cream in a chilled bowl until thick but still soft. Place a dollop of whipped cream into the centre of each meringue nest and top with the fresh strawberry mixture.