Sunday, 8 May 2011


We had some lovely Kiwi guests staying with us last week whose company we enjoyed immensely. A retired bank manager and his wife who had worked for years at a prominent Marlborough vineyard they are on their O.E. [overseas experience] in London...both their children had now settled in London so they decided to come and join them! They are working on the new Olympic Park and spend time travelling around Europe in their exciting time for them and with a great sense of adventure they headed north to the lovely city of Bruge...but not before Geoff had taken the time to weed my overgrown strawberry patch...for which I will be forever grateful...he enjoyed the opportunity to put his hands back in soil after living in an apartment in London. The unseasonally fine run of weather means that the small white flowers are now becoming fruit and we can look forward our first delicious bowl of homegrown strawberries very soon! A much anticipated pleasure for the children who visit and the inspiration for many and varied desserts for guests meals...
Meanwhile we are working with lovely French and Spanish strawberries that have become readily available in the supermarket. The new ice cream maker has been busy churning strawberry ice cream which has become a staple of Liliana's diet...
There are a couple of strawberry recipes that I served regularly last year that are great to be able to revisit...
This Nigel Slater recipe for Strawberry and Mascarpone Tart is a easy delicious end to a BBQ summer meal and always looks pretty to serve. The crunchy biscuit base can be varied depending on what biscuits you have on hand...spicy dutch Speccaloos, almond biscotti, gingernuts or plain vanilla wine....if you have wild strawberries at hand they make a great decorative finish or a few mint leaves do the trick...

STRAWBERRY AND MASCARPONE TART from Nigel Slater's 'The Kitchen Diaries'

 For the filling:
1 large egg
1 tbsp caster sugar
250 gm mascarpone cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
250 gm strawberries

For the crumb base:
75gm melted butter
250 gm almond, tea, orange or ginger biscuits.

1. Crush biscuits by rolling in a bag or in a food processor and then mix with melted butter.
2. Press into square shallow tin lined with foil and put in fridge to set.
3. Separate your egg and then whisk the yolk with the sugar...beat in mascarpone and vanilla.
4. Whisk the egg white till stiff then fold into the mascarpone cream.
5. Place on top of the crumb base and chill till set.
5. Slice strawberries and place neatly on top of the chilled cake.
6. Keep cool till serving then cut into squares....
I have admired Sipi's Strawberry Cake recipe all winter....hanging out for the strawberry season to is a Finnish recipe from my favourite 'Falling Cloudberries'. Last night I was delighted to be able to finally make this gorgeous looking cake and serve it to our Dutch guests and family after another BBQ presented well and summed up all of the things I love about home made cakes...soft, creamy and pretty as a did not disappoint...
SIPI'S STRAWBERRY CAKE  from 'Tessa Kiros' beautiful book 'Falling Cloudberries'

220 1 3/4 c]  gm flour
180 [3/4 c] gm sugar
3 tsp baking powder
180 gm melted butter
185 ml [3/4 c] milk
4 eggs seperated
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 180 deg
2. Mix together the flour, sugar and 1 teaspoon of the baking powder, add the melted butter and warm milk mixing to a lovely batter with a whisk.
3. Add egg yolks and vanilla and beat well.
4. Whisk egg whites till stiff then add the remaining 2 tsp of Baking powder.
5. Fold egg whites into batter. Place in greased and floured tin and bake for about an hour.
6. When ready to eat decorate with whipped cream and strawberries...shake over a little icing sugar and serve can also cut the cake in half horizontally and put together with cream if this takes your fancy.

 Mike has been organising our summer spaces at the house...inspired by the good weather and a long chat with some very interesting Landscape Designers that we had visiting last week...the two men were on a road trip in Robert's fancy fast Aston annual event in order to get the car out of the garage to justify it's existence to his wife who finds the car too low and too noisy and refuses to get in it!! They were fun company over dinner and it was nice that they enjoyed the house...we hope to see them again!

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