I didn’t realise strawberries with rosemary was a particularly classic combination but on consulting the oracle that is Google I see cooks all over the world are pairing them. This is the first time I’ve tried them together and I think they make a brilliant partnership, especially in this spectacularly simple ice cream sundae.
And with rosemary biscotti being a bit of a winner on last week’s Great British Bake Off, I think rosemary biscuits could turn out to be rather trendy. Not that I keep up with cooking trends in the slightest. I’m always a tad late to the party on that score. I only tried matcha for the first time a couple of months ago, while coconut oil made its first appearance in my cooking just the other day.
But back to those sundaes…
I made the rosemary shortbread to accompany the Rich Clotted Cream ice cream we brought home with us from our recent visit to the marvellous Marshfield Farm. My kids demanded sundaes and as I’m the biggest sucker around for ice cream piled high in a tall glass, who was I to refuse? Strawberries were the obvious choice to go with clotted cream and shortbread seemed the obvious choice for strawberries. And then the rosemary outside the back door called to me, and this sundae was born. Continue reading “Strawberry ice cream sundaes with rosemary shortbread”→
Ever since my step-mum Sue took me for an ice cream soda in the restaurant at Peter Jones in London’s Sloane Square, I’ve been in love with this heavenly combination of fizzy pop (soda), ice cream and syrup. Something simply magical happens when the ice cream hits the fizz and I am instantly transported to seventh heaven. Throw in some of my current favourite ingredient, rose water, and wow – I am in ecstasy.
I have fantasies of one day opening my very own retro soda fountain with mini juke boxes on the counter playing Chantilly Lace and True Love Ways, and this Strawberry & Rose Ice Cream Soda will definitely be featuring on the menu.
It’s every so easy to make. I did use homemade strawberry ice cream (from a Ben & Jerry’s recipe), with gorgeous chunks of juicy strawberries, but of course you can always use shop-bought. But do please make your own strawberry and rose syrup. It takes hardly anytime at all and tastes incredible.
Strawberry & Rose Ice Cream Soda
1 litre bottle lemonade, chilled
For the strawberry ice cream
250g fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
330g caster sugar
Juice of half a lemon
2 large eggs
480ml double cream
Mix together the chopped strawberries, 100g of the caster sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.
Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Whisk in the remaining 230g of sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended. Pour in the cream and milk and whisk until thoroughly combined.
Take the strawberries from the fridge and mash to create a chunky puree. Stir this into the egg/cream mixture.
Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer’s instructions. Alternatively, transfer to a plastic container and place in the freezer for around four hours, remembering to give it a good stir every hour to break up any ice crystals that are forming.
For the strawberry and rose syrup
200g fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
50g caster sugar
1 tsp rose water
Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer gently for around 5 minutes until the strawberries are soft and the sugar has melted. Puree with a hand blender. If you like you can strain the puree through a fine-meshed sieve to remove the seeds. I must admit, I couldn’t be bothered with this stage.
For the ice cream soda
Pour a little strawberry and rose syrup into a tall glass. Add a couple of scoops of strawberry ice cream to the glass, followed by cold lemonade. I love the way it froths up at this point!
Drizzle with a little more syrup to finish. Armed with a straw and a long spoon, you’re good to go. Enjoy!
I think I may have a new addiction. I simply can’t seem to get enough of it at the moment and I am obsessing over new ways to use it to enjoy another fix. Thankfully my new addiction isn’t harmful, although I’ve learnt it is wise to use it sparingly (a little goes a long way), and it won’t result in any lasting damage to my health or nasty side effects. Well, not as far as I’m aware anyway…
My latest foodie addiction is rosewater. Isn’t it the most heavenly ingredient? That heady, evocative perfume, mirrored so closely by that same wonderfully floral, fragrant flavour; it really is a magical and fantastical foodstuff that transports you instantly to star-swept scenes from the Arabian Nights.
Ever since my husband bought some to create Yotam Ottolenghi’s sublime Roast Chicken with Saffron, Hazelnuts & Honey (inspired in turn by another culinary idol, Claudia Roden), I’ve been dreaming up different ways to feature rosewater in our cooking.
This Raspberry, Strawberry and Rose Millefeuille was my first experiment and it was a brilliant success, even if I say so myself. Using ready-made puff pastry, it’s deceptively easy to make too, yet looks quite impressive when you serve it up for your eagerly awaiting guests.
Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment and sprinkle with caster sugar. Lay the pastry onto the baking parchment, scatter with more sugar and cover with more parchment. Place another baking sheet on top, and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden-brown. Leave to cool.
For the filling, pour the cream and rosewater into a large bowl. Whisk until the cream forms soft peaks. Fold the strawberries and raspberries into the cream and then place in the fridge.
When the puff pastry is completely cool, use a sharp knife to trim the edges to form a tidy rectangle, and cut this into three equal rectangles. Place one rectangle of pastry on a plate and cover with half of the cream and fruit. Place the second layer of pastry on top and press down very gently. Top with the remaining cream mix and then place the final layer of pastry on top. Again press down gently squeeze the filling to the edges. Run a palette knife around the sides to level out the filling.
Chill until ready to serve. Liberally sprinkle the top with icing sugar and then very carefully cut the millefeuille into six elegant slices.
For all the latest food blogger challenges, events, giveaways and competitions, do make sure you head over to the Food Blog Diary, overseen by Jac at Tinned Tomatoes, Karen at Lavender & Lovage and Stuart at Cakeyboi. It’s a brilliant resource and a vital tool for all food bloggers everywhere!
We slurp our way through a fair few smoothies in our house. They’re the perfect way to use up ripe bananas, especially when it’s way too hot to consider baking banana bread, and they are a brilliantly healthy start to the day. Although saying that, quite often our smoothies are rather indulgent, especially when my husband makes them with lots of vanilla ice cream.
This strawberry and honey super smoothie is of the healthy variety. It features a couple of spoonfuls of rolled oats, making it extra thick and creamy and perfect for a fuel-filled breakfast.
And of course they’re ridiculously easy to make, which is essential first thing in the morning.
Simply pop all the ingredients into your food blender and whizz until smooth and frothy. That’s it.
Serve alongside your bowl of cereal or dippy eggs and soldiers for a top brekkie.
Because these super smoothies are so easy to rustle up and contain this month’s trio of ingredients (honey, oats and berries), I’m entering them into the Recipes for Life challenge, which I also happen to be hosting.
July is the penultimate month for Recipes for Life. Each month we challenge food bloggers to create tasty, healthy and easy-to-make dishes using three key ingredients.
I’m running the challenge on behalf of a brilliant charity called SWALLOW, which supports adults with learning difficulties. Their cookery club will have a go at making the recipes themselves and the best ones will be included in a new cookbook later in the year.
Perhaps you’d like to get involved in the challenge? Find out more here.
I clearly remember my Dad telling me one summer holidays when I was staying with him in London that he wanted to introduce me to someone special: his girlfriend, Sue. I was about seven or eight years old. I remember being taken completely by surprise but I couldn’t wait to meet her. Particularly because she had hand-sewn me the most exquisite little doll. When I met her, I thought she was a bit like a princess with her long brown hair and her beautiful dresses. Rather like her doll!
For some reason, it wasn’t until I had my first child that it dawned on me how significant a role Sue had played in my childhood. It’s quite common I think for women not to acknowledge what their mothers have done for them until they have their own children. The same was true for me. I saw both my Mum and Sue in new lights.
Whenever I came to stay in London with my Dad during the school holidays, Sue would always make a huge effort with me. We baked together, she helped me make my own dresses, she taught me to play the recorder, she’d take me into the Chelsea Playground where she worked, and we’d play endless games – picture consequences was a particular favourite of mine.
I was 12-years-old when I came to live permanently with my Dad and Sue in London. My twin sisters were just a year old. For me it was all a big adventure; moving to London, getting a new bedroom, starting a new school and meeting new friends. I really never thought about what a massive impact this must have had on Sue’s life: bringing a near-teenager into your home when your hands are already very much full with two little babies. I can’t imagine many people would put themselves forward for that. I’m not sure if I’ve ever said a proper thank you to Sue for this. So, thank you. I’ll say it properly in person when I next see you!
And all this is why I’m so pleased Sue has entered this cake into TACT’s Care to Cook family recipe challenge. Because Sue knows a thing or two about family and welcoming young people into her home.
Over to Sue for her very special Strawberries and Cream Birthday Cake…
Since I first made this cake one June to celebrate my twin daughters’ birthday – or should that be birthdays? – I’ve made it almost every year. Often we waited for their birthday to have the first strawberries of the year – all the better for the waiting! When they were away at university it was something to have when they returned home.
We may not have it quite so often these days but this year – when Lottie returned from Spain and met up with her sister, Maura in London – we shared it again. Cakes are often part of getting together as a family and seem to signify special times or celebrations often becoming a bit of a family tradition. Cranberry muffins on Christmas morning whilst we open the presents is another one in our house.
But as it’s summer and strawberries are still good here goes.
(The Victoria sandwich recipe here is based on one of Mary Berry’s. My mother gave me a copy of book of her cake recipes and it’s one of the most used in the house – much splattered and stained to prove it!)
Strawberries and Cream Birthday Cake
4 free-range medium eggs
225g caster sugar
225g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
225g baking spread, margarine or soft butter at room temperature (or a combination of the two to make the same amount) plus a little extra to grease the tins
For the filling and topping:
At least one punnet of ripe strawberries – some sliced in half (for between the layers), the rest left whole
300ml whipped double cream
450g strained Greek yogurt and whipped cream (see below)
mint leaves for decoration
Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.
If using tins rather than silicone cake moulds, grease and line two 20cm sandwich tins: use a piece of baking or silicone paper to rub a little baking spread or butter around the inside of the tins until the sides and base are lightly coated. Line the bottom of the tins with a circle of baking or silicone paper; to do this, draw around the base of the tin onto the paper and cut out.
Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl, then add the sugar, flour, baking powder and baking spread.
Mix everything together until well combined. The easiest way to do this is with an electric hand mixer, but you can use a wooden spoon. Put a damp cloth under your bowl when you’re mixing to stop it moving around. Be careful not to over-mix – as soon as everything is blended you should stop. The finished mixture should be of a soft ‘dropping’ consistency – it should fall off a spoon easily.
Divide the mixture evenly between the tins: this doesn’t need to be exact, but you can weigh the filled tins if you want to check. Use a spatula to remove all of the mixture from the bowl and gently smooth the surface of the cakes.
Place the tins on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Don’t be tempted to open the door while they’re cooking, but after 20 minutes do look through the door to check them.
The cakes are done when they’re golden-brown and coming away from the edge of the tins. Press them gently to check – they should be springy to the touch. Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool in their tins for five minutes. Then run a palette or rounded butter knife around the inside edge of the tin and carefully turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack.
To take your cakes out of the tins without leaving a wire rack mark on the top, put the clean tea towel over the tin, put your hand onto the tea towel and turn the tin upside-down. The cake should come out onto your hand and the tea towel – then you can turn it from your hand onto the wire rack.
Set aside to cool completely.
Whip the double cream until thick and stiff. At this point I fold some thick, strained Greek yogurt into the cream; it takes away a little of the richness and makes for a lighter cake. I usually use two-parts cream and one-part yogurt but you can decide on what proportions you prefer.
To assemble the cake, place one cake upside down onto a plate and spread with about half of the cream mixture. Then arrange the halved strawberries on top – you want to cover the entire surface. Place the next layer of sponge on top – add a little more of the cream if the top layer won’t stick to the bottom one.
Spread the rest of the cream mixture on top and crown with the whole strawberries to cover. Arrange them so that they look pretty.
I adore smoothies. They’re so easy to make and, for me, they constitute the perfect breakfast on those days when I don’t really fancy eating all that much. They’re great for kids when they’re feeling poorly and off their food. And this particular super smoothie, with the addition of oats, is an ideal post-run drink to give me a much-needed energy boost when I’m absolutely exhausted.
Peanut butter and jelly (jam to us Brits) is the most wonderful combination. I think I could probably live on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches if I could get away with it. It also works really well in this super smoothie. With the oats and banana it makes for quite a substantial smoothie; pretty much a meal in a glass.
While I’d usually use milk and yoghurt in my smoothies, I’ve come up with this recipe for Blue Diamond using their unsweetened Almond Breeze almond milk. It’s free of sugars and has less than half the calories of skimmed dairy milk and half the calories of soya milk, which makes it a great alternative for those wanting to avoid dairy and/or live a healthier lifestyle.
Happy Fourth of July! Yes, it’s American Independence Day and so in honour of our cousins over the pond, here is my recipe for a baked American-style cheesecake.
I adore baked cheesecakes – the way the top is all cakey, soft and crumbly while the inside is sumptuously creamy and quite decadent. Matched with the crunchy biscuit base and sweet fruit on the side, what more could you ask for in a pud?
Lightly grease a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin and line with greaseproof paper.
Put the crushed biscuits, butter and Demerara sugar into a bowl and mix well. Spread over the base of the tin and press down well. Place in the fridge for half an hour to set.
Into a large bowl measure the butter, caster sugar, cream cheese, corn flour, salt, lemon zest, vanilla extract and egg yolks and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Then fold in the lightly whipped cream.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff and then carefully fold into the cheesy mixture using a large metal spoon.
Pour the cheese mixture onto the chilled biscuit base.
Bake in the oven for about an hour until set. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in there for another hour to cool.
If like me you have an Aga, then bake in the roasting oven on the shelf on the floor with the cold plain shelf on the second set of runners. Bake for 20 minutes until the top is pale golden. Transfer the cold plain shelf to the middle of the simmering oven and place the cheesecake on this. Bake for another 20-30 minutes. Thanks to Mary Berry for the Aga baking advice!
Remove the cheesecake from the oven and cool in the tin. Carefully run a knife around the edge, lift out from the tin and remove the greaseproof paper.
Serve with your favourite berries – I went for strawberries – I am eating it in Britain after all!
Lots of people have been talking about strawberries and rhubarb making a winning combination, so when my lovely friend Sarah gave me a big bunch of rhubarb from her garden the other week, I thought it was about time I found out what all the fuss is about.
They weren’t wrong. Sweet strawberries are the perfect foil for the tartness of rhubarb. And for me the creamy tanginess of a lemon tart provides a perfect base for this fruit frenzy.
Alright, I have to admit though my strawberry, rhubarb and lemon tart isn’t the prettiest pudding around. Presentation, particularly when it comes to sweet things, isn’t always my strong point. And I did slightly over-colour the pastry. But then, I am a home cook after all. As long as it tastes good, then I’m happy. Very happy in fact.
Strawberry, rhubarb and lemon tart
For the pastry case
125g soft butter
100g icing sugar
Pinch of salt
250g plain flour
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp milk
600g rhubarb, chopped into inch-long chunks
6 tbsp granulated sugar
Splash orange juice
400g strawberries, hulled and quartered
170g caster sugar
170ml double cream
Juice and grated zest of 3 lemons
Start by making the pastry. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, icing sugar and salt. Then add the flour and egg yolks and rub in until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the milk and work together to form a dough.
Wrap the dough in cling film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4.
Grease a 30cm tart dish. Roll out the pastry into a large circle and carefully line the dish, pressing the pastry into the edges and making sure it comes fully up the sides. You may need to do some patching up here and there – I always do.
Blind bake the empty tart for 15 minutes until the pastry is coloured ever so slightly. Then leave to one side while you prepare the filling.
Place the chopped rhubarb in a saucepan with 4 tablespoons of granulated sugar and a splash of orange juice and heat gently. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the rhubarb is tender but still has a little bite in it.
In a bowl, scatter 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar over the chopped strawberries and gently mix together.
Whisk together the caster sugar and eggs in a large bowl and then stir in the cream, lemon juice and zest.
Spoon the strawberries into the middle of your pastry tart and arrange the cooked rhubarb around this. Then pour over the creamy lemon mixture and carefully transfer this to your oven. You should do here as proper chefs suggest and pour in the mixture when the tart is already in the oven to reduce spillage, but I invariably forget this bit and have to mop the floor afterwards.
Bake for around 45 minutes until the filling is firm but still has a little wobble to it, and if you can (unlike me) catch it before the pastry turns too dark around the edges. But hey, don’t worry if it does. My dad always told me the burned bits were good for your insides.
Leave to cool for an hour or so while the filling sets some more. Serve with some vanilla ice cream or a dollop of creme fraiche.
I’m entering this tart into the Tea Time Treats blog challenge hosted by What Kate Baked and Lavender & Lovage, as the theme this month is Summer Fruits. As Wimbledon approaches, what fruit could better represent the British idea of summer than the ubiquitious strawberry?