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Tag: strawberry

A Summery Berry and Bacon Panzanella with Rosemary

Berry and Bacon Panzanella

A Tuscan Panzanella salad had been on my mind for weeks, I could clearly picture the colourful composition: Dark red cherries, crunchy bacon, crisp arugula (rucola), and chunks of spongy ciabatta dripping with olive oil and thick Balsamico vinegar and then sprinkled with woody rosemary. I was just waiting for the fruits to arrive at my Turkish vegetable shop around the corner.

Unfortunately, the day I planned to throw the salad together, my trusted vegetable man didn’t have cherries and – what worried me even more – the weather was dull and grey. The first problem was easily solved, I replaced sweet cherries with even juicier strawberries, blueberries, and figs, which made the whole thing even more mushy and luscious. It tasted great, but the soggy look made it rather difficult to catch a pretty picture. Even more so as they just put scaffolding in front of my kitchen window, which means the light situation in this room is far from ideal.

In these moments I always know why I love food so much and why photography, sometimes, drives me crazy. Food either tastes good or it doesn’t, of course it should look appetizing, but I believe what tastes good also looks good. But photography has its own rules and mysteries, to be able to capture a dish’s yumminess in a picture, the conditions need to be right, especially the light. So please, when you look at the pictures in today’s post, think of summery-sweet fruit juices, porky saltiness crisped in the pan, the freshness of green leaves, and the confidence of Mediterranean rosemary. Buon appetito!

Berry and Bacon Panzanella

Berry and Bacon Panzanella with Rosemary

Serves 2-4

For the dressing

olive oil 3 tablespoons
Balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon
white Balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon
fresh rosemary, very finely chopped, about 2 teaspoons
fine sea salt
ground pepper

For the Panzanella

olive oil
bacon 4 slices
arugula (rucola) or mixed lettuce leaves, torn, a large handful
ciabatta or rustic white loaf, cut into chunks, 2 large handfuls
strawberries, cut in half, a handful
blueberries, a handful
figs, quartered, 2

For the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together and season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the Panzanella, heat a small splash of olive oil in a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook for a few minutes on both sides until crispy and golden brown. Take the bacon out of the pan, let it cool for a few minutes, and break into large pieces.

In a large bowl, spread the greens and lay the chunks of bread on top. Arrange the fruits and bacon on top of the bread and pour the dressing all over the Panzanella. Serve immediately, preferably for lunch, accompanied by a glass of white or rosé wine, and think of your next holiday.

Berry and Bacon Panzanella

 

Berry and Bacon Panzanella

 

Berry and Bacon Panzanella

 

Berry and Bacon Panzanella

Chorizo and Strawberry Bruschetta with Basil

Chorizo and Strawberry Bruschetta with Basil

I found a new duo that comes close to perfection: chorizo and strawberry. It’s an unexpected match, the fruity sweetness and slightly hot, porky sausage merge beautifully, as if they had just been waiting to meet.

It started as a quick snack while we were cooking, we filled our glasses with our favourite summer wine and looked in the fridge to see what we could nibble on while chopping and stirring the ingredients for our dinner. The red sausage and berries caught my man’s attention and – in these moments he’s a little more brave than me – he sandwiched them and stuffed a rather large portion of it in my mouth. We immediately discussed what we could do with this new find. A salad? I’m not a big fan of meat in my salad. Pasta? I don’t like the combination of pasta and strawberries. I tried it, but it just tastes wrong. An open sandwich seemed like the right answer, a golden Italian bruschetta drizzled with good olive oil, crowned with thick slices of the peppery salami and juicy berries. Some fresh basil, salt, and pepper, and you have the perfect snack for summer on your plate.

Chorizo and Strawberry Bruschetta with Basil

 

Chorizo and Strawberry Bruschetta with Basil

Chorizo and Strawberry Bruschetta with Basil

Serves 2-4

medium baguette, sliced, 1
olive oil
chorizo (salami, not fresh chorizo sausage) 1/2 ring, about 150g / 5 ounces
ripe strawberries, cut in half, about 18
fresh basil leaves, a small handful
peppercorns, crushed in a mortar
flaky sea salt

To roast the bread, set the oven to broil (grill). If your oven doesn’t have a broil setting, toast the baguette in a hot cast iron pan.

Brush the baguette on both sides with olive oil and, if using your oven, spread them on a baking sheet and roast for 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden brown, but not burnt. If you use a pan, in batches, spread the bread in the pan and toast on both sides until golden.

Depending on the size of your bread, pile up 2 slices of chorizo and 2-3 strawberry halves on each bruschetta. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with basil, crushed pepper, and salt. Enjoy!

Chorizo and Strawberry Bruschetta with Basil

 

Chorizo and Strawberry Bruschetta with Basil

 

Chorizo and Strawberry Bruschetta with Basil

 

Chorizo and Strawberry Bruschetta with Basil

Strawberry Mascarpone Panna Cotta

Strawberry Mascarpone Panna Cotta

If I could choose between a cake or creamy desserts, I think I would always go for the cake. I just love pastries, no matter if it’s buttery shortcrust, flaky puff pastry, soft sponge, or juice-soaked lady fingers in a trifle. The combination of flour, butter, eggs, and sugar is pure magic in my eyes. Since I was a child, I’ve always been the first at the cake buffet when we have our luscious family feasts, and I’m also the last one, when the platters are almost empty.

As I’m the one who’s responsible for sweet treats at home – at least most of the time – we barely get to enjoy the dark depth of a mousse au chocolate, the sweetness of a vanilla scented Bavarian cream or a crème caramel. If my boyfriend could choose, it would be the other way around; we’d have cake maybe twice a year. He loves anything sweet, smooth, and creamy and if I want to spoil him a little, I make a panna cotta. The Italian classic is usually made with heavy cream and milk, but I like to sneak in some ricotta (like I did for my rosewater and pistachio panna cotta), or a little mascarpone, which fits perfectly to the juiciest strawberries I’ve found this year so far. A bit of fresh mint on top and these little beauties are done. When we have guests for dinner, I usually serve this dessert in small ramekins, but this time I went for wine glasses. The shiny red fruit looks really pretty in the bright panna cotta, it would be a pity to hide them.

Strawberry Mascarpone Panna Cotta

 

Strawberry Mascarpone Panna Cotta

Strawberry Mascarpone Panna Cotta

Serves 2 to 4

gelatin sheets (7 x 11cm / 3 x 4″) 2 1/2, or 2 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
heavy cream 240ml / 1 cup
whole milk 120 ml / 1/2 cup
a pinch of fine sea salt
vanilla pod, scraped, 1
granulated sugar 50g / 1/4 cup, plus more for the strawberries
mascarpone 60g / 2 ounces
fresh strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced, 140g / 4 ounces, plus 3-4 whole strawberries, quartered lenghthwise, for the topping
a few fresh mint leaves, for the topping

Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water for about 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan, bring the cream, milk, salt, vanilla seeds, and sugar to the boil. As soon as the mixture is bubbling, take the pan off the heat. Squeeze the excess water from the soaked gelatin sheets and crumble into the warm cream mixture; whisk thoroughly. Stir in the mascarpone and whisk until well combined. Leave the cream in the saucepan and let it cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes, whisking occasionally. Then chill the panna cotta in the fridge for about 1 hour, whisking 3-4 times, or until it starts to set.

Divide the sliced strawberries between 4 ramekins (120ml / 4 ounces), or 2-4 wine glasses, and sprinkle them with a little sugar. Divide the panna cotta between the glasses and chill for about 30 minutes or until set. Arrange the quartered strawberries and the mint leaves on top of the cream just before serving.

Strawberry Mascarpone Panna Cotta

 

Strawberry Mascarpone Panna Cotta

 

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Strawberry Mascarpone Panna Cotta

Strawberry White Chocolate Breakfast Cake

Strawberry White Chocolate Breakfast Cake

This is such a kiddy cake: it’s light and fluffy, sweet and juicy, and packed with soft strawberries and creamy white chocolate. And although my childhood days are far away, I love this cake. I would even call it my favourite spring cake (for the time being, until my next discovery). And the fact that it’s so easy to prepare – you just have to roll out of bed on a lazy Sunday morning and throw it all together – makes it a perfect weekend breakfast cake.

The combination of the ripe red berries and the milky chocolate works unbelievably well in a cake. I’m familiar with this duo in ice cream and other sweet snacks, but it never struck me as much as in this composition. I was worried that the sweetness could be a little overpowering, but there was no reason for it, it was still balanced. In fact, this cute little teaser tastes so good that the two of us ate it in less than 24 hours. I wanted to freeze a few pieces – my new habit to eat a little less sweets as summer is ahead of us – but it was hopeless. We kept cutting one piece after the other until it every little crumb was gone and the plate looked almost clean. I think if I could choose between a plate full of cake or a little less on the hips, I’ll always go for the cake!

Strawberry White Chocolate Breakfast Cake

 

Strawberry White Chocolate Breakfast Cake

Strawberry White Chocolate Breakfast Cake

plain flour 130g / 1 cup, plus 1 tablespoon for the strawberries
cornstarch 30g / 1/4 cup
baking powder 1 heaping teaspoon
fine sea salt 1/8 teaspoon
butter (at room temperature) 160g / 2/3 cup plus scant 1 tablespoon
granulated sugar 100g / 1/2 cup
vanilla bean, scraped, 1/2
organic eggs 3
fresh strawberries, cut into cubes, 150g / 5 ounces
high quality white chocolate, chopped, 100g / 3/1/2 ounces

For the topping (optional)

icing sugar or finely grated white chocolate 1 tablespoon
fresh strawberries 3-4

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F (preferably convection setting) and butter a 20cm / 8″  springform pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt.

In a second large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla seeds until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well in between. Continue mixing for 2 minutes or until the mixture is thick and creamy. Quickly mix in the flour mixture until combined. Mix the strawberries with 1 tablespoon of flour and add, along with the chopped white chocolate, to the batter. Using a wooden spoon, gently fold in the berries and chocolate until just combined. Scrape the batter into the buttered springform pan, even it out, and bake for 40-45 minutes (slightly longer if using a conventional oven) or until golden on top. Check with a skewer, it should come out clean. Let the cake cool for a few minutes before you take it out of the springform pan.

Sprinkle the cool cake with icing sugar or grated white chocolate and decorate with strawberries.

Strawberry White Chocolate Breakfast Cake

 

Strawberry White Chocolate Breakfast Cake

 

Strawberry White Chocolate Breakfast Cake

 

Strawberry White Chocolate Breakfast Cake

Strawberry and Lime Chèvre Ciabatta Sandwich with Basil

Strawberry and Lime Chèvre Sandwich

At the moment I can enjoy the best strawberries, their juices are like a honey-sweet nectar, so satisfying that you could just nibble them as they are, pure and without any distracting addition. I have done that excessively but now it’s time to get a bit playful with this summery fruit.

As summer is nearing, I like to simplify my recipes, less ingredients, less work but still the ultimate enjoyment while I’m sitting at the open window with a glass of pinky rosé wine in front of me and someone nice to chat with. Now is the time for easy, light nibbles, like good bread and cheese, fresh herbs, raw fruits and vegetables, and aromatic olive oil – pure, natural tastes.

When my mother was here a couple weeks ago, I did some recipe tasting for my book. All those different dishes and flavours in my kitchen called for a break for my taste buds when I had some time off. I felt like a juicy ciabatta sandwich, so I whipped some chèvre with a little lime zest, spread it voluptuously on the oily bread and covered this picture of a perfect summer sandwich with strawberries and fresh basil. Before I tried the first bite, I wasn’t sure if the combination of cheese and citrus would be a bit much, but there was no need to worry, they are a perfect match. And when I offered it to my mother, who isn’t as obsessed with citrus as I am, she liked it, to my surprise, just as much as I did!

This sandwich has been featured by Food52!

Strawberry and Lime Chèvre Sandwich

Strawberry and Lime Chèvre Ciabatta Sandwich with Basil

For 6 open sandwiches you need

fresh ciabatta bread 6 small slices
fresh chèvre (or any other soft goat cheese) 200g / 7oz
heavy cream 4 tablespoons
lime zest 1/4 teaspoon, plus a little more for the topping
strawberries, quartered, 150g / 5 1/4oz, plus 6 fruits cut in half for the topping
fresh basil leaves a small handful, for the topping

Whisk the chèvre, heavy cream and lime and adjust to taste. Add more cream if necessary, the texture should be smooth and thick. Divide the cheese between the bread, top with strawberries (quartered plus 1 fruit cut in half for each slice) and sprinkle with lime zest and basil. Enjoy!

Strawberry and Lime Chèvre Sandwich

 

Strawberry and Lime Chèvre Sandwich

 

Strawberry and Lime Chèvre Sandwich

 

strawberrylimechevrebasilsandwich10

Chunky Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Jam

For my breakfast toast I like my jam chunky and fruity, thick, with skin, seeds and everything. I’ve never been a big fan of jellies, it’s like something is missing, I need to feel those crunchy bites. Even blackberries, red or black currants, I always cook the whole fruit. When it comes to my favourite spread, sweet strawberries, I cut the fruit in half, it makes a very chunky jam, you can still taste and feel the berries.

In my family, we have always used  jam sugar (also known as gelling or jelly sugar) when we make strawberry jam. It contains pectin made of apples and citrus fruits and you can also choose between three different types, either 3:1, 2:1 or 1:1. The numbers stand for the ratio between fruit and sugar,  I prefer 2:1 which allows a less sweet jam, you only need 1 pound of sugar for 2 pounds of berries. I cook mine for 4 minutes to turn it into a concentrated fruit spread, I don’t even need to test for the setting point. It works perfectly!

Since I was a child, I’ve always loved to cook jams. It was exciting, all those fruits to prepare, my mother would bring out her special tall jam pot and the long wooden spoon, both only came to use when it was jam time! The process of sterilizing the jars in boiling water and spirit felt like a science project to me. From my mother I also learnt to cover the jam in the jar with a circle cut out from thick plastic foil dunked in alcohol. It prevents the jam from molding and keeps it fresh for years!

Strawberry Jam

 

Strawberry Jam

 Strawberry Jam

When you cook jam you should always use a tall pot to prevent the jam from boiling over. The fruits will be two to three times as high when they’ve reached boiling point! My pot is 24cm / 9.5″ high and 20cm / 8″ wide.

 

For 8 medium sized jars you need

strawberries, rinsed and cut in half (you can quarter the big ones), 2kg / 4 1/2 pounds
jam sugar (gelling or jelly sugar), 2:1 or 1:1, 1kg / 2 1/4 pound

Sterilize the jars and lids in boiling water for 5 minutes. Dunk the rims of the jars in spirit and wash out the lids and the ladle (you will use to fill the jars) with the alcohol. If you can get a thick foil (thicker than cling film), cut out 8 circles roughly the size of the jars and put into the spirit as well.

Put the fruits and sugar in a pot and bring to the boil, stirring with a long wooden spoon every now and then. When the boiling point is reached (you should see quite a few bubbles coming up), let the jam boil for 4 minutes, carefully stirring a couple times (without burning your hand, hence the long spoon!).

Take the pot of the heat and fill the prepared jars with the sterilized ladle almost to the top. Cover with the circles of foil and close tightly immediately. Let the jam sit for 1 day before you spread it on your first morning toast and store the jars in your pantry.

Strawberry Jam

 

Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Cream Roll for Tea Time in June

strawberryroll1

This is the ultimate strawberry dessert to me, the lightest sponge roll you can imagine filled with vanilla whipped cream and lots of sweet red berries. This cake just makes me happy, and lots of my friends too! There are many cakes, pies, creams, meringues, puddings or trifles which can be tastefully refined with strawberries but nothing beats my fruity summer roll. There is only one variation on this roll which is as good but it demands a bit more work and time, and that’s to replace the whipped cream with a Bavarian vanilla cream. It has the same effect on me, I just can stop eating it!

For now it’s whipped cream which makes this dessert a very quick one. The sponge dough only needs 6 minutes in the oven and it can even be prepared a day before. Then you just need to whip the cream, cut the berries and roll everything up in a big, beautiful roll. I love to eat it at tea time on a Sunday, preferably on a sunny day in my mother’s garden in the countryside. Sitting in the shade under one of her big trees, a plate of this creamy cake in my hands is one of the best treats in June I can imagine. I’m lucky, I will be there next week and I’m sure I’ll bake it again!

strawberryroll4

 

strawberryroll2

 Strawberry Cream Roll

For one big roll made of 38 x 30cm / 15 x 12″ sponge you need

organic eggs 6
sugar 100g/ 3.5 ounces plus more for the whipped cream and sprinkling (around 4 tablespoons)
a pinch of salt
plain flour, sieved, 100g / 3.5 ounces
cornstarch 40g / 1.5 ounces
strawberries, rinsed and cut into slices, 370g / 13 ounces
(keep 4 berries cut in half as decoration)
heavy cream 300g / 10.5 ounces
a pinch of fresh vanilla
icing sugar to dust the roll

Set the oven to 220°C (top / bottom heat) and line a baking sheet (around 38 x 30cm / 15 x 12″) with parchment paper.

Whisk the the egg whites with a pinch of salt for 10 seconds, add 40g of the sugar and continue beating till stiff. Mix the egg yolks with a pinch of vanilla and 60g of the sugar for a few minutes till thick and creamy. Fold the egg whites with a wooden spoon into the egg yolks. Combine the flour and cornstarch and fold gently into the egg mixture. Spread the dough on the baking sheet and bake in the middle of the oven for 6 minutes until spongy.

Sprinkle a kitchen towel with sugar (around 2 tablespoons) and flip the hot sponge onto the towel. Roll it up carefully as you can see in the picture below and let it cool.

Whip the heavy cream with a pinch of fresh vanilla and 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar (or more if you prefer it sweeter) till thick.

Unwind the sponge roll carefully and lay it flat onto a working surface. Spread the whipped cream on the cake, cover with slices of strawberries and roll it up again, slowly and gently, not to squeeze the cream out from the sides. Dust with icing sugar and decorate with the strawberries cut in half. Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

strawberryroll6

 

Strawberry Cream Roll

 

strawberryroll5

An Upside Down Cake with Rhubarb, Cinnamon and Strawberries

Rhubarb + Strawberry Upside Down Cake

An upside down cake is the easiest and most convenient way to put juicy fruits into a quick cake. They just sit on the bottom, soften slowly in their juices and spread their aroma into the dough baking on top. The pastry can grow spongy with a thin crisp layer and the fruits turn into a thick compote. Juiciness where juiciness belongs! Technically the cake should be flipped upside down when it’s done, I just skipped this part. I liked the rustic look of its golden top, like a pie that you scoop out of the pan with a spoon, and to be honest, the bottom doesn’t look as pretty!

In the past few weeks I’ve been using lots of rhubarb in my recipes, I love its fresh, sour taste but its season is quickly coming to an end. No reason to be sad as I’m slowly changing over to what nature offers next, like strawberries! Much sweeter, yet no less versatile in the kitchen. My upside down cake combines the qualities of both fruits, sweet and and sour with a pinch of cinnamon. Not to forget the pastry, it is so good that the cake only lasted a few hours! While I was taking the photos my kitchen was filled with the sweet smell of cinnamon, fruit and fresh pastry, I could barely stop myself from taking the first bite!

Rhubarb + Strawberry Upside Down Cake

 Rhubarb and Strawberry Upside Down Cake

For an oval baking dish (around 25cm / 10″) you need

flour 210g / 7.5 ounces
sugar 150g / 5.5 ounces plus 6 tablespoons for the fruit
baking powder 1 1/2 teaspoons
a pinch of salt
butter, melted, 60g / 2 ounces
organic eggs 2
milk 100ml / 3.5 ounces
a pinch of fresh vanilla
rhubarb, sliced thickly, 650g / 1.5 pounds
strawberries, cut in half, 200g / 7 ounces
cinnamon 1 teaspoon

Set the oven to 190°C / 375°F.

Spread the fruits in a baking dish and sprinkle with 6 tablespoons of sugar mixed with a teaspoon of cinnamon.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, mix the butter, eggs, milk and vanilla with a mixer and fold into the dry mixture, stir with a wooden spoon until you have a lumpy dough. Don’t over mix! With a big spoon dollop the dough on top of the fruits and spread gently until roughly covered. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Check with a skewer, it should come out clean.

Rhubarb + Strawberry Upside Down Cake

 

Rhubarb + Strawberry Upside Down Cake

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