One punnet of strawberries, eight fantastic ways to use them, from cake to ketchup

There’s more to strawberries than cream and sugar. Try tomatoes, avocados, even harissa

Strawberry tart: brushing the top with jam gives a high-gloss, professional-looking finish. Photograph: iStock/Getty

Strawberry tart: brushing the top with jam gives a high-gloss, professional-looking finish. Photograph: iStock/Getty

 

If you are not going to get out there and pick strawberries, the least you can do is eat them. This part of the world could be facing a bit of a strawberry glut, thanks to the cancellation of hundreds, if not thousands, of weddings and summer parties. As civic duties go, eating loads of strawberries isn’t that taxing, but they won’t sit around waiting for you to come up with new ways to serve them. Here are eight delicious ideas to help you manage your personal stockpile.

Maceration is step number one in a lot of the recipes below. At its simplest, macerating consists of hulling and halving a quantity of strawberries, tossing them in a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of sugar, then leaving them to sit in the fridge for half an hour or so – but not long enough for them to turn into mush (meaning not overnight). Additions to the basic formula may include juice (orange or lemon), balsamic vinegar or alcohol.

CAKES AND TARTS

A basic strawberry tart, however, requires no maceration. You just make – or otherwise obtain – a shortcrust pastry case, fill it with whipped cream or pastry cream (I have had some success with this fail-safe YouTube tutorial, by Thomas Joseph) and sink sliced strawberries into the top in an orderly spiral. You can get very fussy about sizing fruit for a neat look or, alternatively, not bother.

Felicity Cloake’s strawberry tart is slightly more sophisticated, in that you have to be the sort of person who has rosewater to hand, but it is no more difficult to produce. It also contains a handy recipe-within-a-recipe, for an incredibly useful no-roll shortcrust pastry: you just press the mixture into the tin with the base of a cup.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s strawberry and basil tart has an intriguing combination of strawberries, pistachios and basil-infused pastry cream. It also calls, thankfully, for store-bought puff pastry. Life may not be too short to make your own puff pastry, but the Irish summer definitely is.

Felicity Cloake’s strawberry tart

Preparation: 10-15 minutes; chill: 15 minutes; cook: 1 hour; set: 30 minutes

Serves 8

Ingredients
For the pastry
110g cold butter
200g plain flour
65g caster sugar
¼tsp fine salt

For the filling
200ml whipping cream
2tsp icing sugar
½-2tsp rosewater, to taste (optional)
200g thick whole-milk yogurt
About 500g ripe strawberries
4tbsp redcurrant jelly, or other smooth jam (optional)

Method
1. Make the pastry
You could use 375g ready-made sweet shortcrust here, but this is so easy it’s very little extra effort than shop-bought. Dice the butter and put it in a food processor with the flour, sugar and salt, and pulse for about a minute, until the mix resembles damp sand. Alternatively, put everything in a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips.

2. Line the tin
Tip the pastry crumbs into a loose-bottomed, shallow, 25cm tart tin, then spread out to cover the base and bank them up around the sides. Press the crumbs with the base of a glass until you have a solid pastry case, working the crumbs up the edges as well, so the whole tin is evenly coated. Pop it into the freezer and chill for 15 minutes, until firm.

3. Bake the case
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180 Celsius/gas 4. Take the tin out of the freezer, prick the base all over with a fork, then bake for about 20-25 minutes, until crisp and lightly golden all over. Keep an eye on it towards the end of the cooking time, because overcooked pastry tends to crumble once filled.

4. Leave to cool
Leave the baked shell to cool completely in the tin, then transfer to a serving plate. If you try to rush this bit and fill the case while it’s still warm, the pastry is liable to go soggy. You may, however, make the pastry case a few hours in advance, in which case keep it in its tin and, once cool, cover with a tea towel.

5. Whip and flavour the cream
Pour the cream into a large bowl and whip until it’s just starting to hold its shape. Sift in the sugar (this will get rid of any lumps) and add half a teaspoon of rosewater, if using. Different brands vary hugely in strength, so start small: you can always add more later. (For other flavouring ideas, see step 9.)

6. Add yogurt
Keep whipping the cream until it forms soft peaks, then fold in the yogurt. You could use cream alone, but yogurt gives the tart a lighter, fresher flavour – don’t be tempted to use a reduced-fat variety, though, because that will make it sour and watery. Greek yogurt, being thicker, may need to be whisked briefly beforehand, to make it easier to incorporate.

7. Top with strawberries
Taste the cream mix and add more rosewater or sugar, if need be, then spoon into the tart case and smooth out with a spoon or spatula. Wash the strawberries, then hull and cut into quarters (or sixths, if they are on the large side). Arrange neatly on top of the cream, starting in the centre, points facing upwards, in concentric circles; or just cut the fruit in half and lay cut side down in neat rows.

8. Glaze
If you’re happy with a more natural look, you can now serve the tart just as it is. But, for a high-gloss, professional-looking finish, gently heat the jelly or jam in a small pan over a low heat until it melts, then use a pastry brush to paint the strawberries, making sure you don’t drip it on any exposed cream. Leave to set for at least half an hour before serving.

9. Other flavourings
The tangy sweetness of a ripe strawberry is a pleasure that needs little in the way of enhancement, but I can’t resist the summery perfume of rose petals. If you’re not keen on those, add a dash of vanilla extract (or the scraped seeds from a vanilla pod), the finely grated zest of an unwaxed lemon or orange, or even some black pepper.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s strawberry and basil tart

You can make the cream a day ahead and keep in the fridge, but don’t get ahead with the strawberries: they’ll go too soft if left to sit around for more than three hours

Serves six

Ingredients
For the pastry cream
300ml whole milk
60g caster sugar
30g unsalted butter, cut into 2cm dice
Scraped seeds from ½ vanilla pod
1½tbsp cornflour
2 large egg yolks
Salt
10g basil leaves, finely sliced

For the macerated strawberries
400g strawberries, hulled and cut lengthways into 0.5cm-thick slices
3tbsp caster sugar
2 limes, skin finely shaved, then juiced to get 3tbsp
10g basil leaves
Seeds scraped from ½ vanilla pod
1tbsp pistachios, lightly toasted and roughly chopped, to garnish

For the pastry case
320g ready-rolled puff pastry sheet
1 large egg, beaten
1½tsp caster sugar

Method
1. First make the pastry cream. Put the milk, sugar, butter and vanilla in a medium saucepan and place on a medium heat. Gently warm until the butter has melted, making sure the milk does not come to a boil.

2. In a second bowl, whisk the cornflour and egg yolks until smooth.

3. Remove the milk from the heat, then very slowly pour it over the egg yolk mix, whisking continuously until very smooth. Return the mixture to the pan, and cook on a medium heat for eight to 10 minutes, stirring continuously, until the custard bubbles and thickens. Stir in a pinch of salt, then pour the custard into a shallow, heat-proof dish. Cover with cling-film – you want the film actually to touch the surface of the custard, because this will prevent a skin forming – then refrigerate for at least an hour, until cool and set.

4. Put all the ingredients for the macerated strawberries except the nuts in a medium bowl, stir gently to combine, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, but no longer than three hours.

5. Heat the oven to 190 Celsius/gas mark 5. Cut out a 23cm square from a puff pastry sheet and lay this on an oven tray lined with greaseproof paper. Using the back of a knife, score a square inside the pastry to leave a 1.5cm border around the edges. (By using the back of a knife, you’ll make sure you don’t cut all the way through the pastry.) Brush the egg evenly all over the pastry, sprinkle evenly with the sugar, then bake for 20 minutes, until risen and golden brown. Leave to cool.

6. Strain the strawberries through a sieve set over a medium saucepan. Discard the basil and lime zest and transfer the strawberries to a bowl. Set the saucepan over a medium heat for a minute or two, stirring continuously, until the liquid begins to bubble and thickens to the consistency of maple syrup, then leave to cool. Stir the shredded basil into the pastry cream.

7. Gently push down the central square of pastry to create a space for the cream, then spoon in the cream, smoothing the surface as you go. Arrange the strawberries on top of it – it’s up to you whether you do so neatly or haphazardly – drizzle over the cool syrup, sprinkle over the pistachios, and serve.

SALADS

If you are like me, it might take you a while to get your head round the idea of using strawberries in salads, especially salads that sound as if they would be just as good without them. But let us not forget why we are here: to level a massive strawberry mountain before it collapses and buries us all.

Here is what I would suggest: before you commit to a whole salad, try a few bites of the relevant flavour combinations first, to see if they work for you. Some will be delightful from the outset; others may be tastes longer in the acquiring. I haven’t yet made Yotam Ottolenghi’s strawberry and tomato salad, but I did put a tomato and a strawberry in my mouth at the same time, and I can testify that they have a surprising affinity. Mark Bittman’s strawberry and rocket is another rather startling combination to experiment with.

Now I just need to convince my family.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s tomato, strawberry and basil salad

The only time involved here is in the marinating of the onion in lemon and vinegar to create the most brilliant dressing. After that, all you have to do is toss everything together at the last minute (this salad doesn’t take kindly to being left to sit around) and serve with grilled fish or a range of similarly summery snacks

Preparation: 10 minutes; pickle 1-2 hours; cook: 5 minutes

Serves 4 as a side

Ingredients
1½tbsp white-wine vinegar
1 lemon – finely pare off 3 wide strips of peel; then juice, to get 1 tbsp
1tsp caster sugar
Salt and black pepper
½ large red onion, peeled and finely sliced on a mandoline
350g medium vine tomatoes, roughly cut into 4cm pieces
150g strawberries, hulled, cut in half lengthways, then into 5mm-thick slices
5g basil leaves, roughly torn
2½tbsp olive oil

Method
1. Whisk the vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and a quarter-teaspoon of salt in a small bowl, then add the onion and lemon peel, and leave to pickle for at least an hour, preferably two or longer, stirring a couple of times.

2. Make the salad just before you’re ready to serve. Put the tomatoes in a sieve set over a large bowl and leave to drain for five minutes. Meanwhile, drain the pickled onions, reserving the pickling liquid to use in the dressing. Remove and finely chop the lemon peel.

3. Put the strawberries in a bowl with the drained tomatoes and add three-quarters of the onions, three-quarters of the basil, two tablespoons of pickling liquid, the oil and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Stir gently, then transfer to a large, shallow bowl. Arrange the remaining pickled onions and basil on top, then scatter with the chopped lemon peel. Finish with a good grind of black pepper and serve at once.

Mark Bittman’s balsamic strawberries with rocket

Preparation: 15 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients
450g strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered
1tbsp balsamic vinegar, or more to taste
Salt and black pepper
80g-100g rocket leaves
2tbsp olive oil, or more to taste

Method
1. Toss the strawberries with the vinegar and some pepper in a large salad bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes.

2. Add the rocket, sprinkle with some salt to taste, and toss again. Drizzle with the oil and toss gently one more time. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Drizzle with more oil, if you like, and serve.

From How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman (HMH)

FROZEN DESSERTS

I am always drawn to ice-cream recipes that don’t require an ice-cream maker, because I don’t own one and I don’t want one. This straightforward freezer recipe from the chef Tom Hunt has just four ingredients: strawberries, sugar, double cream and mascarpone. Mine didn’t turn out quite as rippled as his, but it disappeared very quickly.

Tom Hunt’s indulgent strawberry and mascarpone ice cream

This is a very easy recipe to make and it doesn’t require an ice-cream machine. This keeps well in the freezer for a couple of weeks so it can be made well in advance

Serves 8-10

Ingredients
300g strawberries
2tbsp grappa
1tsp caster sugar, plus extra to serve
80g raw cane sugar
250ml double cream
150g mascarpone

Method
1. To macerate your strawberries, first hull them, by pulling off the green tops. (Cut them if they are under-ripe.) Then cut the strawberries in half from top to tail. Put them in a bowl with the grappa and caster sugar.

2. Allow them to sit in the fridge for 30 minutes – all the juices will begin to seep out and the strawberries will soften. Turn every now and again to cover them with grappa.

3. To make the ice cream, first bring the macerated strawberries and sugar to the boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

4. Place in the freezer for 1½ hours, until the strawberries have just started to freeze.

5. Whisk the cream until soft peaks form, then incorporate the mascarpone and the near-frozen strawberries just enough to create a ripple effect.

6. Put into a freezable container and put in the freezer. Remove after an hour and whisk with a fork, then return to the freezer. Repeat two or three times, until the ice cream is almost set.

7. Remove from the freezer five minutes before serving. Heat a spoon in boiling water to scoop out the ice cream and serve.

COMPOTES, SAUCES AND JAMS

A surplus of ripe strawberries can quickly turn into an embarrassment of overripe strawberries: bruised, soft, leaking. Compotes and preserves are the perfect way to rescue them.

Strawberry jam is the most obvious route, and, as always, Felicity Cloake supplies the winnowed-down, optimal version . The major issue with strawberries is their lack of pectin, which causes jam to set. You need to add some, either in the from of other, pectin-rich fruit (lemons, say), or by using jam sugar, which already includes pectin.

Strawberry compote is even simpler and keeps in the fridge for about two weeks. If you are looking for something more adventurous, try Yotam Ottolenghi’s frankly counterintuitive strawberry and harissa ketchup , which he recommends as an accompaniment to grilled meats. After the thing with the tomato and the strawberry, I am willing to take his word for it.

Great strawberry jam is surprisingly quick and easy to make. Photograph: iStock/Getty
Great strawberry jam is surprisingly quick and easy to make. Photograph: iStock/Getty

Felicity Cloake’s perfect strawberry jam

Great strawberry jam is surprisingly quick and easy to make, especially if a spurt of enthusiasm at the pick-your-own has left you with a glut, or you spot some over-ripe fruit going cheap at the market – it’s the flavour of summer all year round. All you need are good berries and a little patience. And, of course, a good scone recipe

Makes 4 x 200ml jars

Ingredients
2kg small ripe strawberries
1.7kg jam sugar
Juice of 2 lemons

Method
1. Hull the strawberries and discard any rotten ones. Set aside about 10 of the smallest berries, then mash the rest up into a rough pulp. Put into a wide, thick-bottomed pan, add the sugar and the lemon juice, and bring to the boil. Add the remaining strawberries to the pan, and put a saucer in the freezer.

2. Boil the jam for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly and checking the setting point every minute or so during the last five minutes. To do this, take the cold saucer out of the freezer, put a little jam on it, and put it back in to cool for a minute. If it wrinkles when you push it with your finger, then it’s done. Strawberry jam is unlikely to set very solid, though, so don’t expect the same results as you would with a marmalade.

3. Take off the heat and skim off the pink scum. Pour into sterilised jars and cover with a disc of waxed paper, seal and store.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s strawberry and harissa ketchup

This is lovely with any grilled or barbecued meat. Makes about 250g, or enough to fill a medium jar. It will keep in the fridge for about a week

Ingredients
500g very ripe strawberries, stems and leaves removed
2½tbsp apple cider vinegar
2½tbsp rose harissa (or regular harissa)
2tbsp caster sugar
1tsp finely grated lemon zest

Method
Put everything in a food processor and blitz until well combined. Pour into a large saucepan and cook on a medium heat, stirring often, for 35-40 minutes, until reduced by half and the consistency of a thick ketchup. Transfer to a sterilised jar, seal and store in the fridge.

DRINKS

Strawberries are, for many people, just smoothies waiting to happen, either alone or in combination with numberless other fruits. You can begin with the basic format (strawberry, banana, orange juice) and experiment by adding elements –cranberries, chia seeds, oatmeal – until you realise you have gone too far. Then pull back a little.

For something a bit stronger, Tom Hunt’s strawberry daiquiri is a respectable way to use up any final stray strawberries, or any leftover vodka. Hunt recommends macerating the berries in grappa beforehand, but if you don’t have grappa, a little more vodka makes a decent substitute. If you don’t have a proper blender, you can use a hand blender in a tall jug, although you might have to break up the ice a little first. If you haven’t got a jug, just wash out a large vase. You can see I really wanted to make this work. And it did, in the end.

Tom Hunt’s strawberry daiquiri

A lip-smacking summer cocktail that looks every bit as decadent as it tastes. The fresh fruit makes this taste healthy as well as delicious – a dangerous combination

Makes 4-6

Ingredients
300g macerated strawberries (see above)
2tbsp sugar
3 handfuls of ice
150ml grappa or vodka
4-6 strawberries, to serve

Method
Using a tall blender, blend the ingredients together until smooth. Serve immediately in Martini or wine glasses with a strawberry on the side to decorate. – Guardian

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