The undeniable queen of summertime is the strawberry, says 1921’s Zack Deakins, and gives us a royally luscious recipe to try
Unbelievably, May is nearly over! That, combined with a few days of sunshine, makes it feel like summer is really here.
Summer is not traditionally our busiest time of year, as people understandably choose venues with outside eating space or even stay home for barbecues. However, I enjoy it all the same because the produce is just the best and a slightly less manic pace means time to try things out and put new ideas on the menu.
The first ingredient that goes on any menu this time of year is the British strawberry. To me, no other ingredient screams summer in the same way. They are so much a part of all the things we associate with a British summer. Wimbledon, Pimm’s, Eton mess, picnics and afternoon tea in the sunshine. Strawberries will be everywhere for the next couple of months. Maybe it’s the fact that they are so bountiful and used so much, or maybe it’s the fact that you can easily get them all-year round (although not even close in quality). No matter the reason, I do feel the strawberry is often taken for granted. . . but when you bite into a truly fresh, perfectly ripe strawberry there is very little better! This is because as soon as strawberries are picked the sugar in them starts converting to starch. So the more local the strawberries are, chances are they were picked more recently and therefore will taste so much sweeter.
As I said, strawberries will feature almost constantly on our menus for the next few months. There will no doubt be lots of different dishes and recipes that we develop, but for now I thought I would share with you a dish my sous chef Aonghas and I came up with this week. It is a nice way of showing different ways of using strawberries and different flavours you can get from them all in one dish. You will ideally require a food thermometer and a kitchen mixer to make it. If you don’t have these or would just prefer to have us make it for you, it will be on our lunch menu for the next week or two.
ROASTED STRAWBERRY PARFAIT WITH STRAWBERRY SOUP
1kg fresh strawberries, hulled
1 orange sliced
200g icing sugar
3 egg yolks
Semi-whipped double cream
Firstly, combine the strawberries with the icing sugar and the orange, then leave somewhere warm for 3-4 hours. In this time the juice from the orange and the icing sugar will draw the juice out of the strawberries. Pour this mixture through a muslin cloth or kitchen paper. Chill the liquid and reserve to serve as strawberry ‘soup’ with the dish.
Take the remaining strawberries and remove the orange slices. Place in an oven proof dish and roast at 180 degrees for approximately half an hour or until the strawberries start to caramelize and go jammy. Remove from the oven and blend to a smooth paste.
Now you can start to make the parfait. Put the egg yolk into a kitchen mixer with a whisk attachment and whisk on high speed until pale in colour and thick in consistency.
While they are whisking, combine the glucose and sugar with the water and heat slowly until it reaches 112 degrees. With the mixer still running, slowly pour the sugar mix into your whisked egg yolk. This will cook your egg yolks and give the parfait its sweet creamy texture. Leave the mixer running until the mixture is at room temperature. This is called a pâté à bombe.
Now add the roasted strawberry purée. When fully mixed, fold in the semi-whipped cream. Pour the parfait mix into a lined tray and freeze overnight.
To serve, simply cut the frozen parfait into your desired shape, put it in a bowl and pour over the strawberry soup. In the restaurant we garnish the dish with fresh strawberries, meringue, basil sorbet and some crumbled shortbread. It is just summer in a bowl!
Zack Deakins is chef patron of 1921 Angel Hill in Bury St Edmunds.
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