Monday, 7 July 2014

Strawberry kitchen

My kitchen smells of strawberries, it's the most amazing smell on a lovely sunny day - breeze blowing in through the back door, tummies full of the lovely veggie surprise tart, fab company with a friend round for 80's DVDs (St Elmo's fire - I'm still humming the tune to myself now) and a catch up - and we have the lovely smell of fresh (well, purchased Saturday) farmers market strawberries all washed and chopped ready for my spectacular post-Wimbledon dessert.

Yesterday I mentioned I'm made meringues, so you might be able to guess what this evening's desert was - it's not a complicated recipe, but goodness me it was yummy!

I followed Delia's recipe - I'd bought her "How to cook" books in Hay-on-Wye when I visited a few weeks ago, but not really used them.  To be honest I was looking for a Eaton Mess recipe - OK most people probably don't need a recipe for this, but I wasn't sure what all the individual ingredients were meant to be (I still don't), but after finding Delia's meringue recipe I didn't get much further. Her suggestion was a bit different to the last one I tried. 

I needed two egg whites - and she'd included instructions of how you should break the egg white into a separate bowl and then add to the main mix, just in case you had a separating disaster - I've never had a disaster - until now! I managed to get some yolk into my white - but as it was such a small amount I thought I'd try anyway.  The eggs whipped up beautifully, then I started to add the sugar, but either the yolk caused a delayed problem, or I added the sugar too quickly, but I ended up with a white gloop, rather than an meringue :/  Sadly I washed this down the sink and started again. This time with more care and attention to detail and was far more successful.

Delia has you using the electric whisk the whole time you're adding the sugar (110 grams, about half a tablespoon at a time), but in the past I've always folded in the sugar ( with a large metal spoon (apparently this is important, not sure of the reasons), but I though I'd go with this recipe, and really did end up with a lovely thick glossy mixture.  For added effect, I dropped in some red food colouring, and whisked for a bit longer, but not to make them completely red, I was definitely going to the swirl effect.

I had the cooker heating up to gas mark 2, and then plopped the mixture onto the baking sheet, Delia suggested I should be able to get 8 out of the mix, but I managed 4 1/2, and I didn't think they were that big either.

As I was making nests, I used the back of the spoon to squash down the mix, and then had to develop a kind of flick to get the spoon off the mixture without pulling it all back up.  I think I perfected the nest by the 4th one!

Pop them in the oven for 30 mins (immediately lowering the temp to gas mark 1), and then just turn the oven off and leave them to dry out.  I have a double oven, and had planned my baking the wrong way round - I should have done the savoury stuff first, but I grilled the frittata in the top over/grill and then baked the tart - hopefully there wasn't too much heat passing down into the bottom oven, just enough to keep them drying out.  To be honest, I left them in there overnight as well, just because I didn't have a spare box to store them in.  However, I did have a snack on the 1/2 meringue! Quality control you know :)

I then made the meringues up into mini desserts, not really sure what to call them - but I had some strawberry and cream Lindor chocolates, which I chopped in half and popped into the nest, then a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, then piled on the freshly chopped strawberries, and finally poured over an Ambrosia vanilla sauce cream type thing (I didn't have any cream in the house). Finished result, lush!

Really the best meringues I've ever made - I think I pretty much decide this every time I make them, but the had that nice stepping on fresh crisp snow crunch as you put the spoon into them, and then so soft and gooey on the inside.  Wow!  I don't buy meringues any more, as I never find shop bought ones that I like, but these are perfect (for me, anyway)

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