Category: Tarragon

Strawberry Fields Forever Part 2 aka Strawberries Gangland Style

I have some weird little strips of paper in my “recipes to be made” folder.  They are not so much recipes as hints, maybe even whispers of things to make.  I have no idea where they came from – they are numbered and printed so I presume from a list of some sort.   Anyway, each of these is an absolute gem, if a little vague.

Take for instance, strip #58.

“Hull and quarter some strawberries; at the last minute, combine with a little chopped tarragon, black pepper and balsamic vinegar.  Goat’s cheese is good too”

That’s all folks.

I had strawberries galore (huh, sounds a bit like the name of a Bond girl), I had tarragon, black pepper and balsamic…

Ingredients for Strawberry Tarragon Salad
Ingredients for Strawberry Tarragon Salad

I know it’s only just over a week into the year but I strongly believe this salad will be one of my top ten finds of the year.

This was soooooo good.  The sweet strawberries, the aniseedy tarragon, the sticky sweet sour balsamic and the warming zing of pepper are…mindblowingly awesome!

I neither hulled nor quartered my strawberries…who can be bothered following so many steps in a recipe…

Strawberry, Tarragon, Black Pepper, Balsamic Salad
Strawberry, Tarragon, Black Pepper, Balsamic Salad

The recipe suggests that goat’s cheese would not go astray here.  I didn’t have any (why would I? I didn’t have sugar.  Why on earth would I have goat’s cheese?) but I mixed up some sour cream and mascarpone and dobbed that on and it was delicious.  Goat’s cheese would be amazing.  I also would like to try blue cheese.

Strawberry Tarragon Salad with Mascapone

The vinegar that the strawberries soaked in went all thick and syrupy and took on a pinkish tinge from the strawberry juice.  I siphoned this back into a small bottle for later use as it seemed too good to throw out.

Strawberry Balsamic
Strawberry Balsamic

And speaking of awesome, my White Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake Semifreddo for Mark’s birthday?  Amazing!!! Another good contender for top ten for the year.  I hope I haven’t peaked early!

I used this recipe from a Delicious Magazine:

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/6801/strawberry+cheesecake+semifreddo

with the addition of White Chocolate into both the base and the filling.

Why white chocolate?

I was leafing through one of my favourite food books, Niki Sengit’s Flavour Thesaurus to see if she had anything to say about strawberries and tarragon (she doesn’t, although there is a section on strawberries and anise).  This book is a must have for any serious foodie and even the not so serious ones as some of the entires are hilarious!

Flavour Thesaurus
Flavour Thesaurus

Niki has the following to say about strawberries and white chocolate:

“In fancy chocolate shops, I sometimes see slabs of white chocolate spattered with clots of freeze dried strawberry, like stucco after a shoot out.  White chocolate makes for a better combination with strawberry than milk or dark because, like strawberry and gangland comparisons, it’s a little cheesy”

I couldn’t resist.  So I bought a family block of white chocolate and melted half into the biscuit base and half into the filling.  It was sensational.  And just right for a birthday celebration on a hot night.  We had dinner at our favourite Thai restaurant then came home for some bubbly and the semifreddo.  It was a delightful way to end a lovely day!

And in honour of Niki, and with a slight nod to the K-pops, but mostly because  White Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake Semifreddo is too much of a mouthful, from now on, in this house at least, it will be known as Semifreddo Gangland Style.

White Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake Semifreddo aka Semifreddo Gangland Style
Happy birthday darling!
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Retro Food for Modern Times – Strawberry Fields Forever, Part 1

Let me take you down ‘cos I’m going to...

…my local green grocer where they are currently selling trays of strawberries for $6.  My sincere apologies to John Lennon for that absolute travesty but just in case you are not utterly awestruck by this, let me reiterate.  A tray of strawberries for $6.   That’s 16 punnets.  For $6 dollars. The world may have not ended on December 21st but it has surely gone mad! 

Strawberries

How do farmers make any money when the (literal) fruit of their labour is being sold off at about 40 cents a punnet?

Maybe because the week before Christmas punnets of strawberries were selling for $4 each!

I know,  it’s not the farmers, it’s the wholesalers and the grocery shop owners and all the people in between who add their mark up.  The farmers probably got paid the same for the $4 strawberries as they did for the 40 cent strawberries.

My joy at my bargain buy lasted until I had to carry, not only all of my regular fruit and veggies,  but an additional four kilos of strawberries,  from the shop to my car.  By the time I reached the car (it was a hot day and I had parked some distance away from the shop to get a spot in the shade), I’d stopped thinking “I’m the best shopper in the world! ” and “I’m in berry heaven” to “What  on earth am I going to do with four kilos of strawberries?”  and  “How can four kilos of strawberries actually weigh a ton?”. 

Strawberries Waiting To Be Sorted
Strawberries Waiting To Be Sorted

My first task, on getting home, was to sort the strawberries – a few in each punnet were overripe and were starting to get a bit manky.   The perfect  ones went into a colander and the fridge for eating.  We have been feasting on these all week.

The  almost perfect berries went into a bag and into the freezer whole.  I puréed the somewhat bruised berries and placed them in 6 containers in the freezer where they will be great for smoothies, muffins, etc later in the year. Finally, my kitchen helpers, Oscar and Lulu, were on hand to dispose of the fourth group being the few badly bruised  berries that were left.

Oscar
Oscar
Lulu
Lulu

We have been eating  strawberries all week – by the handful whenever we feel a bit peckish;  for dessert with cream (Mark) and ice cream (me) and for breakfast with mango and vanilla yogurt:

Strawberry, Mango and Vanilla Yogurt Breakfast
Strawberry, Mango and Vanilla Yogurt Breakfast

I have started making a strawberry liqueur based on the link below with some tweaks inspired by other recipes, most notably, I am putting the sugar in from the start.

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/06/homemade-strawberry-liqueur-recipe.html

 I searched high and low for tarragon yesterday; I went to three greengrocers and I could not find it  for love or money.  I decided to use basil instead.


Strawberry Basil Liqueur
Strawberry Basil Liqueur

 I was so excited about making the liqueur and trying to track down the tarragon, that I completely forgot to check the other ingredients.  I knew I had strawberries, I had vodka.  I was searching for tarragon.  And who particularly someone who bakes regularly, doesn’t have caster sugar?  Me apparently.  Grrr… Such a newbie mistake!!!

So today, I ducked into the supermarket to pick up the caster sugar and found piles of tarragon.  As I had another recipe for tarragon and strawberries I was aching to try, I bought a bunch and pulled the basil out of my would be liqueur and popped in the tarragon and sugar.   All the sugar sank to the bottom and when I tipped it upside down to mix it in, it made these drippy pale pink stalactite type things that looked awesome!  The mixture is also already a fabulous pink colour. And it’s only Day 2.  Imagine Day 30.

Strawberry Tarragon Liqueur
Strawberry Tarragon Liqueur

It’s Mark’s birthday tomorrow and the temperature is set to soar.  Baking in my tiny kitchen when it’s anything above 30 degrees outside  is not something I relish.  So, I’ve decided that he will get a White Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake Semifreddo in lieu of a traditional birthday cake. I’m aiming for quirky but cool.  We’ll see how that works out.  I also need to get busy making it.  Which means that my strawberry and tarragon salad recipe will have to wait until the next post.

On a more sombre note, and speaking of temperatures soaring, many parts of Australia are currently experiencing devastating bushfires and my heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones, homes and belongings in this tragedy and to the brave people, many of whom are volunteers, who are so valiantly fighting the fires. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

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