Strawberries are late this year because of the weather, but now is the time to enjoy them. So this week, I have three simple yet stylish and tasty strawberry recipes.
I was fortunate when making Home Chef to visit Pat Clarke, who grows soft fruit in Stamullen, Co Meath, where he employs about 100 people. We have a lot of good soft-fruit growers in Ireland now and Pat has been to the forefront. Back in the 1980s, he was the first to introduce the very popular El Santa strawberry to Ireland. These days, you can get them in all good supermarkets.
Pat's strawberries are all stem picked, which means that the fruit is not touched; the stem is cut with a scissors. Handling causes bruising and causes the fruit to go off, so strawberries cut this way are much fresher.
The roulade is a light refreshing dessert. Be careful when making this as the roulade can be very fragile when you are rolling it. The result is scrumptious and ideal for a family get-together or a picnic. Lemon curd and strawberries is a great combination. Make sure you get fresh passionfruit – the smoother the skin, the fresher they are.
The duck recipe is a twist on the classic duck a l'orange. The sweet and sour taste goes well with the smoky taste of the Silver Hill duck. You will find strawberry vinegar in good health-food shops. The dressing is one I also like to use drizzled over grilled goat's cheese.
Smoothies are a great way to get children to eat fruit, and they are also easy for them to make. They are a great way to start the day. This one can be made up to two hours in advance. The wheatgerm gives roughage and texture. I usually use yogurt from Kilbeg Dairies, where Kieran and Jane Cassidy make a wide range of excellent products.
Now is a good time to buy strawberries, and if you remove the hull you can freeze them and have them all year round for smoothies.
Smoked silverhill duck salad with clarke's strawberry dressing
Smoked Silver hill Duck Salad with Clarke's Strawberry DressingServes two.
YOU WILL NEED
1 large orange, rind grated and flesh cut into segments
2 tbsps strawberry vinegar
3 tbsps rapeseed oil
1 tsp chopped chives
1 tsp honey
120g pack sliced smoked duck breast (Silver Hill)
100g Clarke's strawberries, dehulled and diced into cubes
Mixed salad leaves, to serve
3 tbsps flaked almonds, toasted
Whisk the grated orange rind with the vinegar, rapeseed oil, chives and honey, then season to taste.
Divide the smoked duck between the plates. Arrange the orange segments between each duck slice.
Sprinkle the diced strawberries over the duck. Mix the salad leaves with the dressing. Arrange in the centre of duck slices. Drizzle any remaining dressing over the top, then scatter over the toasted almonds and serve.
Strawberry and passionfruit meringue roulade
YOU WILL NEED
4 egg whites
Pinch of salt
200g golden caster sugar
200 lemon curd
150ml cream, whipped
1 vanilla pod (seeds only)
100g strawberries, hulled and chopped
Heat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas Mark 4. Line a Swiss roll tin with baking paper. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. Slowly add the sugar, still whisking, until stiff and glossy.
Spoon the mixture evenly on to the Swiss roll tray and bake for 15 minutes until crisp on the outside. Remove and cool completely.
Lay out a piece of fresh greaseproof paper and flip the meringue on to it. Carefully pull away the used paper and discard. Spread the lemon curd on the meringue before placing the passionfruit seeds on top.
Whip the cream with the vanilla seeds and spread over the lemon curd, then sprinkle over the strawberries. Roll the meringue up, using the paper to help turn it over.
Place on a serving tray and garnish with icing sugar and fresh strawberries.
Makes about 900ml/1½ pints.
YOU WILL NEED
450g/16oz fresh strawberries
1 tbsp wheatgerm
450g/1lb natural plain yogurt
225ml/8fl oz semi-skimmed milk
2 tbsps honey (optional)
Handful of ice cubes
Place the strawberries in a liquidiser with the wheatgerm, yogurt, milk and honey, if using. Blend until smooth and pour into tall glasses half-filled with ice cubes.