Friday, June 10, 2011

The start of the tennis grass court season and its strawberries

So the tennis has moved from clay to grass just in time for the cats and dogs that live in the sky to start falling to the ground, or is it the other way round? Anyway, whatever is going on upstairs, the tennis, the rain and this time of year is when our strawberries really start to mean something. There honestly isn't anything quite like the taste of your own berries in season that haven't been in a fridge since they were picked, that is true honest flavour. Sat in the sun with their leaves still on for a few moments before devoured is yet another sensation altogether. 

Scented flowers and sweet herbs always work awfully well with summer fruits. Again and as with everything seasonal, look at what is in our hedgerows and farmer's markets this time of year. A few blackberry leaves and a pinch of elderflower buds would be a spectacular infusion. Have a look at Ms Marmitelover's fantastic recent magical elder moment here. This stock syrup keeps forever and can be scented with other herbs and flowers such as geranium or mint. There's also a wonderful strawberry yoghurt parfait worth a look at from the brilliant talent that is spice spoon should any of your crop be deserving of a bit more of a regal work out.

Strawberries with hibiscus and basil syrup

Serves 4

150ml light stock syrup
1 tblsp lemon juice
2 rosehip and hibiscus tea bags
2 large fresh basil leaves
500g fresh strawberries, hulled
Extra basil leaves to garnish

Place the stock syrup in a medium-sized pan, bring almost to the boil, and then stir in the lemon juice, tea bags and basil. Remove from the heat and allow to infuse for 20 minutes. Strain and set aside until needed.

Ten minutes before serving, place the strawberries in four bowls. Pour over the juice and leave to macerate at room temperature.

Garnish with extra basil leaves, maybe even a tiny twist of fresh black pepper and serve. Cream, ice cream or custard isn't wholly necessary, but I'm not judging if you insist.


  1. My elderflowers are growing out of control just like weeds at home, any other ideas, chef?

  2. Pimms and sunshine, I just love this time of year!

  3. Terence was looking for something to do with strawberries last night for dessert for the household here. I'll have to get him to check this out. Any other ideas?

  4. Lara - how about a strawberry mess, lightly mashed strawbs, whipped vanilla cream and coconut meringue? Or freeze the smallest and when ready to eat pour hot white chocolate sauce over them? I actually think one of the best combinations are if they're folded through lightly whipped cream, a bit of sugar, lemon, pepper, basil and mint then sandwiched between either very crisp puff pastry or extra thin cookies.

  5. ...and for Anonymous - elderflower cordial; Take a big bucket of elderflower with most of the stalks removed, 2 limes juiced and one kettle of hot water Add the same amount of sugar by weight to elderflowers and steep overnight. Strain and adjust sweetness/sharpness, bottle and use as cordial.

    Deep fried elderflowers (for crudites with dips) flour, an egg and a bit of fizzy water to make the batter. Dip the elderflowers with stalks and deep fry, great with garlic mayonnaise...