This really is a season where food and fun go hand in hand. June and July are thoroughly enjoyable months to spend outdoors with friends and family, sharing playful, bright and delicious dishes that match any summertime occasion.
My days away from the kitchen at this time of year are full of foodie adventures. I love indulging in fish and chips at the North Shields Fish Quay after a day at the beach, rock-pooling at Seahouses, foraging for seashore vegetables. Other days are spent picking from my garden plot, preparing for family barbecues and light summer suppers with the missus and of course, baking the perfect pork pies for a picnic.
I could go on, but really, when it comes down to it, the thing I truly love about this time of year is picking out those summer berries and soft fruits.
Since March I’ve been nurturing my own strawberry plants. They’re in hanging baskets (to keep them away from the slugs) and surrounded by bee-friendly herbs and flowers and will end up in everything from jams to cheesecakes, or just enjoyed with a good glug of double cream! I’m really hoping this summer is going to be a good one so I’m sharing with you a British classic to be enjoyed perhaps on a Sunday afternoon with all the family.
Or, if you’d rather, come try out the restaurant’s version in our brand new al fresco dining area. www.artisannewcastle.com
Honeycomb, Strawberry and Elderflower Trifle
2 punnets of fresh British strawberries (save half a punnet to decorate)
50g icing sugar
70ml Pedro Ximénez sherry (plus a little extra to soak the ladyfingers in)
2 gelatine leaves
350ml full fat milk
150ml double cream
Half vanilla pod
60g caster sugar
100g egg yolk (about 5 eggs)
15g plain flour
Elderflower crème chantilly
250ml double cream
30g icing sugar
Half vanilla pod
Elderflower cordial to taste
Hundreds and thousands
Crushed candied pistachios
Honeycomb (recipe below)
225g caster sugar
12g bicarbonate of soda
The day before…
Put one and a half punnets of strawberries (remember, you’re leaving half a punnet to decorate), icing sugar and sherry into a large bowl. Cover with cling film. Get yourself a pan and fill it with a few inches of water and place over a low heat. When the water is barely simmering put the bowl of strawberries on top of the pan but making sure that the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water! Leave for an hour or until you have a reasonable amount of liquid. Keep topping up the water as necessary. Once ready, drain the strawberry liquid through a fine sieve. Leave for half an hour and then lightly squeeze all the excess juice out. You want to be left with 300ml of juice. Let the gelatine leaves bloom in cold water for five minutes. Next, measure out 300ml of your strawberry liquid and put it into a pan. Bring close, but not to the boiling point. Squeeze out any water from the gelatine and whisk into the hot strawberry mixture. Once incorporated pass through a fine sieve and leave to cool slightly. Get your trifle glass, pour in your jelly and allow to set in the fridge overnight.
The next day…
In a pan bring the milk, cream, vanilla and 40g of caster sugar to the boil. Meanwhile, in another bowl whisk the egg yolks and remaining 20g of sugar to a light ribbon. Add in the flours and incorporate fully. Pour the milky creamy mixture over the egg yolks and then return everything to the pan. Continue to whisk vigorously until you have a thick custard. Pass this through fine sieve.
Tip: Sprinkle a thin layer of icing sugar over the top of the crème pâtissière to stop a crust forming and put into the fridge for later.
Place the honey, water and sugar into a pan and place over medium heat. Once the sugar has dissolved bring the mixture to 150 degrees using a sugar thermometer or watch the mixture until it becomes a light golden colour. Take care and sieve in the bicarbonate of soda. The mixture will be incredibly hot and expand quite quickly. Whisk, but don’t overwork; you just want to make sure everything is incorporated. Pour the mixture into a tray lined with greaseproof paper and allow to set.
Elderflower crème chantilly
Place all ingredients in large mixing bowl and whip by hand or with an electronic whisk until soft peaks are formed. Fit a piping bag with a star nozzle and fill with the elderflower crème chantilly.
Half all the remaining strawberries and arrange inside the trifle glass on top of your jelly. Dip the ladyfingers into the remaining sherry and then crumble on top the strawberries. Spoon the crème pâtissière on top. Pipe the crème chantilly on top of the crème patisserie. And finish by sprinkling over as many hundreds and thousands as you wish. Enjoy!