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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Strawberries In Full Swing

Another week gone by... and what a week it was. We spent the Canada Day "extra" long weekend in Montreal visiting friend and my in-laws. (It's extra long because Canada Day fell on a Wednesday this year and we took Thursday and Friday off to give us five wonderful days away from work.) As usual, it was a non-stop buffet of food. Quebec seems to bring out both the gluttons and connoisseurs in us. My mother-in-law is a great cook and of course, this is a province that prides itself on wonderful outdoor markets offering up great local fruits and vegetables and time honoured artisan breads, cheeses and meats.

We stocked up on our favourite cheeses, chocolates, Montreal-style bagels, smoked meat, and kosher pickles. Of course, we also must take advantage of seasonal produce when possible and right now, the local strawberries have arrived. Oh happy days.

If you're about my age, maybe you grew up only savouring fresh strawberries in early summer. However, times have changed and cheap strawberries now are available all year around in the supermarket. However, these supermarket citizens are not known to be all that tasty. (And that is being kind!) No, in fact, they tend to be watery, sour and mealy. But around late June to early July, a small window opens and local strawberries make an appearance. These little rubies seem a world away from their year-around siblings; they are delicate, smaller in size but lusciously red and intensely juicy!

We bought half a flat and picked them off one by one all the way to the car! I wondered for a moment if they would even make it home...

The stars must have aligned for this week's posting... The inspiration came to me as we drove through picturesque Quebec countryside and in the first place we stopped in, an Trappist monk gift shop, meringues appeared. Divine intervention, perhaps?

(While meringues are so easy to make, it is nice to run across light and crisp meringues you can pick up and take home.)

Eton Mess is hardly a recipe - because if I told you to macerate strawberries, add some whipped cream, crumble in some meringue cookies, and throw it all together, you'd have an Eton Mess, too. It's that simple.

Eton Mess

1 pint fresh strawberries, cleaned & sliced
1 tbsp brown sugar

1 c whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla

meringue cookies (use as many as you see fit) (I used 180 grams for this recipe)

1. Slightly mash strawberries and brown sugar. Set aside for at least ten minutes or longer.
2. Whip cream and vanilla until soft stiff peaks.
3. Crumble meringues coarsely. Gently stir into whipped cream. Add about half of strawberries and liquid. Fold gently.
4. Spoon large spoonfuls of strawberries into a serving dish. Dollop with generous amounts of whipped cream mixture. Top with strawberries and drizzle with remaining juice. Serve immediately.

*I didn't sweeten the whipped cream because I wanted the natural flavours of the strawberries to come through.


Ginny said...

I love meringue with fresh berries! Delicious! :)

Christina Kim said...

I totally agree - those store-bought strawberries are indeed cheaper, but they are unnaturally large, and not particularly flavorful. But those little tiny bright red local gems are just bursting with natural sweetness. When I was a kid, we would go strawberry picking all the time; it reminds me of those days!

Vinosister said...

That looks so yummy!
I wonder if it would be as good with raspberries....I have a backyard full. I'll give it a try.

Pearl said...

that looks so delicious! what a perfect treat for summer!

Marta said...

Such great flavours in Quebec... especially the cheese!! Oh if it only made its way to Calgary I would be so happy... but the "Good Cheese" trend stops right around Toronto, boooooo!!!!
The monster-sized strawberries often just taste like wood. I try to buy the local one, tiny but sweet!

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