The summer months in Scotland mean an abundance of outstanding soft fruits.
Soft fruit farming here has seen a steady growth in recent years and it is not difficult to see why the demand is so high. There is nothing more exciting for a Scottish chef than seeing the first strawberries of the season arrive in the kitchen. For me, they are second to none.
During my five years in Australia, I never once put a strawberry dish on any of my menus. Once you have tasted Scottish strawberries then it is very difficult to settle for anything else. We have our wonderful climate to thank for our renowned berries. They thrive in the cooler summers where long daylight hours help them to ripen with plenty of flavour.
There are so many farms across the country where you can pick your own berries. This makes for a really enjoyable family day out and the best part is that you return home with a selection of exceptional fruit. Don’t worry, you don’t need to use all of the berries straight away; strawberries can be made into a delicious jam and raspberries store amazingly well in the freezer.
If you do have some fresh strawberries, then this week’s recipe is highly recommended. It is a simple recipe with just a few ingredients but it looks stunning served in glasses which showcase the layered effect. All elements of this pudding can be prepared in advance so it is great for a summer dinner party or barbecue. Of course, any fresh berries would work in this recipe so get creative and use whichever selection you have to hand.
250ml double cream
200g cream cheese
300g white chocolate
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
Juice of ¼ lemon
10g caster sugar
Freeze dried strawberries (These are available from most supermarkets and kitchenware shops)
For the cheesecake mixture
Whip the double cream till it holds soft peaks. Gently melt the white chocolate over a bain marie, then fold the melted white chocolate and vanilla seeds through the cream cheese. Fold this mixture into the whipped cream and pour the mixture into a piping bag.
Store in the fridge until ready to serve.
For the strawberries
Finely dice 8 of the strawberries, reserving 4 whole strawberries. Combine the diced strawberries with the lemon juice and caster sugar.
Leave to marinate for at least half an hour so that the juices are released.
Divide the diced strawberries among 4 glasses. Place one whole strawberry in the centre of each glass.
Pipe a layer of the cheesecake mixture over the strawberries and top with the freeze dried strawberries.