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Eating in: A berry good idea; discovers the many uses for berries.

Byline: Jenny Longhurst

BRING on the strawberries and cream, especially when the cream is flavoured with a little orange rind and a dash of rosewater.

It's time to make the most of the short local berry season when plump, juicy strawberries are at their best and red and black currants can be served sweet or sharp in savoury dishes as well as desserts.

Berries lend themselves to salads, purees and coulis, are good in jellies and make a tart sauce to cut through the richness of oily fish.

Mackerel with gooseberry or raspberry sauce for example, can be a match made in table heaven.

``Red currants make good little bursts of flavour in salads,'' said Ian Young of The Greenhouse Vegetarian and Fish Cafe in Woodville Road, Cathays.

``They add texture and colour and are great scattered with green olives oversmoked mackerel on a bed of mixed leaves including radiccio and rocket.'' A coulis is one of the easiest ways to produce an intensity of flavour from a berry and it can be served simply poured over icecream, stirred into Greek yoghurt, blobbed alongside a mousse or a tart or drizzled over other summer fruits such as baked nectarines or peaches.

A coulis should be cooked to soften the tartness of the fruit, especially in the case of red or black currants, Ian explained.

And the procedure is the same for whichever berry you choose from blackcurrants to blueberries.

Put the fruit into a pan with a little sugar and water, allow to break down for a few minutes until soft then pass through a sieve.

Most berries will also slip down easily, pureed in a pan with sugar to taste then folded into cream or yoghurt to make a summer fool.

A freshly made berry smoothie is a good way to kickstart a summer morning.

Simply put some strawberries, blueberries or mixed berries into a blender along with a ripe pear and natural yoghurt, soya yoghurt or still mineral water and whizz until smooth. For an even more sustaining version, add some sunflower seeds which have been soaked in water overnight.

But strawberries are the big summer treat and one of the tastiest ways to serve them, according to Ian, is with a splash of good quality balsamic vinegar, a leaf or two of finely chopped basil and a sprinkling of black pepper.

Mix together well and serve with a glass of chilled spirit such as grappa or vodka.

Strawberries can also be flavoured with a little raspberry vinegar; a squeeze of lime juice; a dusting of mint leaves; a shot of alcohol such as amaretto or the more traditional sprinkling of sugar.

A strawberry in one hand and a square of dark bitter chocolate in the other go down well together.

Or, when some like the fruit plain and others have a sweet tooth, serve a bowl of strawberries alongside separate dipping dishes of sugar and whipped cream.

For something more substantial, halve scones and serve open spread with a layer of strawberry jam, then a layer of whipped cream flavoured with a dash of orangewater topped with a layer of sliced strawberries and a sprinkling of mint.

When you fancy a change from plain strawberries and cream try some of Ian's easy to prepare recipes below. They make the most of the summer harvest in the most scrumptious of ways.

Recipes

Ginger berry cheesecake Serves six Ingredients 150g (6oz) ginger biscuits 100g (4oz) butter, melted one 250g (8oz) tub mascarpone cheese one teaspoon caster sugar two to three drops vanilla essence 250g (8oz) strawberries, sliced with a few left whole for decoration.

Method Crush biscuits to crumbs and mix well with melted butter.

Use mixture to line a flan dish or individual dishes and press down well.

Mix the sugar and vanilla essence into the mascarpone and spread a layer of the cheese on top ofthe biscuit base. Arrange sliced strawberries on top and finish with a whole s t r awbe r r y.

Melon and berry scoop Serves two Ingredients one small Charantais or Galia melon two scoops vanilla ice cream 100g (4oz) strawberries or mixed berries two measures creme de cassis Method Cut melon in half and scoop out seeds, leaving flesh in tact.

Put a scoop of ice cream into the well of each melon half, divide berries and place on top of the icecream then pour over the creme de cassis.

Summer pudding Serves six Ingredients 1kg (2lbs) mixed berries including a small punnet of blackcurrants slices of day old white bread or brioche to line dish and cover fruit one tablespoon sugar or to taste enough water to cover base of saucepan to prevent fruit sticking and burning.

Method Put blackcurrants in a pan with sugar and a little water and heat gently for a few minutes until they start to pop.

Add remaining fruit and heat through gently for a few minutes, then remove from heat and allow to become cold.

Line a glass bowl with bread or brioche.

Pile fruit on top and finish with a top layer of bread.

Squash down well and cover with a plate with a weight on top.

Leave to chill overnight.

CAPTION(S):

TUCKING IN Ian Young at the Greenhouse Cafe with a berry cheesecake.; PICTURE: Paul Rose
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 21, 2003
Words:885
Previous Article:Eating in: Wine.
Next Article:Eating out: Depend on the Priory.


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