Berries & cherries
The best of summer.

June was rainy, so we had some nice plump strawberries. Since July, however, it has been hot hot hot.
Still, plenty of blackcurrants, red and golden raspberries, red gooseberries. Black raspberries were not as plentiful, but it's only been a year since we planted it.
Seen above in the fifth and sixth row, gooseberry pudding and panna cotta with sour cherry compote.

Blackcurrant trifle
consisting of

Blackcurrant mousse*
Sponge cake
Whipped cream

*Click for Blackcurrant mousse recipe.

I created this recipe two years ago. For a magazine. It's about time to post it.

It is a bit fiddly and it requires two cake tins or rings (20cm and 23cm) if you want to achieve the look.
But it is seriously tasty, looks effective and can be prepared about a week in advance.
Ideal in this hot weather we're having.

Frozen strawberry torte

1 sponge bottom, about a centimetre thick

Zabaglione layer
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp sugar
90ml brandy
1 vanilla pod
2 gelatine sheets
200ml double cream
1 tbsp icing sugar

Strawberry layer
300g strawberries
2 tbsp liquid glucose
2 gelatine sheets

Mousse layer
3 egg whites
5 tbsp sugar
300ml double cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
400g strawberries
4 gelatine sheets

Make the zabaglione by whisking egg yolks with brandy, sugar and vanilla over a water bath until it turns into a pale fluffy foam. Soak gelatine sheets in cold water, squeeze and add to the egg foam. Mix until gelatine has melted. Take off the heat and let cool, stirring occasionally.
Whisk double cream to soft peaks with icing sugar. Fold into cooled zabaglione.

Take the biscuit sponge and using the 20cm cake ring cut it into a circle to fit inside the ring. Before fitting it in there, take some cling film and wrap the base so no liquids could seep out. Now place the sponge inside the tin/ring. Pour the zabaglione on top. Tap the tin to even the surface of the zabaglione. Cover and place in the freezer.

While it hardens, prepare the strawberry purée. Take a quarter of the purée, mix it with liquid glucose and heat to 50C in the microwave. Soak gelatine sheets in cold water, squeeze and add to the heated purée. Stir until melted. Add to the rest of the purée and let cool.

Take the cake tin from the freezer and pour a layer of purée. Cover and put it back into the freezer.

Take the 23cm cake tin/ring and wrap with cling film.

Lastly, prepare the strawberry mousse.
For that, purée the strawberries. Soak gelatine sheets in cold water. Heat a quarter of the purée, squeeze the gelatine sheets and mix into the warm purée until melted. Add to the rest of the purée. Whisk egg whites to stiff peaks with sugar and whisk double cream to soft peaks with icing sugar. Now stir all three parts together, the egg white, the cream and the purée.

Take the smaller tin from the freezer, the contents of which should now have hardened, and remove the ring. Place the frozen cake layers in the centre of the larger tin. Pour the mousse on top, ensuring that the gap between the tin and the frozen layers gets correctly filled, tap the tin very carefully.
Cover and place in the freezer.

It can then be served after a couple of hours of freezing or left in the freezer for up to a week (just place in the regular fridge about an hour before serving).

I've been growing asparagus for a few years now and they seem to be producing more and more stalks every year. This year I even had to throw a kilo or two of stalks in the bin because if you do not keep an eye on them, I mean really keep an eye on them all day long, they will surprise you by shooting off into outer space just like that.

When the season begins to approach I usually check for stalks once a day before lunch. Until now this has been sufficient. But this spring it clearly wasn't. Stalks that would look tiny (about 6cm) in the evening or noon, would stun me with their 70cm growth the next morning!

And of course once the season draws to an end and you've eaten quite a bit of asparagus, you might just get a bit lazy too and let them run wild...

Asparagus and triple cheese tarts

about 24 asparagus stalks, trimmed to suitable lengths
lemon juice
400g puff pastry
100g feta cheese
100g cream cheese
100g grated cheese, Cheddar or the like
milk and egg for brushing

First, either steam the asparagus spears for 3 minutes or put them into a bowl and just pour some boiling water from the kettle and let them blanch for a minute or so. This only works with fresh asparagus. When using store bought, should add a couple more minutes to the steaming time.
Drain asparagus and toss with some lemon juice.

Mix together cream cheese and grated cheese. Season with a pinch of pepper. Salt shouldn't be neccessary as the cheese is salty enough.

Roll out the pastry and cut into eight squares or disks. Score the pastry around the edges to create a 1cm border.
Divide the Cheddar mixture between the eight pastry pieces. Add nicely trimmed asparagus spears.
Brush edges with egg and milk mixture. Crumble feta and sprinkle on top.

Bake in a 200C oven for about 12 minutes.

Serve with a salad of your choice.