I was so happy to see Romanian strawberries this weekend… so many beautiful easy recipes…and it's well worth buying the local ones, because they do have more fragrance and taste than those flown in. I bought some gorgeous strawberries at the Matache market and topped up with extras at the Autogara market in Baneasa. It's also great to see some Romanian strawberries available in supermarkets these days. I think the brand is “Nedelco” - as, let's face it, we don’t always have time to visit a real market...
A particular rare delight I would recommend- if traveling in the mountains where sometimes people are selling the small wild strawberries or “fragute”; buy them – so fragile and fleeting, that the only thing to do is consume them immediately!
The partnership of strawberries and cream is of course a classic. Luckily Romania is blessed with the superstar of the dairy world: the buffalo. Buffalo milk is 60 percent higher in calcium and has half the cholesterol of cow’s milk. Its super creamy feel comes from its smaller size fat molecules – all in all, a wonderful lactose treasure trove. For anyone who can’t drive up to Transylvania, there is a wonderful specialty shop on 44 Stefan Cel Mare boulevard that sells superlative quality dairy products, including 'smantana de bivolita' and 'yaourt de bivolita.' Both need nothing more than some icing sugar and a heap of strawberries to create a perfect dessert.
I keep toying with strawberries and basil in various combinations as the herb really works well with them. Try blitzing up some strawberries to a puree, add some shredded basil, chopped strawberries and some lime zest to make fresh strawberry salsa to pour over ice cream, panna cotta or said divine buffalo sour cream. Add some pieces of meringue and for an instant 'Eton Mess' dessert.
One of my favorite things to do with fresh fresh 'Urda' ( a local type of cheese) is to slice some strawberries over it and drizzle honey over the lot ...simple and delicious.
At a loss what to serve guests as a cocktail? A Strawberry Bellini is what is required! - blend some strawberries and add a bottle of prosecco carefully, so as not to lose all the bubbles – delicious!
One of the most simple and easy ice creams I made last year and I am about to make again was a yoghurt based ice. Simplicity itself and no special equipment needed. Make it with any good quality yoghurt if sheep’s yoghurt is unavailable.
Strawberry and Sheep's Milk Frozen Yogurt
500g strawberries, hulled and sliced
125g (or 75g fructose)
Juice of half a lemon
350g sheep's milk yogurt
Blend the strawberries, lemon juice and sugar. Whisk in the sheep's milk yogurt and freeze in ice cream machine, or freezer, and after 1.5 hours disturb the mixture with a fork to break up the ice crystals. Refreshing and delicious, I think I am going to try a version with some basil in!
By Rachel Sargent, guest writer
Rachel Sargent is the chef and owner of the London Street Bakery, which offers healthy seasonal food. More about it here.