|My Strawberries Balsamic|
The 18th century French philosopher Diderot described strawberries as being like 'the tip of wet-nurses' breasts'. Thankfully he was referring to small wild strawberries, the large cultivated varieties we mostly eat today being some way in the future. I owe this knowledge to Jane Grigson, who in every chapter of her Fruit Book serves up exquisite gems of information that add enrichment to the recipes she offers. Recipes including classics such as Strawberries Romanov, Strawberry Shortcake and Soupe aux Fraises. But, this time, I turned to Jane Grigson not for one of those recipes but rather for that 'gem' to lead me in to a dish I tasted in America two decades ago. I loved it so much as soon as I got home I recreated it and have been making it every summer since.
|Strawberry munching slug|
The very best Aceto Balsamico is made from a reduction of pressed white Trebbiano grapes aged for 12, 18 or 25 years (or even more) to a thick, dark viscous syrup and is, not surprisingly, expensive. Cheaper 'balsamic vinegar' exists but it's likely to have been made from wine vinegar thickened with guar gum or cornflour and enriched and coloured with caramel. They are different beasts but all have their place, I guess.
|First pickings of the year|
Raspberries on the allotment
My Strawberries Balsamic
About 1kg (2lb) strawberries
100g (4 oz) raspberries
50g (2 oz) caster sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons water
Clean and hull the strawberries and put in a large bowl.
Put the raspberries and sugar in a bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water. Cook until the sugar dissolves and the fruit breaks up. Remove the bowl from the heat, blitz briefly with a hand blender and sieve out the raspberry pips. Mix in the balsamic and the water.
Pour the raspberry syrup over the strawberries and mix gently to coat the strawberries. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.