13 Jun strawberry toasts + strawberry meringues
These recipes first appeared in The Irish Independent’s Insider magazine on Thursday 12th June.
There are few things sweeter in life than a mouthful of beautifully ripe Irish strawberries. Now is the time to get your hands on a punnet or two with strawberry season in full swing from now straight through til September. Throughout the summer months, you’ll often find a box of Keelings’ strawberries in the forkful fridge as we really like the fruit they produce on their family farms in Co Dublin and Co Louth. It’s easy to find Irish strawberries in the shops so make sure you make the best of the season.
Strawberry Toasts (makes 12)
These little bite-sized beauties bounce the flavour of tangy balsamic vinegar against the sweetness of seasonal strawberries. Rustle these up for friends before dinner and try to eat them outside in the sunshine if possible.
150g of Irish strawberries
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of caster sugar
4 slices of Parma ham
Handful of feta cheese
Freshly chopped mint
Start by washing and hulling the strawberries. Slice them into a mixing bowl. Add the balsamic vinegar, the caster sugar, a crack of black pepper and a sprinkling of salt before mixing well. Allow to marinate for up to an hour. This will give the strawberries time to absorb the sweet tang of the sugary balsamic and leave them with a gloriously glazed look.
Once the strawberries are ready, slice 12 small rounds from your baguette and lightly toast them on a baking tray in the oven. Cut your Parma ham slices into three pieces and layer the toasted baguette slices with one piece each. Top with the glossy balsamic strawberries.
Add a crumbling of feta and serve immediately with some freshly chopped mint on top.
Strawberry Swirl Meringues (makes 14 to 16 mini meringues)
We often depend on flukes in the forkful kitchen and we have lucked out a few times with this meringue recipe. We attribute its success to how gradually we add the sugar and also, perhaps more importantly, how we let the meringues cool completely in the oven after cooking on a very low heat. Even if you don’t achieve a gooey centre, the ripple effect makes for a very pretty dessert.
4 egg whites
1 pinch of salt
300g caster sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Red food colouring
Preheat you oven to 140c/120c fan/Gas Mark 1. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
Put the egg whites into a large and very clean bowl. Add a pinch of salt before whisking with an electric beater until the eggs have formed soft peaks. Begin to add the caster sugar to the egg whites, one tablespoon at a time, whisking on a high speed between each tablespoon. Once the sugar has been added, whisk the mixture on a high speed for a further 3 minutes or until it is glossy and forms stiff peaks.Gently fold in the vanilla extract with a large metal spoon.
Use a tablespoon to scoop mini meringues onto the prepared baking trays. For the ripple colour effect, dip a wooden skewer into the red food colouring and swirl it through your meringues. This will help you give the meringues a lovely final shape with a handsome peak in the middle.
Now bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
Turn off the oven and leave the meringues in the oven to cool completely with the oven door slightly open. This really helps achieve the crumbly outside yet gooey inside of a perfect meringue.
These will keep for up to two weeks in an airtight tin so you can make them well in advance. When you’re ready to eat them, serve them simply with sliced strawberries, whipped double cream and a bit of fresh mint to finish.