Strawberries should not be tampered with. They should not be stuck in crumbles, muffins or other doughy goods. They should be eaten simply and with just a bit of sweetness - sugar, cream, a hint of citrus and mint. Period. Finito.
It seems such a waste to have them buried in layers of sweet pasty. I mean, really, anything tastes good in pastry year round, so why go through all that trouble cranking up the oven in June just to have something pale and mushy adorning your cake?
Leave 'em alone, I say. Keep 'em fresh and brilliantly red. Smoothies, hot compote over ice cream, sure, why not? But stick them in the oven for an hour. Oh, please don't.
Sometimes I fiddle around with a shortcake recipe upon which to pile a mound of sliced and sweetened berries on top. Recently, though, I neglected to notice the words 'self-rising' in front of the word 'flour' in the shortcake recipe. Needless to say, I had a pan of flat and crisply burned discs in the oven.
The light at the end of it all turned out to be a tub of ricotta cheese in the fridge. It had went unused after last-weekends overly-ambitious idea of freshly made tortellini never came to fruition.
This dish, sweetened with maple syrup, brings a refreshing and earthy change to the strawberries and cream duo. This is a fantastic do-ahead item. Just take them out of the fridge 15 minutes before serving, as the flavours in the cream are best mildly cold.
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Recipe: Strawberries with Ricotta Cream
Adapted from SELF, April 2007
Eat with any sparkling white (i.e. Prosecco)
2 cups strawberries
2 Tb raspberry cordial (or any sweet syrup/juice)
8 oz (250g) ricotta cheese
5 Tb maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Mash up half the strawberries in a blender or with a potato masher, or whatever you got. Add in the cordial syrup. Pour into 4 glasses and stick in the fridge while you get that cream mixed. Stick the ricotta, maple syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla in a bowl and mix well.
Gently spoon the cream in the middle, and top with fresh mint.
Dobrou Chut'/ Enjoy.