Don’t you just love this time of year, after more than eight months of resisting the urge to buy imported strawberries at exorbitant prices, the New Zealand Strawberry season is here at last. I realise that I’m a bit of a masochist as I also avoid the first few weeks of the season as quite frankly they lack in flavour and the last thing I want after waiting so long is to be disappointed.
What is it with a strawberry that makes us all feel happy? Maybe it’s just the promise of summer reflected in the perfect redness or that exquisite aroma as you bite into a freshly picked one still warm from the sun.
Preparing strawberries is a delicate task, as they really don’t like being washed in water. If you must then wash very briefly before hulling them as once the little plug of leaves is out, water can get in and spoil the fruit. Alternatively try washing them in orange juice; you’ll be astonished at the enhancement of the flavour.
The recipe today is an all time standby, put simply 10 minutes to make and 10 minutes to bake, couldn’t be easier. You’ll notice the addition of basil leaves, trust me its not a typo. We often forget our herbs with sweets and its a shame as they can add so much, strawberries need a bit of natural acid to bring out their sweetness so give it a try, you’ll love the result.
Swiss Meringue Roulade
6 egg whites
150g caster sugar
50g flaked almonds
Preheat the oven to 220˚C. Line a swiss roll tray with baking parchment. Whisk egg whites until very stiff. Gradually add sugar a little at a time. Spread on the lined tray and sprinkle with flaked almonds. Bake for about 10 minutes.
Sprinkle the surface with icing sugar and invert onto another sheet of parchment and cool. Remove cooked baking parchment in strips. Spread with whipped cream, strawberries and basil leaves. Using the new parchment, roll into the swiss roll shape and serve.
A sweet wine is the obvious choice with this, but for me the strawberries need the acidic sharpness of a good cold Sauvignon Blanc li the one from Bird wines.