Posted by: daviemacdonald | February 20, 2011

Strawberries, Maggie Bear and Sweet Balsamic Vinegar


cookingStrawberries, Maggie Bear and Balsamic Vinegar

I am sure I saw Maggie Bear introduce this recipe with Simon on ABC’s The Cook and the Chef.

I have scanned this DVD of recipes but it isn’t there and so it might be on a later series.

The Cook and the Chef DVD

The Cook and the Chef DVD

You would probably be thinking that given some of the other stuff I post my interest in food might be something of a surprise. Well it is a surprise to me too. I find it fascinating to see and read all the great sharing of recipes tips you can find on the web.

politicsIn fact I was amazed to see my comrade and friend Scot McF posting a recipe for ANZAC biscuits on his facebook the other day. This may not be new for Scott but since I saw that entry on face book it seems he is quite the Jamie Oliver. I will post his bickies recipe here soon as they will go nicely with my Queen Mary tea blend. I have secured his permission and my modest comrade said it wasn’t his anyway.

I think it’s great that those of us males on the left of politics can “come out” as “Foodies” Perhaps this has been the case for years and I’ve just been a pleb all this time. What I can say is I just love Maggie Bear and her straight forward cooking style and from time to time will post simple bloke like *recipes

When I was a boy strawberries were something of a luxury. Coming round but once a year for a couple of weeks in June in London. I would use my dinner money to buy a bag of strawberries on the way to my secondary school Eltham Green. I’d spend the school bus fare too. The cheapest to buy were those for making jam. So it was jam ones I bought. It was a long walk to school though well over 5 miles but every step was a pleasure 🙂

Me 1962 obviously not after a 5 mile walk

So to my meager offering today.

Strawberries and Balsamic Vinegar with huge dollops of Cream

Today this is the healthy high fat zone

We need Strawberries

Without any shadow of doubt, it’s best to eat strawberries in their natural state. Served fresh they add a nutritional edge to all meals and snacks. It is a fruit that is high in fibre.

I am going to make you feel okay about the dollops of cream you will consume with this sweet little dish. Promise

Did you know Eating only 8 strawberries per day is only 45 calories Don’t ask what size the strawberries are as where I got this info from it didn’t say…so let,s keep moving . My mouth is watering already as I know what the end result will taste like.

Strawberries will lead you to a healthier heart and strengthen memory. One serving will provide you with 3 grams of fibre out of a recommended 20-30 grams per day.

Dietary fibre is known to lower blood cholesterol, decrease the risk of heart disease and promote a healthy digestive system. Studies show that people who eat high amounts of fibre have lower risks of cardiovascular disease.

So why balsamic vinegar?

Italian Balsamic Vinegar

I don’t know what happens to the taste buds but certainly when combined with sugar the effect in the mouth is amazing visually it deepens and brings out the beautiful colour of the berries, and truly enhances their flavour.

Ingredients

1 punnet of strawberries? Are you kidding when you get your laughing gear round these strawberries you will want 2 punnets? Trust me on this.

You need sugar, either castor which is intensely sweet or if you are really “healthy” raw soft brown sugar which gives a slightly more caramel finish

Whatever you choose you need about 4 tablespoons, though I must say I just get the sugar jar and shake it over the fruit and say when. Yes I’m that exact with my measurements In one recipe I saw it suggested a cup which seems rather a lot.

Now we need the Balsamic vinegar Now the recipe I found said to get the best but frankly to me Balsamic vinegar all tastes the same. Oh dear am I done for now? Well this is what I have for my effort

Oh yum 2 punnets of Strawberries

You need (officially) I have read 2 table spoons per punnet. But again I use the shake it all about approach and with bottle in hand say when. I promise it works every time and creates a slightly different flavour each production run. More vinegar more juice.

Cream: Make sure the double cream is not artificially thickened.ead the labels you can get caught out on this

I recommend either of the following

If you are looking for Value for Money this cream on the left perfectly good from Aldi. Its thick and…… it is very thick

Next is Cream from Gippsland  You could if at a local IGA, Woolworths, or Coles choose this cream. Be aware that many of the Double Creams like Pura have thickeners. Nothing wrong with this and in fact the gelatin they contain might be good for your nails and hair, but they aint naturally thick.

The third  cream is Brambah Organics. I first came across this in the little shops at Griffith Canberra. This is sensational and not to be event sniffed at if you are carrying to much or want to lose some excess pudding. You can get this from Thomas Dux and Harris Farm. The pot on display is single I made an error when picking it off the shelf ooops.

The final one today is Country Valley. If you want to support a local producer in Canberra or Sydney you can find these with the 2 lads at Mitchell Markets Canberra or Eveleigh Street Markets Newtown near Macdonald Town 🙂 or Tomas Dux food stores.  Being so local it has a freshness all its own. It occurs to me perhaps I should do a Cream review and add a few more to the pot

Natures own Decadence

Preparation

1)    Get the berries. You did check the bottom of the punnet didn’t you for squashy ones. Start to remove the stems (hulled) and leaf material known as the calyx and cut in half or into quarters depending on the size of the strawberries.

At this point it’s not a bad idea to keep a check on the quality of the fruit from time to time. It’s easy to just pop one in your mouth as you go.

Just remember we started out with 2 punnets and for this to all work we need to be close to that amount by the time the preparation has finished. Make sure no one is looking though when taste testing. It’s also not a good look so refrain from sucking your fingers as you do this.

2)      Place the sliced berries in a medium non-reactive bowl (such as glass). I suppose if you put them into aluminum the vinegar starts to corrode the surface. What would I know? So a glass bowl it is for you though I always use a normal bowl such as you have at the local Thai restaurant when having a green chicken curry.

3)      Sprinkle the berries with the sugar and drizzle ( me I just splash) the balsamic vinegar over the fruit, and toss gently to coat.

Allow the berries to macerate in the vinegar and sugar mixture for about 15 minutes. Macerate is a posh word for softening .You do not want the fruit all soggy so keep this period short. The suggestion is leave them at room temperature but I’m not sure this a great idea when its 30- 40c

Tossed in sugar and balsamic

Serve in bowls and allow your guest to dollop on the Cream.

Oh Yum

Variation on a theme.

You can now experiment by doing 1 of 4 final touches.

1)      Add about 3 or 4 grinds of black pepper ( before applying cream) This give an interesting bite. Allow 2 or 3 minutes for the flavours to blend,

2)      Add some chilli and sprinkle with dark chocolate to above …..this is a wild taste.

3)      Add some mint which gives another twist to the finish

4)     Add some Blueberrys

You can always serve the berries over salad, ice cream or try them in sponge cake. But best keep it simple just serve in dishes with a lots of cream. If you live in Canberra go to the Chameleon Ice Creamery Hamblin Place, Florey ask for Rhonda. You will find the Vanilla is pretty much the best in the World!!

So what strawberries for this sweet?  Well when I decided to look into this I found out something about the varieties of strawberries we have in Australia. I knew none of this before this!

There are different varieties of strawberry plants such as Honeoye, Mount Everest, Florence, Delia, Mara de Bois, and those listed below which I understand are the ones you are most likely to come across.  I recall in Mitchell markets (where incidentally I used to spruke on Desires fine foods and a couple of time on the Chai stall with Anthea C) there were some varieties that I have not found by Google. I can say they were VERY SWEET though.

All these below are highly consumed in the world, and best known for their sweetness and available commercially in Australia. I must confess none of the names ring a bell with me from what I had seen previously when I grew my own crop in Canberra. What is written is taken directly from a Google:

Millewa Strawberry

Millewa Strawberry

An exceptionally large, mostly conical shaped fruit, bright red in colour with an outstanding flavour due to its high sugar and moderate acid level. Millewa fruits heavily during the spring-summer and again during the autumn to early winter unlike many other varieties

Kiewa.Strawberry Oct to Jan v commercial

Kiewa Strawberry

Produces an outstanding flavour and early indications are that the aroma from ripe fruit is unmatched by any other commercial variety. Available from October to January.
You can recognise Kiewa fruit by their sharply up-turned green leafy green calyx

Kalinda strawberries

Kalinda strawberries

produces the most delectable fruit when grown in warmer districts.

Adina strawberry

Adina strawberry

Apparently this variety is very close to the perfect variety for consumers according to taste panels. Highly rated for the best combination of taste, juiciness, aroma and appearance.
This bright red fruit is moderately glossy, extremely large and has a good low acid sweet flavour.

Okay so my last 2 posts were intended to be fill-ins but I just couldn’t  stop my self with the research. I get a sens of great satisfaction with that and the eriting but sadly the spelling is a bit off at times. Well you get that:-)

I am now listening to the Eric Clapton 2010 Guitar Festival I have stared on the “Music of the Revolution” and all the other things that are in various stages of completion. Must show you the place where I do all my thinking and tinkering.

Have a great day Davie

PS Don’t forget the Ice Cream Lady. This is a must any time…she is lovely too

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Responses

  1. I love strawberries in [balsamic] vinegar. Like you, I’ve rediscovered cooking and I absolutely love it. A friend sent this strawberry (with vinegar) salad recipe to me and it has been such a hit. I put more mint than the recipe states, plus I use liquid stevia in place of sugar:
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/food-and-wine/recipes/strawberry-and-cucumber-salad/article1870254/

    I visit taste spotting and/or food gawker on a daily basis and, as a result, have printed more recipes than I could ever prepare in this lifetime. 🙂 (If you’ve not seen them, you should check them out; the photography is lovely.) With all the fabulous food blogs, who needs to buy cookbooks anymore?

    From one of those sites I found this fabulous strawberry/vinegar recipe and am addicted to it (I add a little stevia to this one, too):
    http://scandifoodie.blogspot.com/2010/09/strawberry-salad-with-halloumi.html

    I recently purchased all but 2 or 3 items from the entire line of O Organic olive oils and vinegars. I don’t know if you can get them in Australia, but if you can they’re worth trying. They take vinegars to a new level. My favorites are pomegranate vinegar with blood orange infused olive oil. There’s nothing like it! http://www.ooliveoil.com/productlanding.php

    Now I’m making myself hungry.

    • Hello Well that is 2 of us who have rediscoverd cooking. I have another kitten I got last week …seems I am going your way with cats.
      Have some stuff that I may need to put a fix on. Though I’m told I don’t need to be I could be stateside for some business. I would be catching up with some “brothers” there again. So maybe I’ll pop down to you
      Have a great Day…and try making the tea:-)


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