Sunday, 2 September 2007

Berry Spice

This weekend, I have been simmering down the last few punnets of strawberries and raspberries from my local greengrocer with a few brambles pinched off the local hedge. One is expensive, and one isn't. Although I hope that there is a good month left in the berry season, I always do a squirrel at this time of the year and store a few for the winter months just incase.

If I'm not freezing them whole, I always stew them in a little honey before deep freezing. Then I have a lovely sauce to pour over ice cream or an instant fruit filling for a delicious crumble once the apples come along. A blitz in the blender and pushed through a sieve, you have a sweet fruity sauce to cut through a piece of rich game. So versatile and simple.

I kept a bit back today, spiced up with a stick of cinnamon and a few cloves and piled some onto meringues with a twist - black pepper meringues. Black pepper and berries are one of those combinations that often make people pull their faces in disagreement, but if you have never combined a hot peppercorn with our favourite strawberry then you are missing out on one of life's great surprises. It works perfectly. Try it and see.

Spiced Berries on Black Pepper Meringues

Makes 6

For the meringues
3 egg whites
150g caster sugar
Half teaspoon finely ground pepper

For the berries
1 small punnet of strawberries, cleaned, hulled and quartered
1 small punnet of raspberries, cleaned
1 small punnet brambles, cleaned
6 tbsp honey
A splash of balsamic vinegar (optional)
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves

1 - Pre-heat the oven to 110 degrees C, GM quarter.
2 - Either using a hand whisk or a food mixer, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Then whisk in the black pepper and then the sugar 25g at a time until thoroughly combined and glossy.
3 - On a baking sheet, place a piece of baking parchment. If you have a piping bag, or using a plastic food bag with the corner snipped off, pipe 6 circles with raised sides approximately 7-8 centimetres in diameter. Place into the oven and bake for 90 minutes - 2 hours until cooked. Switch off the oven and leave to cool.
4 - Place all of the fruit, honey and spices into a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until the fruit has softened. Leave to cool completely then remove the spices.
5 - Whip some cream, and place into the meringues. Pile on fruit and serve.


Joanna said...

Hi David - as you say, strawbs and pepper are one of life's surprising but delicious combinations - so the idea of putting pepper into the meringue is BRILLIANT - a real, why-didn't-I-think-of-that moment ... thanks for sharing! Have you tried them with anything apart from berries?


Anonymous said...

Yum! Putting pepper into the meringue sounds like it would go really well - I like pepper with strawberries but I think it's nice to have a bit something sweet in there too

David Hall said...

Hi Joanna

I haven't as I just invented them this weekend! But I reckon they would be lovely crumbled into a fruity yoghurt ice, and with a couple left over that is exactly what I am going to do!


Cynthia said...

I remember long ago, when I had strawberry sauce for the first time, each day, I would look for stuff that I can pour the sauce on! (lol)

Figs, Bay, Wine said...

Ok, it's official. You are a genius. Black pepper meringues to go with fruit? What heaven. I actually have something coming up using black pepper with fruit, but I adore what you did with it here! And don't you love a good squirrel this time of year? It must be instinctual.Thank you for such a stunning recipe. I can not wait to try it.

susieq said...

Sounds a match made in heaven, the first Spanish strawberries are in the shops here in France, so will try this one!!! Have you any ideas what to do with the yolks?? I hate waste and often want to make meringues but don't 'cos I hate throwing out the yolks!!!
Sounds like another one for our menu. How does 'David's delicious, delectable,nest.' sound???

susieq said...

Hi David, sounds a match made in heaven!!!! Do you have any ideas what I can do with the yolks. Often wanted to make meringues but hate throwing yolks out!!! Strawberries are in the shops here in France, from Spain, so will try it out this week. Will add this to our menu, how does,
'David's delicious,delectable nest'

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