SET EWE’S CURD, ENGLISH STRAWBERRIES AND LOVAGE FROM THE GARDEN

For me, the unmistakable perfume of English strawberries is synonymous with summer and brings back memories that many of us share – strawberry picking as a child. This week, I am letting you into the secrets of one of my favourite dishes straight from our current lunch menu at Midsummer House, giving you the chance to recreate something really magical at home.

Lovage and strawberries work so well together. For those of you who haven’t come across lovage, it looks like a young celery branch with leaves, and in fact tastes like a slightly spicy celery. It gives the dish a slightly aromatic note that balances out the sweetness perfectly! You can find lovage at most farmers’ markets throughout the spring and summer. Years ago, we used to set yoghurt with condensed milk. Mark, my Head Chef at Midsummer House, had worked on developing this idea using the ewe’s curd adding a whole new depth of flavour, and the dish was born.

Strawberry sorbet 

Ingredients:     

  • 500g strawberry purée
  • 75g sugar
  • 3g ascorbic acid or 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 200ml water
  • 50 lovage
  • 30g Sosa Procrema (this can be ordered online – it can be omitted if not found but it does improve the texture of the ice cream)

Method:

  1. Place purée, sugar, acid and water in pan and heat till 80 C.
  2. Add lovage to the mix and cling film.  Allow to infuse for 30 minutes.   
  3. Pass the base through a fine sieve. 
  4. Place in blender with the Sosa Procrema (if using) and blend.
  5. Pour into an ice cream maker and churn until ready. If not using an ice cream maker, pour into a plastic container and place in the freezer. Stir every 30 minutes until set. This will help to break up the ice crystals.

Set ewe’s curd 

Ingredients:

  • 300g ewe’s curd yoghurt (you can use natural yoghurt if you wish)
  • 100g condensed milk
  • 2g salt
  • 3g ascorbic acid or 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 3 leaves bronze leaf gelatin, soaked

Method:

  1. Place all ingredients together except the gelatin and mix together.
  2. Heat 50g of the mix in a small pan and add gelatin to dissolve.
  3. Add altogether and stir.
  4. Line 4 x 7cm rings with cling film.  Lightly oil each lined ring.             
  5. Pour 60g of mix into each ring.  Place all the filled rings in a deep tray and cling film tightly.  
  6. Cook in a 70 C oven for 30 minutes and then chill in fridge.

Strawberry consommé 

Ingredients:

  • 1kg fresh strawberries 
  • 100g sugar  

Method:

  1. Remove stalk from strawberries and place in bowl with sugar that sits on top of a medium pan.  Cling film very tightly and half fill the pan with water. 
  2. Place pan on the heat and bring water to the boil with bowl on top.  Simmer the pan for 4 hours making sure not to boil dry. 
  3. Allow to cool slightly and pass through a fine sieve onto double muslin. 

Strawberry jelly 

Ingredients:

  • 100g of strawberry consommé
  • 1 leaf of bronze leaf gelatin, soaked

Method:

  1. Warm the consommé and add gelatin to dissolve.  Pass through fine sieve.  
  2. Allow to cool but not set.
  3. Pour 20 g on top of the ewe’s curd.  Set in fridge. 

Lovage oil 

Ingredients:

  • 100g picked lovage 
  • 80 oil 

Method:

  1. Bring a pan of water to the boil and blanch the lovage for 30 seconds.  Refresh in ice water.
  2. When cold, remove the lovage from the ice and dry in a cloth.
  3. Put oil and lovage together in blender and blend for 1 minute.   
  4. Pass through a fine sieve. 

Strawberry crisps

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium strawberries  
  • 50g water 
  • 50g sugar 

Method:

  1. Bring water and sugar to the boil to make a stock syrup. 
  2. Slice strawberries 2 mm thick. 
  3. Coat slices in syrup and lay flat on a Silpat or nonstick baking sheet and dry at 60 C for 4 hours until crisp.

Lovage crisps 

Ingredients:

  • 20 large lovage leaves
  • 50g water 
  • 50 sugar 

Method:

  1. Bring water and sugar to the boil to make a syrup. 
  2. Dip the leaves in the syrup and place on Silpat.  Dry at 50 C for 3 hours until crisp.

Garnish 

Ingredients:

  • 3g sosa yoghurt crispies
  • 2g sosa strawberry crispies or freeze-dried strawberries
  • 4 strawberries, cut into quarters
  • 4 strawberries, diced in 3 mm cubes and toss with half a teaspoon of the lovage oil

Method:

  1. Remove the curds from the rings and cut in half.  Cover the jelly with both strawberry and yoghurt crispies.  Place on plate.
  2. Place the ring back around the curd and spoon the diced strawberry in the other side. 
  3. Put 3 individual quarters of fresh strawberry on top of the curd, then add lovage and strawberry crisps between. 
  4. Place a quenelle of strawberry sorbet on top of the dice of strawberry.
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