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‘Cuban’ strawberries with Meringue Ice-cream

by on March 7, 2010
 

So, I want to clear up a few things before I get to the heart of the matter:

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  1. I know strawberries are not in ‘season’ according to the traditional food calenders.
  2. I am also very aware that there is nothing Cuban about strawberries. Don’t believe me? Well, go ahead, type Cuban strawberries in Google and see what you get!
  3. The combination notwithstanding is AMAZING. Leading me a bit tipsy when taking these photos yesterday afternoon! If you are a purist, please wait till the summer to make this. But make it…..please.

And for more on the ‘Cuban’ ingredients….read on.

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These week on Culinary tour 2010, we’re in Cuba. Thanks to Joan of Foodalogue, we’ve travelled a bit of South America and I have expanded my knowledge of geography. I now know where Cuba is….relative to Barbados…..which is where I’ll be in ten days!!!!! More on that later.

When I think Cuba, I think  Havana cigars, brown beans and lots of rum! I find it intriguing that rum was first discovered by plantation slaves in the 17th century.

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According to Wikipedia, the slaves discovered that molasses could be fermented into alcohol. Later, distillation of these alcoholic by-products concentrated the alcohol and removed impurities, producing the first true rums. Tradition suggests that rum first originated on the island of Barbados. So, I would say this started as home-brewing, till someone realised there was money to be made. In Nigeria, we have similar, but rather ‘strong’ homebrews too….ones I doubt will ever be export-traded.

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We call them all manner of names – Ogogoro, Sapele Water, ‘Push-me-I-Push-You’…..and many others. Unlike rum, Ogogoro is distilled from the juice of Raffia palm trees. In somewhat the same manner as maple syrup,  a cut is made on the tree trunk and a container (typically a gourd) is placed to collect the sap, which is removed a day or two later. The sap is boiled to steampoint and the products of condensation are collected for consumption.

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This is LETHAL stuff…..and I can’t remember, even as a rebellious teenager ever being warm to the idea of even a sniff of it. With alcohol content ranging between 30-60%, its not the poison I’d choose…..

Anyhow, that’s about the only link I can make with Cuba on this stop. Alcohol.

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From my highly treasured cookbook ‘Hot! Hot! Hot!’, I chose this recipe ‘Cuban strawberries’. The notes at the end of the recipe said ‘…..serve with genuine vanilla ice cream’. And I did.

That was my starting point, making simple, classic vanilla ice-cream into which I crushed some meringues. The strawberries were easy to lay my hands on…and making the ‘rum’ sauce was a snap. I really enjoyed putting this together because it was completely laid back and easy, save for when I flambeed my sauce but…..all part of the learning.

I made the ice-cream a couple of weeks ago, bought the strawberries the day before and the sauce literally took minutes to put together. At it was delish. Perfect for any dinner party – completely stress-free.

Here it goes. The recipes.

Cuban Strawberries

Adapted from Hot! Hot! Hot!

Ingredients

1-2 packs of strawberries
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and minced
100ml dark rum
2 tablespoons brown sugar (I used 4)
50ml water

To serve:

Vanilla Meringue Ice-Cream (recipe follows)
Mint leaves
Extra crushed meringue
 

How to

Put water in a saucepan and bring to the boil.

Mix in brown sugar, minced chilli and rum. Heat on medium high until sugar has dissolved. {Note….at this point, I decided to stir things up a bit….and ended up with flames. Not huge but enough to ‘scare me’. I guess I should remember that when cooking with alcohol, the risk of flambe is very real. Can you see the purplish and orange flames????}

IMG_6737Pour sauce over strawberries and serve with genuine vanilla ice-cream.

 

Vanilla Meringue Ice-Cream.

Adapted from Ice Cream by Pippa Cuthbert & Lindsay Cameron Wilson

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Ingredients (for 1 litre)

300ml full cream milk
1 vanilla pod (I used some vanilla powder, which I got in Copenhagen)
4 large egg yolks
100g vanilla  sugar
300ml double cream
Crushed meringues, to taste
 
How to

Put the milk and vanilla pod, split lengthwise in a medium saucepan and heat to near-boiling point. Remove from the heat and allow the vanilla to infuse for about 15 minutes.

In a separate heatproof bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar, using an electric whisk until thick and pale. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk, scraping the seeds out and gradually beat the milk into the egg mixture.

Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, and stir until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes, or more).

Remove from the heat and cover the surface directly with cling film or greaseproof paper to prevent a skin forming. Allow the custard cool completely.

Add cream, whisking well to combine.

Churn in an ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Add the crushed meringues, and serve immediately or transfer to a freezer container, with the surface directly covered with greaseproof paper or foil then freeze till ready to use.

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The verdict:

My husband wasn’t home when I finished this. Mind you, a few weeks ago, he and daughter #1, the ice-cream lovers of our home devoured half of the ice-cream. They loved it. My 6-year old said it was much better than anything we’d every bought. And she knows her ice-cream!

IMG_3614I totally loved the sauce. The ice-cream was nice but vanilla is vanilla is vanilla. And the strawberries were red and tasty too but strawberries are not my favourite fruit. I like them but I don’t go crazy about them like the afore-mentioned daughter. She’s even had me making strawberry crisps (thanks to spice and more), which I’ve tried in the Microwave and in the oven. The microwave version was nice and crisp but I was sure all the nutritional value was long gone after the 3rd minute of nuking! Hmmm. So, I went for the oven version, and ended up with nice but chewy strawberries. So we went back to the microwave version for the second time around.

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I like it as a garnish, if nothing else. I loveddddd the sauce. It  was ‘hot’, on every count. The chilli-sugar combination was terrific. Sweet and pleasantly hot, not at all fiery and the alcohol….not intensely boozy, after all I’d flambeed most of the alcohol away.

IMG_6826When I was done with the meringues and strawberries, 6 year old meringue and strawberry lover ate them up…..WITHOUT the rum sauce. So forget calling the CPS on me!!!!

IMG_6860For sure, this is one to repeat for me and I’m looking forward to trying it again in the summer when strawberries are in season……

Thanks Joan for yet another awesome stop. Now I know where Cuba is on the map!!!!!

What would I classify this recipe as, according to the descriptions Joan gave? I think this is more ‘Published Chef’ than any of the others!

  • Traditional – recreate the country’s national dish or any other traditional dish.
  • Contemporary – use a traditional recipe and make it Nuevo Latino (contemporize it).
  • Algo Nuevo (something new) – create something totally ‘your own’ by using the flavors and techniques of the destination.
  • Published Chef – follow the recipe of a published chef/author specializing in that cuisine.

Here’s a recap of where we’ve been so far and what I made:

Have a blessed week, as I will….especially ’cause I’m counting down! LOL.

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Put the milk and vanilla pod, split lengthwise in a medium saucepan and heat to near-boiling point. Remove from the heat and allow the vanilla to infuse for about 15 minutes.

In a separate heatproof bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar, using an electric whisk until thick and pale. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk, scraping the seeds out and gradually beat the milk into the egg mixture.

Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, and stir until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes, or more).

Remove from the heat and cover the surface directly with cling film or greaseproof paper to prevent a skin forming. Allow the custard cool completely.

Churn in an ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Add the crushed meringues, and serve immediately or transfer to a freezer container, with the surface directly covered with greaseproof paper or foil then freeze till ready to use.

The verdict:

My husband wasn’t home when I finished this. Mind you, a few weeks ago, he and daughter #1, the ice-cream lovers of our home devoured half of the ice-cream. They loved it. My 6-year old said it was much better than anything we’d every bought. And she knows her ice-cream!

I totally loved the sauce. The ice-cream was nice but vanilla is vanilla is vanilla. And the strawberries were red and tasty too but strawberries are not my favourite fruit. I like them but I don’t go crazy about them like the afore-mentioned daughter. She’s even had me making strawberry crisps, which I’ve tried in the Microwave and in the oven. The microwave version was nice and crisp but I was sure all the nutritional value was long gone after the 3rd minute of nuking! Hmmm. So, I went for the oven version, and ended up with nice but chewy strawberries. So we went back to the microwave version for the second time around.

I like it as a garnish, if nothing else.