Berries and currants of all shapes and colours are on the menu in abundance at all our homes, this month. Perhaps the most joyful thing about cooking in July is the sheer lack of it. Summer berries fit the bill perfectly, their sweet perfume and distinctive juicy tartness and depth of flavour are not to be missed. Cherry juice running down chins and elbows is one of the highlights of the summer harvest.
Try buying a gooseberry in January – you simply can’t; they are one of the truly seasonal berries we have left. They have a short harvest, starting with the small tart, bristly berries that need cooking and sugar to reveal their edible charms, before moving on to the softer and sweeter red varieties. On the menu at The Beacon this month, try the Iberico porkchop with Jersey Royals, apple & gooseberry paired with a glass of Sancerre, Domaine Les Chaumes to complement the tart fruitiness of the gooseberry and cut through the richness of the pork. And to keep the berry theme follow with the blackberry bavarois and lemon sorbet paired with a glass of Sauternes Castelnau du Sudiraut.
Kentish strawberries are, of course, the seasonal star, their scarlet sweetness transformed in to luscious ice creams, sorbets and countless variations of strawberries and cream. The perfume and flavour of a ripe strawberry works with mint, basil and tarragon, while star anise, black pepper and rose water also make happy partners.
Try this recipe at home for baked vanilla cheesecake, strawberry sorbet, maple jelly and almond crumble by head chef Tom Genty at The Swan at Chapel Down.
This rich cheesecake needs a night in the fridge so make the day before eating. Serve with strawberry sorbet and fresh berries.
500g full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
175g golden caster sugar
50g creme fraiche
50g double cream
45g white chocolate
1 vanilla pod, split and scraped
20g lemon juice
Combine and heat, whisking until the sugar is dissolved. Put into an ice cream maker to churn and put in the freezer until needed.
75g ground almonds
75g plain flour
90g demerara sugar
70g cold unsalted butter, cubed
Mix all ingredients together and bake at 170c for 30 minutes until golden, stirring occasionally.
Heat the oven to 140.c and line the bottom of a 23cm spring form pan with parchment paper.
Heat the double cream to scalding point and pour over the white chocolate, mix gently and leave to melt together and leave to cool. Whisk the remaining ingredients together until smooth and just combined. Combine the chocolate mix with the cream cheese mix, don’t overbeat, the mixture should be creamy, smooth and light.
For the base melt 60g unsalted butter and combine with 100g crushed digestive biscuit crumbs and a pinch of salt. When combined, press evenly into the spring form pan. Chill for 20 minutes in the fridge and then pour in the cheesecake mix and bake for 40 minutes until set, but still with a slight wobble in the middle. Leave to cool in the turned off oven for 2 hours and then refrigerate overnight.
For the maple jelly start by soaking 1 ½ gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 minutes. Boil 150ml maple jelly and 150ml water and stir in the softened gelatine. Leave to cool and pour over the chilled cheesecake in a thin layer.
Once cool, portion the cheesecake with a hot clean knife and serve with a scoop of strawberry sorbet, a spoonful of crumble and a few fresh strawberries.