Today is the second of January. It’s also the day that I’ve used to set some intentions for 2017 – this beautiful, big new year we have ahead of us. Rather than set resolutions (as i’m terrible at keeping them), I chose a word for the year and set some small goals that resonate with the theme. I feel good about it and might expand a little later in the year but for now I just want to start, especially as, after reflection, 2016 can be crowned the year of procrastination.
I’ve been in love with berry picking since forever! I remember going to a gorgeous spot in Cornwall as a kid and picking berries with the family, and wandering down country lanes and picking blackberries from the hedge. It’s also pretty interesting to me how many times I’m typing about a memory and it’s about my Grandad (Mum, maybe you’ll have to show him!)
Last week I went twice, which may seem a little excessive but I promise there has been no strawberry waste! My favourite local haunt is Garelja Bros Strawberry Garden at 83 Old North Road in Kumeu. It’s only 20 minutes out of the city and so easy to find – a friend introduced me last year and I love it. It’s not fussy and this year at just $6 a kilo it’s ridiculously cheap, and easy to get carried away – you should have seen my sink when I got home!
I decided to use my scarlet plunder to bake a Strawberry tart which I had been craving for a long time! The tart is rich, smooth and creamy but in no way does it overwhelm how juicy, ripe and perfect the strawberries are this time of year. It’s pretty much a copycat of Little and Friday’s recipe in their book ‘Celebrations’ but because I’m terrible at following a recipe it’s not quite the same. There’s a layer of raspberry chia jam under a pile of vanilla whipped cream and on top of a créme pâtissiére tart filling. There’s no blind baking as you bake the filling which is great. We even had leftovers for mini tarts, which I like a lot.
I love cooking for other people. No other way around it, I find myself swelling with happiness when someone is fed and full and content. I definitely use food to connect with people and reconnect when i’ve been a slack friend or sister or daughter. I want to try and do this every month, have an indulgent supper where it’s all about food and beautiful people.
I don’t like to plan these dinners days in advance, they’re meant to be after work easy so you can enjoy as much of your Sunday as possible – which I did. A slow morning at the pool and then the markets, collecting all sorts of fresh treats – like the fresh ricotta from Il Casaro. Their cheeses are gorgeous. You can find them at Parnell Farmers Markets, behind the library on the weekends. Sample a few if you can, I am just itching for an occasion to try their black mozzarella! I had to fit the ricotta into dinner somehow and what better way than simply with strawberries and a little sweetener. I also had a hankering for gratin so picked up some kumara and also grabbed some courgette to make a simple salad. Of course we had bread too because i’m a huge fan of dinner with lots of bits to pick and dip!
There’s a few recipes today so i’ll keep the chat short. We had supper for two plus some leftovers for lunch on Monday (don’t miss out on the leftovers!). Everything is optional and because it’s the end of the week remember to just use what you have – if you have potatoes not kumara, that’s ok, just cook for longer. Same thing if you don’t have cream or milk, just use what you have up to the total liquid amount (the gratin is simple and doesn’t use a béchamel, which I always find a little too heavy). Do make an effort to get fresh ricotta for dessert though, it melts in your mouth and you won’t regret it!