We’ve just come back from a perfect week in Sardinia. Neither of us had been there before and we didn’t really have any particular expectations. What we wanted was a week of lazy sunshine; a chance to get a bit of space from the frantic everyday of our lives.
We got that and far, far more. We ate well (a little too well at times) and spent hour after hour talking or reading or, my favourite, just watching the sea and the sky. It was a week lived in technicolour, from the startling orange of my nightly aperol spritz to the multitude of blues and greens that formed the backdrop to our week.
Now that we’re back in London, everything seems rather grey and flat. I look a the pictures I took for the blog before we went away and they all seem so dull, so lacking in the life and vitality that I’ve got used to. I remember feeling like this when we got back from our extended trip to California a couple of years ago – it takes a while to re-adjust to the more muted tones of London.
June seems to have crept up on me this year – the last few months have been a heady blur of travel and late nights and jumping from project to project. I feel like I blinked and, all of a sudden, it’s summer. The weekend before we went on holiday, we bought our first strawberries of the year. Some we ate as is, grabbing a couple every time we wandered into the kitchen. The rest, I roasted with a touch of honey and a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar until they were sticky puddles of juice and then pureed in my food processor. I’d planned to drizzle this over ice cream but in a moment of reckless and long weekend induced abandon, I decided to make margaritas instead.
I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who gets home from work and nonchalantly pours themselves a cocktail of an evening. In truth, we generally just have water at home and our drinks cabinet is labouring under the weight of strange liqueurs that we once bought for a party and haven’t touched since.
Like many people who think they don’t like tequila, my memories of it – cheap shots, preceded by a lick of salt and followed by a wedge of lime to take away as much of the taste as possible – are firmly rooted in my formative years and it has taken a good few years for me to move on. Now, I am quite partial to a margarita or two (but have, through experience, learnt that two is my limit). Although I don’t often make cocktails at home, one of the great advantages is being able to tweak the ingredients and quantities to suit your tastes. Whilst I generally tend to make pretty strong drinks (as a number of my friends can attest to…), these margaritas are a touch more mellow. Heavy on the fruit, with a burst of acidity from the lime juice and the underlying bitterness of the tequila and served over lots and lots of ice, they are slightly more fitting for a Sunday afternoon.
Have some strawberries but don’t want to get mildly tipsy on a Sunday afternoon? Here are some other strawberry recipes that have caught my eye recently:
roasted strawberry-miso ice cream // strawberry-oat cacao muffins // strawberry crumble with oats, hazelnut and elderflower // strawberry vanilla bean buttermilk cake // strawberry cream roll // strawberry maple cornbread cake // triple berry salad
Last year, I fell in love with starwberries, gently roasted in the oven with a touch of balsamic vinegar. My obsession shows no sign of abating this year. Whilst you could make a fresh strawberry puree here, I really like the depth of flavour and sweetness that you get from roasting them first. I also find that it makes the finished drink plenty sweet enough so you don't need any agave/honey/sugar syrup. Contrary to my reputation for making the strongest cocktails known to man, these are actually pretty fruit heavy but my measurements are just a guide really. I always think you should add a little and then just keep playing.
- 400g (about 3 - 4 cups) strawberries, washed and hulled
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 120ml (1/2 cup) tequila
- 60ml (1/4 cup) lime juice
- 60ml (1/4 cup) cointreau
- To make the strawberry puree, preheat the oven to 170C/325F and place the strawberries in a baking dish with the honey and vinegar. Roast for about 35 minutes until squishy. Allow to cool before transferring to a blender or food processor to whizz until smooth. If you are so inclined, you can then sieve the puree so it's smooth but I didn't bother.
- To make the margaritas, put about 2/3 of the strawberry puree in a jug or large cocktail shaker, add the other ingredients, along with lots of ice, and shake well to combine. Have a taste to see if you need more strawberries (or, indeed, more tequila/any of the other ingredients). I ended up using pretty much all the strawberry puree to make some relatively weak margaritas, suitable for sipping on a Sunday afternoon.