Strawberry pots de crème
Serves 4

250g very ripe strawberries,
hulled and sliced
3 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
75g caster sugar
2 scant tbspn Cointreau (or
Grand Marnier)
300ml double cream
Extra very cold double cream,
to serve

Pre-heat the oven to 150˚C/gas mark 2. Tip the strawberries into a liquidiser, then add the egg yolks, whole eggs, sugar and chosen liqueur. Purée until very smooth and then pass through a fine sieve into a bowl, while pressing down well with the back of a small ladle, so removing the strawberry seeds.

Stir in the cream until thoroughly well blended, then pour into four ramekins.Place these into a deep roasting tin and fill with tap-hot water until it comes at least three-quarters up the sides of the ramekins. Carefully slide onto the middle shelf of the oven and loosely cover with a sheet of tin foil, but don’t clamp it around the tin, otherwise the water within will become too hot. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until firm when lightly touched with a finger.

Remove the pots from the oven and discard the foil. After about five minutes, remove them from the tin and allow to cool completely. Now, tightly cover each pot with a little square of clingfilm before putting in the fridge for at least two hours.

Serve with a jug of very cold double cream.

* Subscribe to Country Life and save; Get the Ipad edition

Eton mess
Serves 4

The meringue recipe will make more meringues than you will need for this recipe. The remainder can be stored in an airtight plastic box for future occasions -and who isn’t happy to have a stash of meringues stored away?

Also, just a quick word regarding the whipped cream, here. Something I learned many years ago was how much finer a bowl of slightly sweetened whipped cream would turn out when
a modicum of crushed ice is employed in the process.

Firstly, cream kept very cold while being agitated hugely reduces the risk of it splitting. Secondly, as the cream slowly becomes thicker and thicker as it’s beaten, the ice quietly melts into the cream, making it almost mousse-like, very light and-as someone once so perfectly described it-‘as an insubstantial cloud’.

Essentially, this is a proper crème Chantilly and, for me, also the ideal texture for a proper Eton mess, too.

Note: hand whisking will always produce a finer-textured Chantilly than electrically
beaten. It takes longer, naturally, and employs a little elbow grease but, be assured, you will be astonished by the difference.

For the meringues

4 egg whites
A pinch salt
225g caster sugar
A little softened butter
Plain flour
For the crème Chantilly
300ml very cold double cream
125ml very cold whipping cream
75g icing sugar
2-3tbspn crushed ice
1tspn vanilla extract

400g strawberries, hulled andcut in half, or thickly sliced if they’re large

Pre-heat the oven to 140˚C/gas mark 1.

Using a scrupulously clean mixing bowl, whip the egg whites with the salt until soft but able to hold a peak. Beat in the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until glossy and stiff.

Lightly grease a flat baking tray with the butter and sift a spoonful of flour over it. Shake around a bit to disperse the flour as an even coating and then tap off the excess. I’ve always found this coating to be a most effective non-stick method and is something I learnt as a teenage apprentice.

Spoon out the meringue mixture onto the baking sheet using tablespoons. Bake in the oven for about 1-1½ hours; I like meringues to be a pale, golden colour, once baked. Leave to cool for a few minutes before removing them from the baking tray and then placing on a wire rack to cool.

Pour the creams into a roomy glass bowl (if possible, one that will also look good presented
at table) and add the remaining ingredients.

Using a large balloon whisk, beat the cream in leisurely swooping movements, bringing the cream up from the base of the bowl, over and over, rather than in a simple circular fashion -this will add infinitely more air to the Chantilly and result in that essential ‘cloud’.

Once the cream is beginning to thicken, take great care and slow down the whisking. Once it’s only just holding the spokes of the whisk, stop beating before you add the meringues and strawberries; the very act of adding these will further agitate the cream, so thickening it further.

To finish the mess, take 6-7 meringues and break into small pieces. Carefully fold them into the cream in batches. Once all are mixed in, fold in the strawberries, once again, in batches.

Serve without delay. For me, a good Eton mess doesn’t hang around, as the crunch of the meringue softens quickly.

* Follow Country Life property on Twitter