TASTY TREAT

Many of us grew up pick­ing the berry to en­joy in var­ied ways

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE ISLAND - Chef Ilona Daniel’s food col­umn, Food Se­duc­tress, runs on the last Thurs­day of each month. She wel­comes com­ments from read­ers by email at chef.ilona.daniel@gmail.com or on twit­ter: Twit­ter.com/chef_ilona.

Learn to make P.E.I. Straw­berry Tiny Tri­fles in this month’s Food Se­duc­tress Col­umn.

Straw­berry sea­son is a pre­cious time for most Cana­di­ans as far north a lat­i­tude as Mother Na­ture will al­low.

Many of us grew up pick­ing straw­ber­ries, dip­ping them in su­gar, scoop­ing them up in a short­cake or slather­ing these mys­ti­cal berries over freshly toasted bread. There is an aroma, too, that is note­wor­thy. When­ever I make a straw­berry jam or com­pote, I am in­stantly at my mother’s side as a lit­tle girl as she pre­pares the Hun­gar­ian ver­sion of a crepe while the straw­berry sauce she pre­pared cools nearby on the counter.

We all have our own spe­cial straw­berry mem­o­ries, and when I asked chef Brad MacDon­ald at the helm of the Brick­house Kitchen and Bar in his­toric down­town Char­lot­te­town, I looked for­ward to hear­ing about his con­nec­tion to the once wild and now uni­ver­sally cul­ti­vated in­side-out del­i­cate crim­son berry.

When it comes to the best way to en­joy straw­ber­ries, MacDon­ald is a purist: “I am a tra­di­tion­al­ist when it comes to straw­ber­ries. I love them in sea­son and sim­ple. I don’t like to com­pli­cate them and I def­i­nitely want the nat­u­rally sweet straw­berry taste to stand on its own. One of my favourite things ever since I can re­mem­ber is my mother’s straw­berry freezer jam on toast, a heav­enly way to start a day.”

MacDon­ald has an affin­ity to the pas­try arts, and his con­fec­tions are es­pe­cially a favourite of his fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram. His straw­berry tiny tri­fles are a great ex­am­ple of his play­ful ap­proach to cre­at­ing a dish.

“I think that some­times as a chef it is easy to turn in­ward and for­get that at the end of the day you are mak­ing some­one’s meal. I want to cre­ate a mem­ory for the guests, give them a story to tell and maybe have my guests see some­thing they thought was or­di­nary be­come beau­ti­ful.”

MacDon­ald’s Tiny Tri­fles can be made up to two days ahead, travel well and are a per­fect end­ing to any out­door sum­mer gath­er­ing.

P.E.I. Straw­berry Tiny Tri­fles

Pas­try cream:

8 eggs

4 egg yolks

1 cup su­gar

1 tsp. salt

¼ cup corn­starch

1 L 4% whole milk

1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out

Whipped Cream

500 ml whip­ping cream

½ Cup Su­gar

Straw­berry Com­pote

2 pints P.E.I. Straw­ber­ries diced

¼ Cup Su­gar

10 500 ml Mason Jars

Maple syrup

Pound cake

Choco­late sauce (op­tional)

Grand Marnier (op­tional)

In a saucepan heat the milk un­til the sur­face of the milk barely starts to move then re­move from heat.

Com­bine the eggs, egg yolks, su­gar, salt and corn­starch in a mix­ing bowl and us­ing the whisk at­tach­ment, blend un­til smooth ap­prox­i­mately three min­utes.

Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg mix­ture and whisk for one minute.

Pour the mix­ture into a heavy bot­tom sauce pot and place over medium heat.

Us­ing a wooden spoon stir con­tin­u­ously un­til the mix­ture just comes to a boil, there may be some small bub­bles work up to the top. Slice and scrap the vanilla bean plac­ing the seeds in the pas­try cream and whisk un­til well com­bined. Pour the pas­try cream into a bowl and cover the sur­face with plas­tic wrap. Pierce the plas­tic wrap with a small knife or wooden skewer and set aside to cool. When the pas­try cream is room tem­per­a­ture place in the re­frig­er­a­tor.

Slice the cake into ¼ inch slices then cut rounds us­ing a round cookie cut­ter the same di­am­e­ter as the Mason jars un­til you have twenty rounds. Cover and set aside.

Mix the straw­ber­ries with the su­gar and set aside. A nice op­tion if de­sired is to add a splash of Grand marnier to the berries at this point as well.

Whip the cream and su­gar with a whisk un­til soft peaks have formed. Put some of the pas­try cream into a pip­ing bag. Place some of the whipped cream into a pip­ing bag. Brush the cake rounds with maple syrup to moisten. To as­sem­ble the tri­fles pipe a ¼ inch layer of the chilled pas­try cream into the mason jars then a cake round then straw­ber­ries and fol­low with a ¼ inch layer of the whipped cream. Re­peat al­ter­nat­ing all of the lay­ers un­til the jars are full.

If tak­ing them on a pic­nic or out­side place the lid on the jars and chill. If serv­ing at home you can pipe some of the whipped cream above the tops then chill and driz­zle with choco­late sauce if de­sired when serv­ing. Pro tip: Whisk the corn­starch with the eggs and su­gar to avoid lumps and burn­ing your pas­try cream.

MITCH MACDON­ALD/THE GUARDIAN

Brick­house chef Brad MacDon­ald and Guardian colum­nist and chef Ilona Daniel show some of MacDon­ald’s P.E.I. Straw­berry Tiny Tri­fles made with fresh Is­land berries. The dessert can be can be made up to two days ahead and can be sealed for easy travel if placed in Mason jars.

MITCH MACDON­ALD/THE GUARDIAN

Sev­eral lay­ers of pas­try cream, whipped cream, straw­berry com­pote and pound cake with maple syrup packed into a Mason jar cre­ates an easy-to-travel with dessert for sum­mer par­ties.

MITCH MACDON­ALD/THE GUARDIAN

Brick­house chef Brad MacDon­ald tops his tiny tri­fles with some straw­berry com­pote. The recipe for the com­pote is sim­ple with only two ingredients, which MacDon­ald says lets the nat­u­ral straw­berry taste stand out on its own.

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