Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Strawberry King of Kent


I was in London recently on business and was fortunate enough to be able to escape each night back to the village where my parents live in Kent.   It made the hot, sweaty experience of the 'big smoke' a little more bearable particularly so as my parents live surrounded by woodland, hops and fruit farms.  
I didn't however have to make a visit to the nearest farm to pick my own strawberries as my dad is officially (in mine and Phil's book anyway), the Strawberry King of Kent.  At the top of my parents garden are rows and rows of strawberries glistening in the July sunshine.  I really couldn't believe it this year when my dad rolled back the protective netting (which actually doesn't protect much from the local gang of blackbirds but then my dad really doesn't mind too much).  The plants are positively heaving under the weight this year.
So what's his secret?  Well, I don't think even he knows.  He did originally buy the plants from the local fruit farmer and he does swear by growing them under black plastic.   I also know he does use my comfrey feed but I think he might have run out of that by the time this years crop came along.  He is just good at growing strawberries and I am more that happy to help him make the best use of the surplus. 
I left for home in Cornwall with 8 punnets.  As soon as I arrived home (despite the 5 hour drive) I immediately set about sorting out and freezing half of these for the winter larder.  Then strawberry ice cream was made followed by a strawberry cheesecake.  The rest is to be enjoyed fresh or in smoothies.  I decided against jam this year as I already have a cupboard full from last years crop (minus what I took to Kent for my parents). 
When the Cornish winter throws sea sprayed wind against the window and the fresh produce of the summer is a long lost memory,  I will rejoice in pulling from the freezer these red, summer sunshine trapped jewels direct from the grower; my dad, the Strawberry King of Kent.
 Strawberry Cheesecake
The amounts for this recipe are approximate as I just normally 'bung' it together so I have really had to think hard to try and break it down into a recipe!
200g vegan digestive biscuits (such as Doves Farm Organic) - either half a big pack or a whole small pack
100g vegan margarine
1 tub (225g) Vegan Cream Cheese (such as Tofutti Original)
125g of Vegan Plain Yoghurt
6 teaspoons of Vegeset (or equivalent veggie setting agent such as Agar)- separated
500g Strawberries
A squeeze of agave to sweeten/taste
1.  Whizz up the biccies in a blender until a fine crumb.
2.  Meanwhile melt the marg.
3.  Add the melted marg to the biscuit crumb and combine until well mixed.
4.  Press mixture into greased flan dish (or any dish you want as it isn't baked).
5.  Put cream cheese and yoghurt in the blender and whizz together. 
6.  Add 3 teaspoons of the Vegeset and about 6 strawberries to the blender and whizz until well mixed.
7.  Heat the above mixture in a saucepan until it starts to thicken.
8.  Pour onto biscuit base and smooth to edges.
9.  Whizz up rest of the strawberries, agave, a splash of water and the remaining vegeset.
10. Heat up the strawberry mixture until it starts to thicken.
11.Pour on top of the cheesecake and smooth out.
12. Allow to cool and bung in the fridge until set. 

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