This week, the boys and I have been busy fruit-picking. We've gathered huge juicy blackberries from the secret spot down the hill from our house, and on Saturday the whole family took a trip to a local pick-your-own farm to fill up a basket with gloriously red and sweet-scented strawberries.
The strawberries were destined for jam (I used Nigella's recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess. It was delicious, but her use of preserving sugar rather than jam sugar meant that it turned out runnier than I would have liked.)
The blackberries were used to make Blackberry Vodka, which should be ready by Christmas, assuming that D and I can resist it until then!
The leftover berries I combined with a couple of handfuls of redcurrants from the garden to make one of my summer stalwarts (yet another one from my book of hand scrawled recipes and magazine clippings)...
Summer Berry Mascarpone Tart
For the base:
375g lemon, orange or ginger biscuits
For the filling:
2 large eggs
2 tbsp golden caster sugar
a few drops vanilla extract
grated zest of half an orange
For the fruit:
250g strawberries or cherries
150g currants (white, red or black)
You will need a shallow, loose-bottomed tart tin, about 22cm in diameter.
To make the crumb base: melt the butter, crush the biscuits to fine crumbs then stir the crumbs into the butter. Tip into the tart tin and push over the base and up the sides. Leave to set in the fridge for 20 minutes.
To make the filling: Separate the eggs, put the yolks in a food mixer with the sugar and beat until smooth, then mix in the mascarpone, a drop or 2 vanilla extract and 1 tsp or so grated orange zest. Beat the egg whites until stiff, then fold them gently into the mixture with large metal spoon. Scoop into the tart case, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate again for an hour or more.
Hull the strawberries or stone the cherries and cut into pieces. Mix the fruits together and place them carefully on the tart. Cover gently with clingfilm and return to the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Longer will not hurt.
Serve and devour.