Inspiration is easy when you’re overlooking the Mediterranean, and it’s fair to say that I’ve been inspired on every one of my visits to the South of France. Whether it’s running with the hills of Haute Provençe as my backdrop, perusing the beaches of Saint-Tropez, or exploring Sunday markets in St-Maxime, there is no shortage of beauty along the French coastal strip and the mountains that surround it.
Our last few visits to France have pretty much been family reunions. For the past couple of summers, my beautiful sister-in-law has welcomed us into the villa she’s called her summer home since she was a little girl. With a sea view that dreams are made of, the Villa remains a hidden gem within the lush Côte d’Azur landscape – an idyllic piece of paradise, and one that definitely shifts me into a holiday frame of mind.
While in the South, we eat (and do we ever eat well!) and can rest assured knowing that a chilled glass of rosé is never too far behind. With beautiful artisanal breads, cheese that would blow your mind, and a butcher that knows meat like it’s nobody’s business – there is never a shortage of great food for us to feast on.
As a family who loves to cook, having access to seasonal and impeccably fresh ingredients at our doorstep makes our holiday even more pleasurable. I’m convinced that the joie de vivre that’s synonymous with French culture is largely due to the pride, care and tradition behind its beautifully produced food.
The fruit and vegetable market is always a highlight when we’re on holiday, and I was reminded of our last trip when I was looking through pictures on my iphone just the other day. One picture in particular made me stop dead in my tracks. Punnets of perfectly plump fresh berries with the unmistakable sweet smell of summer brought me right back to the Côte d’Azur. Did they look so good that I wanted to swallow my phone right then and there? A huge, unapologetic YES!
It’s the beginning of strawberry season in Provençe. Since wild strawberries are making their way to farmers markets, I think it’s totally a propos to share a recipe that does justice to this gorgeous, succulent fruit. Summer is on the horizon, so why not bring on the heat with a fresh and easy strawberry ice cream?
Super simple to make, there are only a few key ingredients in this recipe. Use the sweetest strawberries you can get your hands on, and if you happen to find some that are deliciously sweet like the ones I had in France, pick up a couple of extra pounds to freeze for future ice creams, smoothies, or jams. You’ll be glad you did.
* Keep in mind that you will need to freeze the strawberries before proceeding with the recipe.
Hot Pink Strawberry Ice Cream (makes approximately 600 grams)
You will need a food processor, a large plate, parchment or wax paper, ice cream machine (optional), freezer-safe containers for the ice cream.
- 450 grams fresh strawberries, washed, drained, and stems removed
- ¾ cup superfine or caster sugar (you might need a little more or less sugar depending on the sweetness of the strawberries. It’s best to taste as you go!)
- 50 ml milk
- 50 ml whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
Place a piece of parchment paper on a large plate. Cut strawberries in half or in quarters and put them on the paper. Freeze until firm (this can be done a few hours or up to several weeks in advance).
Remove the strawberries from the freezer. Give them a quick rinse in a colander to slightly soften. Drain well.
Put the strawberries in a food processor, and pulse until coarsely chopped.
Add the sugar, and process until the strawberries turn from bright red to hot pink.
Combine the milk and cream together, and gradually add it to the strawberries.
Add the vanilla extract and lemon juice, pulse to combine.
At this point you have two choices. Either put the ice cream mixture into an ice cream machine and churn for 20 minutes OR immediately put the ice cream into a freezer-safe container and put in the freezer. The ice cream will be slightly denser if you don’t use the ice cream machine, but it will still taste absolutely delicious.
Freeze the ice cream until it reaches a scoop-able consistency and try not to eat it all in one sitting!