Strawberry & Hazelnut Meringue Semifreddo –  Happy 1st Birthday Food & the Fabulous

You’d think, that even if your life was a maze and you’re the little mouse scuttling along, sprinting to make deadlines, wielding blunt sabres to attack the growing email inbox with Marilyn Monroe curves, it’s so voluptuous, and to generally make the household meals on time, your blog would be the one place of pristine order and a pervading sense of calm.

Food and the Fabulous wears a 50’s style design, an ode to Julia Child and consequently, you’d be forgiven for thinking I’m making calls with one hand and stirring the bouef bourguignon with the other while rolling my eyes at the same time.

Our 1st birthday came and went on the 9th of September. I did not miss the anniversary date, I spent some time reflecting on where I started (with tweets of the food I prepared), why (a record of sorts/a place to develop recipes and my writing/to engage with an interesting community) and how (initially with push-button blogger as the platform).

Did I bake a complicated chocolate cake and plonk a candle on, photograph and capture it weeks in advance in readiness for the blogoversary?

No.

Did I compose the reflective yet witty post on my best, worst, prettiest images and most challenging moments?

Nope.

Sadly, Julia Child I am not.

I won’t hang my head in shame, though I have considered it. The blog seems to be running at the same pace as my life – too much to do, too little done and just when I reach a point of vaguely manageable, I’m developing more recipes, eating at more restaurants and organising the drafts folder all the way from here till….”is it still relevant?”.

Strawberries, I think are very relevant. A big, fat (have you seen the size of these puppies in the markets and supermarkets lately?) indication of spring having sprung and a change of season. I have seen and lived many changes and fulfilling adventures over the past year with Food and the Fabulous.

The year in links

And speaking of relevant changes and adventures, here’s a list of some of the highlights of my year in food bloggery:

  • In the very beginning, there were lamb chops (note point and shoot picture taken with flash. I think it’s awesome!).
  • The Ultimate Mushroom Burger, my non conformist thoughts on Meat Free Monday and more bad pictures.
  • My first featured post, appeared on Barcelona the Offside blog and I dedicated a range of cracker canapés to our football boys.
  • The latest featured posts were the Food Blogger Dinners we hosted for the World Food Programme and my Double Mushroom & Champagne Risotto for O Magazine blog.
  • A goose-bump moment, meeting Ferran Adria in his Barcelona Tickets Bar this year.
  • Attending the enlightening Plate to Page Workshop in Germany this May and walking away with a bunch of new friends.
  • I started blogging on Food 24 with this Prawn Madras Curry, with the aim of demystifying Indian cooking. Was a popular post.
There were also, the fantastic cooking classes with some of the best Chefs and cooks, extravagant meals and food travels, all of which I still need to update, that have made this year so special.

For the bloggers & Readers

I never had any intention of meeting actual humans, in the flesh because of the blog. I didn’t even fathom it possible.
But, I have met a wide and varied community of busy folk like myself (many of whom are far better than I, at managing time and probably faster typists and less lazy overall). Busy, fun, funny and the not so funny. Helpful, talented, experienced and the beginners, like me. From all professions and walks of life, with differing aims.
The technology at our disposal is truly an incredible thing; the power it has to lift us off our seats wherever we may be and propel us directly into the kitchens and markets and restaurants of our blogging friends often takes my breath away. I am, after all, still a child of the eighties.
While I find myself an ardent supporter of Twitter and Facebook (though the last week has been a touch-and-go relationship, I will admit), it’s the individuals behind the tech that make the difference for me.
You are the reason, I will leave my very cozy fireplace on a blustery Cape Town winter’s evening and go out to an event to meet with you, spend a precious Saturday saved for household chores at a market, Tuesday evenings when my football games are on, at a restaurant with no big screen, and why I’ll come over for a long weekend to visit you in your country.
It’s  because of you – the bloggers and readers, that I haven’t thrown in the towel (even though so few of you subscribe to my RSS feed, she said sobbing and looking accusingly around the room), that I continue learning skills I never imagined I’d find fascinating like photography and installing widgets and other IT black magic.
You inspire me with your can-do and make-do attitude, your spunk and your incredible wealth of knowledge.
Thank you, darlings!

And back now to the delightful strawberries – I partnered them with Italian caramelised hazelnut meringues from Caffe Milano in a semifreddo that is bound to delight. What’s more, there are no eggs in this recipe, unlike the James Martin Berry Nougat Semifreddo I featured before, so it couldn’t be simpler to make.

*Note pics were taken on a very hot day- it’s hard to keep frozen desserts solid in the heat*

Ingredients

Serves 4

1 tub (250 ml) mascarpone cheese

1 tub (250 ml) whipping cream

175 ml condensed milk

1/2 t vanilla extract

5 large strawberries, sliced

8 small hazelnut meringues, crushed (or small coffee/caramel meringues and 1/2 cup roasted hazel nuts broken)

 

Method

Mix the mascarpone with a beater (by hand or in a processor) till smooth.

Add the condensed milk and vanilla extract to the mascarpone and continue beating till fully mixed.

Whip the fresh cream till firm in a separate bowl.

Fold the fresh cream into the mascarpone, by hand, first with a  few spoonfuls to loosen the mascarpone.

Add remainder of fresh cream and very gently fold in, until incorporated.

Add the sliced strawberries and meringues and fold through.

Line a freezer proof dish or tin with cling film.

Pour the cheese/cream mix in, cover the top with cling film and freeze for four hours or until set.

You may also serve in individual dishes like I did, greasing the inside of the dish lightly with spray and cook


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