Sunday, September 2, 2007

Recipe of the week: Strawberries Romanoff (liqueur-marinated strawberries)

Named for the Russian royal family, so it is at least 90+ years old, quite a bit older if this website has the story right (check out the variations they give).

This is a classic dessert dish that can be found in a number of different variations and seems to be quite popular – at least considering that I got more than 50 thousand hits when I googled it.

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Original recipe: (as it is in the book – I make no claims to its being the authentic original recipe)

Serves: 4 persons.
Prep time: Under 15 minutes.
Standing time: 30-40 minutes.

1/2 kg (1 lb) fresh strawberries
2 tbs sugar
200 ml (approx. 4/5 cup) freshly pressed orange juice
3-4 tbs Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur (e.g. Cointreau or Curaçao)
100-200 ml (2/5-4/5 cups) whipping cream

Wash the strawberries and reserve 4 large ones. Hull the rest. Cut the hulled berries into slices, sprinkle with sugar and divide between four tall dessert glasses or highball glasses.

Mix together orange juice and liqueur and pour over the strawberries. Cover and refrigerate for 30-40 minutes.

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Whip the cream until it is thickened but not stiff and top the dessert with it. Decorate with the whole berries and serve.

I only made 1/4 recipe, which was enough for two small dessert glasses.

After 1 hour and 30 minutes, which is about triple the marinating time given in the recipe, the tastes of Grand Marnier, orange juice and strawberries had not blended well. There was a strong, almost raw taste of cognac that didn't at all go with the rest of the ingredients. I also thought the dessert could do with a touch more sweetness, so I added a teaspoon of sugar to the other glass, lightly bruising the strawberry slices when I stirred in the sugar. Then I gave it an hour more to marinate.

After the extra hour the taste at first seemed the same, but when I stirred up the mixture and tasted it again, it became evident that the cause of the overly strong cognac taste was that it had begin to separate and the Grand Marnier had floated to the top while the orange juice sank to the bottom. Stirring melded the flavours and the result was quite good: not too strong a cognac flavour like the previous serving, and a little sweeter. Quite good, in fact. There did seem to be an awful lot of marinating liquid left in the glass when I had finished the strawberries – another time I would reduce the liquid.

Alterations that suit my tastebuds:
Increase the sugar to 3 tbs (for a whole recipe), or reduce the liquid by 1/4. Marinate for 2 hours minimum. Stir up the mixture before adding the cream and then serve immediately.

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Here's another good recipe that pairs strawberries and Grand Marnier: Drunken Strawberries:
Inject whole strawberries with Grand Marnier or other liqueur of your choice (go in under the hull so the hole will not be seen), dip in melted chocolate and cool for at least 2 hours before serving. Will keep for up to 24 hours.

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