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Filming at Billy Scott’s strawberry farm in Hawke’s Bay for the third episode of my TV show made me feel like a kid all over again.
Surrounded by fields of fat, sweet strawberries, I just couldn’t stop picking them. Everywhere I looked there was always another perfectly ripe, juicy strawberry just over there… and another… and another. Before I knew it I had picked (and eaten) way too many. But then, how often in life do you get the chance to overindulge like this, right at the source of such fresh, sweet goodness? The tummy ache on the way home was worth it!
The Hawke’s Bay climate and soils make it an incredible food bowl, and with so many good harvests on offer it’s not surprising that so many food artisans have made it their home. Whether it’s boutique olive oil, organic asparagus or the sweetest of cured meats, you can find it in the Bay. The Sunday morning farmers’ market at the Hastings showgrounds is legendary, and twice a year the Food and Wine Classic festival hosts a huge range of exciting food and wine experiences.
When I got back to my cabin I used some of Billy’s strawberries a gorgeous Strawberry Fool. If you watch the demo closely you’ll see that I sprinkle a crunchy Pistachio Praline on the top – but when it came time to edit the show we just couldn’t fit this recipe in, so I’ve loaded it to my YouTube channel instead. Click here to try it for yourself. It keeps for weeks in an airtight container and is a versatile topping or garnish for any sweet dessert.
You may have noticed that I love recipes like this, which can be used in a multitude of ways, and they have become somewhat of a signature of my cooking style. I call them Fridge Fixings, so whenever you see this name you know you’re onto a really useful recipe that will make it super easy to transform everyday ingredients into something special. Another Fridge Fixing favourite is my Crispy Shallots. You can buy these at Asian supermarkets, but they’re so much nicer freshly made. That recipe’s on YouTube too. I like to serve them over the Udon Noodle Salad I make as a side dish in this episode.
Back home in my own garden I shared all the learnings from Billy’s berry patch when I showed how to grow a bumper strawberry harvest in my Tui Garden Project. In episode four I hunt for truffles then cook a spectacular feast of roast turkey with individual brown sugar pavlovas. See you then!
find out more
Want to find out more about this episode? Check out the TV pages of my website for videos, bonus recipes and behind-the-scenes photos.
My new book containing all the recipes from this episode and the rest of the series is available now at all good book sellers nationwide or via my website shop. Buy it at Paper Plus to receive a free biscuit tin – while stocks last!
- Want to meet me in person? I'll be taking my trusty yellow truck and hitting the road between now and the end of December, demonstrating Tui Garden Projects from the show, signing books and cooking up a storm throughout New Zealand and also in Tasmania, Sydney and Melbourne – see my full schedule
- Find out more about Season One of The Free Range Cook
- Find out more about Season Two of The Free Range Cook: Simple Pleasures
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