Most people love strawberries, meringues and cream, but not me. I just don’t get on well with the cream, yet I love the idea and the ‘Englishness’ of the Mess. My version uses natural yoghurt with a little vanilla added, but you could use lightly whipped cream if you prefer. If you can get some wild strawberries, they make an excellent addition, while the balsamic, cress, thyme and pepper add a flavour punch, as well as being visually exciting.Talking of which, my aim here was to make the whole thing to look like a Jackson Pollock painting.Serves: 4 peopleCooking time: 1 hr (or 10 mins if you buy meringues)Ingredients2 punnets of strawberries, 1 halved, 1 puréed with a little sugar100ml natural yoghurt, with a little vanilla extract added4 fist-sized meringues, bought or home-madeA few thyme sprigs1 small bunch of salad cressA small bottle of balsamic syrup (or make your own by reducing 100ml of balsamic until you have a syrup)2 tbsp olive oilA pinch of freshly ground black pepperMethod
- Hull one punnet of strawberries and put in a blender with a pinch of sugar. Blitz until smooth and put in the fridge while you assemble the rest.
- Crush half the meringues and lightly break the other half. Scatter on a plate or board and add the strawberries. Give it a twist of pepper, and sprinkle over the thyme and cress. Spoon over the yoghurt and purée, then pour over the balsamic syrup and serve immediately.
How to food style it
- This one is great fun to do and is just like being back at school with some paints. A dark, rectangular surface really helps the reds and whites stand out; I used slate here.
- This is a question of balance on the plate, keep everything well defined by not piling it up or putting it too close together.
- Be really free and loose with the sauces, don’t be scared to make a mess and make bold, sweeping strokes with them.