The Little Island Kitchen – Strawberries

Glistening like rubies beneath a canopy of frothy white flowers and verdant foliage, the Island strawberry is the jewel in the crown of a PEI summer. Socials are planned at just about every church hall, and shortcakes start making their way into ovens as these little beauties reach their peak in mid- to late July, and who can blame us? With a honeyed fragrance that wafts in on a breeze and the perfect balance of tart and sweet, local strawberries at their finest are simply irresistible.

My Strawberry Scallop Ceviche is a fun and fast starter or snack that pairs the creamy sweetness of PEI scallops with the balanced tartness of strawberries to fine effect. Ceviche, or citrus-cured seafood and fish, is an ancient dish that’s still popular all over the Caribbean and Latin America. With some of the world’s best seafood on our doorstep it’s high time we gave this millennia-old technique a try ourselves. When dealing with seafood in this way, however, it’s important to remember a few food safety notes. First, always use previously frozen scallops to remove the risk of certain parasites. Second, once the scallops are thawed make sure to prepare and serve the ceviche immediately. The longer it sits in the lime juice, the tougher the pieces of scallop will become. With its zesty, creamy tartness, contrasting textures, and a gentle, warming heat in the background, this lightning-fast dish is great at any kind of summer gathering.

For those more interested in a classic sweet recipe for strawberries, look no further than my Strawberry, White Chocolate, and Matcha Pavlovas. The light-as-air matcha green tea meringues add lovely grassy notes to the rich cream and sweet strawberries. The lime zest ties it all together for a combination that really sings, nevermind a colour combination that’s straight out of a summer garden. Though meringues can be finicky beasts, if you take a bit of time and care to get acquainted with the recipe and the clues to look for, you can whip these up for your next dinner party or strawberry social. The best part is, if the meringues do go flat, you can always smash them up and call the whole thing Eton Mess—it’s a win-win!

My dishes this month certainly err on the delicate side, but I believe strawberries are one of those special things that are best when handled as simply as possible and paired with a few carefully-selected flavours that enhance their natural splendour. And though merely dipping these scarlet baubles in sugar isn’t even necessary when peak strawberry season rolls around, I think these two recipes are winning combinations that celebrate their innate majesty as queen of summer fruits. Cheers!

Strawberry Scallop Ceviche

Serves 2 as a starter, 4 as a snack with drinks / 20 minutes
8 medium PEI strawberries
10-12 PEI scallops (previously frozen)
1 small shallot (or ½ of a larger one)
1 small red chilli
2” English cucumber
1 big handful cilantro leaves
Juice of 1-2 limes (about 1/3 cup)
1 pinch sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Tortilla chips to serve

Photo Credit: Paige Matthie

1. Finely dice the shallot, chilli, and cucumber and add to a bowl with the lime juice and salt.

2. Dice the strawberries a bit larger than the shallots and add to the bowl.

Photo Credit: Paige Matthie

3. Slice the scallops into 3-4 discs each and add to the dressing, ensuring the scallops are well-coated with the lime juice. Leave to cure for 3-5 minutes depending on how rare you want them.

4. Meanwhile, chop the cilantro and add to the bowl 1 minute before the end of curing time.

5. Serve immediately with tortilla chips and your favourite summer beverage!


Photo Credit: Paige Matthie

Strawberry, White Chocolate, and Matcha Pavlovas

Makes 16 nests /Serves 8
3 – 4 egg whites
200 g & 1 tbsp superfine sugar
1 ½ tsp matcha green tea
½ tsp vinegar (for bowl & whisk)
1 pint of strawberries, halved
zest of 1 lime
200 ml whipping cream
50 g white chocolate

Photo Credit: Paige Matthie

1. Preheat oven to 200ºC / 400ºF and make the meringue. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and spread the 200g of sugar out on the tray. Warm in the oven until the edges of the sugar just start to melt, about 2-3 minutes. Watch very closely or else you’ll have a pool of caramel! Remove from the oven.

2. Next, clean your mixing bowl and beaters by wiping down with a bit of vinegar and paper towel. This will ensure no traces of oil remain to interfere with your egg whites. Add your egg whites and beat on a low speed, gradually increasing the speed until you’ve got stiff peaks. Be careful not to overbeat to the point where they look like bath suds, otherwise you’ll have to start again. Begin adding the sugar from the baking tray 1 tsp at a time on a high speed. Continue until all the sugar is mixed in and the meringue is thick and glossy. Beat until all the sugar is dissolved and you can’t feel any granules between two fingers when you rub a bit together. Add your matcha and GENTLY fold it into the mixture.


Photo Credit: Paige Matthie

3. Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper. Fill a piping bag with an open star tip and pipe the mixture out into 16 nest shaped meringues on the baking trays. Alternatively, you can also spoon the mixture out and make a little dent in the middle of each if you don’t have a piping bag. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the meringues come away cleanly from the parchment paper.

4. While the meringues are cooking, halve the berries and macerate in a bowl with the remaining tablespoon of sugar and the lime zest.

5. Next, make the white chocolate cream. Bring a couple of inches of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Break up your chocolate and put in a metal or glass bowl. When the water has reached boiling, remove it from the heat and place the bowl with the broken-up white chocolate over the steam. Stir constantly until melted. In a separate bowl, beat your cream until it forms firm peaks and add 1/3 of your cream to the chocolate. Stir together to lighten the chocolate mixture, then add it all back into the rest of the cream and fold in gently.

6. Once the meringues are baked, prepare the pavlovas by spooning 1 tbsp of the cream into the meringue nests and add a few berries. Add another layer by stacking a 2nd meringue nest and adding a bit more cream and a couple of berries to the top. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Photo Credit: Paige Matthie