I was recently on a cruise in the Baltic Sea and spent three days in St. Petersburg where we toured the Hermitage Museum known for its collection of more than three million works of art among five buildings, one of which was the Winter Palace of Czar Nicholas II, a member of Russia’s Romanov family.
While many people think Strawberries Romanoff was created for the Romanov family by their royal chef, they would be wrong. This dessert was originally created by Auguste Escoffier and known as “Strawberries Americaine Style” when he was Chef at the Carlton Hotel in London in the 1920s. Around the mid 1940’s Escoffier’s recipe was “borrowed” by Prince Michael Romanoff (he was actually an actor and considered a “professional imposter” as there was no royal blood in his family). But he did know how to publicize his restaurant and promote a wonderful dessert, Strawberries Romanoff. The recipe lives on long after his death in 1971 and is still considered a classic when it comes to summer entertaining.Ingredients: 2-1/2 cups of strawberries – hulled and cut in half or quarters if large 3 Tbl Cointreau 3 Tbl granulated sugar 1 Tbl orange zest 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 1 cup heavy cream for whipping 1 pint of vanilla ice cream Shortbread cookies
1. Place strawberries in colander – hull them, rinse and cut in half, or into quarters if very large. Set aside.
2. Whip the heavy cream adding two teaspoons of the sugar and the vanilla to the cream while whipping. Whip till twice in volume and firm.
3. Sprinkle remaining sugar over strawberries and add the Cointreau (some recipes use Grand Marnier – I prefer Cointreau as I don’t want the liqueur to overpower the fresh and bright taste of the strawberries). Let stand for about 10 minutes before adding to dessert glasses.
4. Add small scoop of softened ice cream in bottom of glass (I used Margarita glasses).
5. Pile on the strawberries, and add a heaping tablespoon of whipped cream. Using a microplane zester, zest about 1/2 teaspoon of orange on top. Tuck in a shortbread cookie to finish it off.
And since I did take some cool photos while visiting the Winter Palace and Hermitage Museum I will do a post later this week to share some of the amazing art work on display in this museum – just unbelievable the wealth of art housed in one museum – overwhelming in fact!