The last couple of years have seen some of the best berries I have ever grown: small, dark and deeply flavoured. But all too often the strawberries I find in my shopping basket can disappoint and need some help in the kitchen to be truly delicious. Slicing the fruit, tossing it with caster sugar and leaving it for an hour to gather its thoughts certainly helps, as does eating it slightly warm from an hour left on a sunny windowsill. Marriages that will tease out its qualities are those involving pistachios, red wine and the meanest grinding of black pepper.

Curiously, a dash of raspberry juice will work wonders, bringing richness to even the dullest strawberry. A luscious presentation might involve crushing a handful of raspberries with a cup of softly whipped cream, then folding in the whole strawberries. This week I came up with a simpler way to make a strawberry shine – dressing it with a raspberry sugar.

A mint and raspberry sugar for strawberries Remove the green hulls from the strawberries, then slice each fruit into three or four. Put the sugar into a food processor, add the mint leaves and pulse till the mint appears as tiny green flecks. Drop in the raspberries and blitz till the sugar has turned pale pink. Scatter a spoonful of the sugar over the sliced berries, toss very gently, then set aside for about twenty minutes.

Serve in bowls, scattered with the remaining raspberry mint sugar.

Enough for 4

Even more interesting, I think, and less sweet, is a version using just raspberries. Put the strawberries in a bowl. Reduce an equal amount of raspberries to a purée with a little lemon juice and sugar. Cut a few more raspberries in half and toss them with the purée.   Spoon it over the strawberries and serve.

strawberries: 400g
caster sugar: 100g
mint leaves: 8
raspberries: 4

From Nigel Slater comes a beautiful and inspiring companion volume to the acclaimed Kitchen Diaries.

Kitchen Diaries was one of the most acclaimed food books of recent times. With Kitchen Diaries II: A Year of Simple Cooking, Nigel Slater returns to this inspiring structure – recording the food he buys, prepares, eats and shares throughout the year.

With more than 300 recipes, many from his hugely successful TV series, Simple Suppers, Kitchen Diaries II is full of classic Slater ideas, from a cider loaf to start the New Year, to an indulgent chicken and leek pie or a simple, fresh salad of pears and bitter leaves.

Nigel Slater is the authour of a collection of bestselling books, including Real Fast Food and Real Cooking and the award-winning Appetite. His autobiography, Toast, won six major awards, including the British Biography of the Year, the Glenfiddich Award and the André Simon Memorial Award.

Published by Harper Collins RRP $59.99

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