Summer berries

For Mad & Bolig, a beautiful Danish magazine about lifestyle, travel and food, Martina Bianchini and I developed and photographed 6 recipes with summer berries. This feature was published in the July edition of 2018.

Eton mess with ricotta, raspberries, rosewater meringue and pistachio

verdenius eton mess

Eton mess is a traditional English dessert with meringue, fruit and cream. Raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, peaches, you can use any kind of fruit you like or combine a few.  The combination of rosewater, pistachio nuts and fresh mint give this variant a nice 1001 nights-effect!

Serves 4

2 eggwhites
110 g + 2 tbsp sugar
1,5 tbsp rosewater
125 g raspberries + extra to serve
25 g pistachio
1 tbsp fresh mint + extra to serve
150 g cream
250 g ricotta
1 tbsp honey

1 Begin with making the meringue. Preheat the oven to 120C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Put the eggwhites in a small bowl; beat with a hand mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the sugar one spoon at a time and beat until the grains of sugar have dissolved completely before you add the next. Gently fold in the rosewater.
2 With a spatula, spread out the meringue over the whole surface of the lined baking tray. Bake for an hour and let cool completely.
3 In the meantime, make the raspberry coulis. Put the raspberries with the sugar and 3 tablespoons of water in a small pot. Let simmer for about 10 minutes until the raspberries have fallen apart into segments and the sauce becomes thick. Let cool.
4 Roast the pistachios in a dry frying pan for a couple of minutes, then chop them roughly. Chop the mint.
5 Whip the cream until firm. In another bowl, loosen up the ricotta and add the honey. Now gently fold in the cream. Add the chopped mint, pistachios, and small chunks of the meringue and fold it all through. Finally, fold in the raspberry coulis, but don’t mix it completely to get a marmered effect. Serve in bowls or glasses and garnish with fresh raspberries and mint tops.

TIP: Visit your local cheese shop for good quality ricotta. It makes a difference between day and night with the ones from the supermarket.

2. Coconut risotto with cardamom, toasted coconut and roasted currants

This variation on rice pudding tastes even more rich and creamy because of the constant stir that releases all the starch in the grains of rice.

verdenius coconut risotto

Serves 3/4

125 g red, white or black currants
2 tablespoons of honey, plus extra for the roasted currants
400 ml milk
400 ml coconut milk
5 cardamom pods, slightly crushed
60 g sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp coconut oil
100 g risotto rice, like arborio or carnaroli
20 g coconut flakes
Optional: freeze dried blackcurrant powder

1 Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Lay the currants on the tray and drizzle with the honey.
2 In a pot, heat up the milk, coconut milk, cardamom pots, sugar and salt. Leave on a very low heat.
3 In another pan, heat the coconut oil on medium heat and fry the rice until the grains get slightly translucent. Add the first ladle of the milk mixture, keep stirring, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed until adding the next. It will take around 20 minutes for the rice to be cooked, you might not need all of the milk mixture. When the rice is cooked, make sure that the risotto is still a bit runny. The more it cools down, the dryer it will get.
4 In the meantime, toast the coconut flakes in a dry frying pan until they start to colour. Remove from the pan to avoid burning them.
5 When the rice is nearly cooked, bake the currants with some honey in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until they start to wrinkle a bit.
6 Serve the hot or lukewarm risotto in bowls with the baked currants on top and sprinkle with toasted coconut flakes and, if you like, some freeze dried blackcurrant powder.

TIP: As you would add wine to a traditional risotto after toasting the rice, you can add 2 tbsp of coconut rum to this desert risotto for an extra intense coconut flavour.


3. Frozen yoghurt layer cake

This cake is a true showstopper and easy to prepare. Choose your favorite fruits and follow the recipe. If you’d like to create more layers in different fruits, just divide the eggwhite mixture into more parts and mix with the fruit.

verdenius layered berry yoghurt cake

For 1 cake


500 g yoghurt
250 g blackberries
250 g raspberries
250 g strawberries
4 eggwhites
115 g honey
Pinch of salt
½ lemon, juiced
Freeze dried raspberry powder to serve

1 Put a muslin or linen towel into a strainer, pour in the yoghurt and tie at the top. Put the strainer in a bowl and strain the yoghurt in the fridge for at least one hour, but ideally overnight.
2 Line a loaf tin with cling film. Blend all three fruits separately into purees.
In a large, heatproof bowl, combine eggwhites, honey and salt. Place over a pot of simmering water (make sure the bowl doesn't touch the water) and mix on high speed into stiff, glossy peaks with an electric beater.
3 In a separate bowl, loosen the strained yoghurt with the lemon juice. Fold a few spoons of the eggwhite mixture into to yoghurt, then gently fold in the rest. Now divide this mixture in three equal parts and carefully mix in each part with a different fruit puree.
4 Pour the strawberry mixture in the tin and put away in the freezer. Put the other two mixtures in the fridge. Check after half an hour if the surface of the first layer is frozen. If so, pour the raspberry mixture on top of it and place back in the freezer. Repeat with the blackberry mixture and freeze completely.
5 Remove the layer cake from the freezer and leave to stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before removing it from the tin. Slice up with a knife that’s warmed up in hot water and sprinkle some freeze dried raspberry powder on top. Wait a couple of minutes before serving.

TIP: Mix some whole blueberries through one or more layers of the ice cake just before you pour them into the tin. Make sure to push them completely into the mixture, to keep the surface nice and straight.


4. Chilled strawberry soup with mascarpone cream and anise crackers

It may seem a bit of an unusual combination, but the freshness of the cucumber pair perfectly together with the sweetness of the strawberries. Besides that, the cucumber cubes add a crispy bite to the soup!

verdenius cold strawberry soup

Serves 4

20 g blanc almonds
½ tsp anise seeds
25 g butter
30 g sugar
1,5 tbsp honey
Pinch of salt
13 g flour
125 g mascarpone
100g cream
50 g + 1 tbsp sugar
¼ cucumber
5 dried juniperberries
400 g strawberries

1 Begin with baking the anise crackers. Preheat the oven to 190C. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
2 In a food processor, grind the almonds together with the anise seeds to a coarse mixture. 
Put the almond mixture in a pot and add the butter, sugar, honey and salt. Melt the butter and let boil for a minute. Get the pot off the heat and mix in the flour. 
3 With a teaspoon, put small heaps of the mixture on the baking trays but make sure to keep enough distance between them because they will run out into thin crackers. Tip: if you let the mixture cool a bit, you can roll the heaps between your hands into small balls to get perfectly round crackers.
4 Bake the crackers in the oven for 6-8 minutes, swap the trays halfway. They are perfectly cooked when they start to colour in the middle, but stay alert because they will burn fast around the edges.
5 Let cool on the trays. If desired, get off the excessive fat with a paper towel.
6 Mix together the mascarpone, cream and 1tbp sugar and whisk until firm. Cut the cucumber into small dices.
7 Now make the soup. Put 50g sugar and the 5 juniper berries in a spice chopper or the chopper of a blender. Mix into juniperberry icing sugar. Mix the strawberries with a blender into a smooth soup and add the lemon juice and 2 tbsp of the icing sugar, or more to taste. 
8 To serve, divide the soup over four bowls or plates. Garnish with a spoon of the mascarpone cream, an anice cracker and some cucumber dices. 

TIP: You can use the juniper berry icing sugar to sprinkle on cakes too, for example the tartelettes or buttermilk blueberry cake.


5 Buttermilk blueberry cake with lemon glaze

verdenius blueberry buttermilk cake

For 1 cake

200 g all purpose flour + extra for dusting
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
115 g butter, softened
200 g sugar
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean
2 eggs
90 ml + 1 tbsp buttermilk
2 lemons, zested and 1 tbsp of juice
250 g blueberries
90 g icing sugar
fresh verbena leaves to serve

1 Preheat the oven to 175C. Grease in a small loaf tin of 10cm x 17cm x 7cm and line with parchment paper. 
2 Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a bowl.
3 Using a stand or hand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla seeds. Beat until creamy then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4 Mix in the 90 ml buttermilk, lemon zest and finally, the dry ingredients. Pour the batter into the tin. Dust 125g of the blueberries with some flour and pour them over the top of the cake. Gently push them in with your fingers until you can still see them. They will sink more into the cake when you bake it. 
5 Place in the oven and bake the loaf for 35-40 minutes or until a scewer comes out clean. Cool in the pan, then remove to a rack to cool off completely. 
6 Make the glaze by sifting the icing sugar in a bowl. Add one tbsp of buttermilk and whisk in with a balloon whisk. Add one tbsp of lemon juice and whisk again. If the glaze is too thick, add another tbsp of lemon juice until your glaze is thick, yet pourable.
7 Pour the glaze over the top of the cake and decorate with the extra blueberries and some verbena leaves.

TIP: Use red currants instead of blueberries for a more tangy effect, or mix and match.


6 Summer berry tartelettes with soft white chocolate blackberry ganache

These tartelettes are flavoured with white and dark chocolate. For a basic version: for the pastry: replace the cacao powder for all purpose flour. Fill the tartelettes with a mixture of 125g mascarpone, 100g cream, 1 tbsp of sugar and the seeds of 1 vanilla bean, mixed together with a stand or hand mixer until firm.

verdenius berry tartelette

Makes 8 tartelettes

125 g sugar
1 egg
Pinch of salt
230 g flour + extra for dusting
20 g cacao powder
125 g cold butter, cut into small cubes
125 g blackberries
85 g cream
200 g white chocolate
15 g butter
Summer fruit to decorate

1 Grease in 8 fluted tartelette pans with a bit of butter.
2 For the dough, mix the sugar, egg and salt together with a standing mixer or a hand mixer, until you get a light yellow mixture. Add the flour and cacao in and combine until the texture is fine and crumbly. Now mix in the cold butter and knead until you have a homogeneous dough. Try to knead the dough as short as possible. Form a ball, then push it into a flat disc. Wrap in cling film and put away in the fridge for at least half an hour.
3 Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease in the baking molds. Cut out rectangles of parchment paper big enough to hold baking beans inside a tartelette.
4 Remove the pastry from the fridge. Place the pastry on a floured surface and press it into a flat circle with the heel of one hand. Sprinkle flour over the pastry and roll it out with a rolling pin. Lift and roll it onto the pin. Unroll and ease pastry onto the tartelette pans and cut the dough around them. Press the pastry into the bottom and around the sides of each mold. Roll the pin over the pans to trim extra over-hanging dough. Place the pieces of parchment paper over each tartelette and fill them with baking beans. Bake them for 10 minutes, then remove the paper and the beans and bake for another 10 minutes. Leave to cool completely.
5 For the filling, blend the blackberries with a blender or food processor until smooth and put through a sieve to remove the seeds. Bring the cream to a boil. Cut the white chocolate into small pieces and put in a bowl. When the cream boils, poor it over the chocolate, cover it and let stand for 5 minutes. After that, stir it with a spatula until all lumps of chocolate have disappeared and you have a smooth ganache. Stir in the butter until dissolved. Leave it to cool a bit, then stir in the blackberry sauce. 
6 Fill the tartelettes with the ganache and put in the fridge for an hour to stiven. 

TIP: you can also put them in the freezer for half an hour. Finally: decorate the tartelettes with the summer berries. 

Recipes by Martina Bianchini + Marieke Verdenius
Cooking by Martina Bianchini
Photography, styling and food styling by Marieke Verdenius


A week in Copenhagen

Copenhagen is my favorite city to visit. I've been here already multiple times and it always surprises me in a way. New flavours, new shops, new streets, new people, new energy.... This time I traveled here together with my dear friend Renée Kemps, who used to live here for a while. I loved listening to her stories when she studied at this Scandinavian capitol. Here are a few glimpses of our days well spent here.



blackberries from torvehalle

blackberries from torvehalle

lunch at signe bay's studio

lunch at signe bay's studio

the lab

the lab

room at our stay nobis copenhagen

room at our stay nobis copenhagen

glyptotek museum

glyptotek museum

White beetroot salad with grapefruit, tarragon & crème fraîche

This salad is packed with flavours. I like the combination of the earthy taste of the roasted white beetroots and zingy tones of grapefruit. This recipe was served at Nourish Gatherings.

nourish -.jpg

Serves 4

4 medium white or Chioggia (candy-stripe) beetroots
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp pine nuts
½ lemon, zest & juice of (2 tbsp lemon juice)
2 white grapefruits
190 g crème fraiche
2 tbsp fresh tarragon leaves
Flakey sea salt

1 Preheat oven to 200° C. Place each beetroot on a piece of aluminium foil, rub with olive oil and salt and close up the foil around the beetroots. Place the packages in the oven and roast until tender, 40-50 minutes. Unwrap beetroots and let cool.
2 Toast pine nuts in a pan on low heat, tossing them occasionally until they start to colour.
3 Peel beets and thinly slice into rounds. Toss beets with some olive oil and lemon juice in a medium bowl and season with salt.
4 Cut all peel and white pith from the grapefruits using a sharp, small knife. Slice them into thin rounds. Discard the pits.
5 Spoon some crème fraiche on each plate. Top with some slices of beetroot and grapefruit, tarragon, pine nuts, flakey sea salt and a bit of lemon zest.