Bright blue skies. Overblown pink peonies – the ones that drip petals onto the table where they sit casually arranged in a glass jug. Those days where it feels almost too hot to think. Boat rides into that deliciously blue expanse that is the Venice lagoon – the rough sea breeze on your face and sun beating down, warm and thick like a blanket. The constant, soothing hum of cicadas. These, for me, are the telltale signs of summer. And strawberries: strawberries are summer.
Like all of the beautiful fruit at this time of year – the peaches, the figs (oh, the figs!), the cherries, the raspberries and, later in the season, the plums too – strawberries need little or nothing doing to them. They are heavenly just as they are, and that of course is where their laid-back-lazy-picnic-lunch-under-the-dappled-shade-of-a-tree charm comes from. Serve with a jug of thick, runny cream: strawberries are the lazy cook’s bliss.
This recipe for a simple strawberry and mascarpone tart isn’t quite as simple as plain strawberries with cream, granted. By virtue of being a tart, it is of course something you need to bake. Nonetheless it is a dessert that is at once improbably easy to throw together and fabulously showy to bring to the table. Not to mention: dreamy and decadent to eat. So much so, I find myself making this often – even on those hot summer days when it is far too hot to think, let alone cook.