There is something about the Western-European cuisine, that will always be missing in cultures far away from this beautiful part of Earth. It is the incredible variety and accessibility of dairy products, that can be found in all supermarkets, no matter how small, expensive or specialized they are. I am talking cheese, milk, cream, yoghurt, quark, kefir, butter and whey in their manifold variations, maturity levels and fermentation stages.
In the health community, the consumption of dairy products is highly controversial and yet, they are one of the staple foods that people in Europe have adapted to quite well over the past centuries. While I think that an overconsumption of dairy in any form is not health promoting, there seems to be nothing wrong about indulging in a meal made from dairy occasionally (as long as you tolerate dairy in general), especially given that some of the products contain essential vitamins and minerals for the human body.
My purpose today however is not to debate whether milk is friend or foe, but rather to introduce you to a great summer dessert made of only four ingredients. I came up with this recipe when I had to use up what was left in my fridge on a beautiful Sunday morning with a friend coming over for breakfast. I whipped up some strawberries, fresh basil leaves, a classic quark and just a little bit of maple syrup and voilá – this refreshing and delicious summer dessert was born.
The challenge for this recipe is however yet to come: For all my readers, who don’t live in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria (where quark’s local name is Topfen) or nearby countries and don’t have access to a supermarket with a broad international assortment, the questions remain what quark really is and where to get it.
Quark is an intermediate product from the making of cheese that is created by adding rennet or casein to milk. This process releases whey from the milk and the product becomes a soft or slightly crumbly mass. Quark belongs to the product group of cream cheeses and is supposed to have a water content of 72% according to the German cheese regulation (yes, we do have this law in Germany). Typically, there are different types of quark in terms of the fat content (from low fat to 40% fat). 100 grams of low fat quark contain up to 12 grams of protein and only 67 calories, which is why this dairy product is very popular among people who favour a low carb and high protein diet. Moreover, quark contains potassium, folic acid, calcium and phosphorus, all of which are valuable nutrients.
You can buy quark in well assorted supermarkets all around the world – typically they can be found in the international cheese section where original Parmesan or Mozzarella are sold.
Ingredients for four servings
- 300 g fresh strawberries
- 250 g quark (20-40% fat content)
- one handful of basil leaves
- 1 Tbs. maple syrup
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and blend with an immersion blender until a homogenous mass forms. If you like some chunks in your strawberry quark, simply leave some strawberries aside and cut them into the quark at the end.