Monday, June 27, 2011

Strawberry Everything

While I often fail miserably at eating seasonally with vegetables (there are only so many root vegetables one can eat during the course of six months, even when one loves them) I'm pretty good about it with fruit.  (Except for bananas--I buy those all year.)  More dramatically than any other foods, for me anyway, fruits taste exponentially better when they're in season.  Living in New England, I have the opportunity to go and pick most of the fruits that I eat, which adds a whole other dimension of fun for me.

Two Sundays ago, we picked strawberries at Russell Orchards in Ipswich.  Heading to Russell anytime is a full-day affair: we pick whatever is in season, and then tool around the antique shops or take a road we haven't taken before.  And since a tip from a friend, no visit is complete without a stop at Farnham's for lobster and fried clams.  Ooo!  And let's not forget Down River Ice Cream.  I can't talk about them, or I'll have to stop blogging and get in the car.

As you might imagine, I don't pick anything in moderation.  If it turns out we've picked too much...who am I kidding, it never turns out we've picked too much.  That's what the freezer, jams, and sauces are for!  So we picked four quarts of strawberries.  We've eaten a few out of hand, but I've also made two kinds of muffins, made scones twice, froze a quart, and made this obscenely wonderful Strawberry Summer Cake from Smitten Kitchen.  (Trust me, make this right now. )

The first batch of muffins I made tasted really good, but had a textural issue were like hockey pucks.  Lately, I like a little bit of a challenge when it comes to baking (this must mean I'm learning!) so I decided to tinker with the recipe.  One word: yum.

Make'em all, and call it a Strawberry Fiesta!  Thrown in a little Limoncello muddled with strawberries, and you've got yourself a fine summer party.

Strawberry Lemon Muffins
(adapted from  And now you have the peach-blueberry recipe I use, too!)

1 1/2 c. each all-purpose and whole wheat flour
1/2 c. each granulated and slightly packed brown sugar, plus 1 heaped tsp.
1 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2-1 tsp of ground ginger (if you wanted to spike this, you could add some finely chopped crystalized ginger)
2 cups sliced strawberries
zest of one lemon
3 eggs
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. melted butter

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare 12 or 16 muffin tins--your call.  The 12 will just barely rise and bake into each other, but not so badly that they're a challenge to separate.  The 16 will be very nicely behaved, normal sized muffins.

1.  Toss the sliced strawberries with the heaped teaspoon of sugar and the lemon zest.  Set aside.
2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.
3.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted butter.
4.  Add the egg  mixture to the flour mixture, and combine almost completely--leave some streaks so that the muffins don't become over-mixed when you add the strawberries.
5.  Add the strawberries to the batter (including any juices) and mix until just barely combined--it's okay if there are some small streaks of flour.
6.  Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.  Bake 18-20 minutes for the 16 muffins, or 20-25 minutes for the 12 muffins.  Cool on wire rack.

Strawberry Scones
(I can't find the source of this recipe.  I apologize for that--if it's your recipe, please leave a comment so I can properly cite you! It's original incarnation is Peach-Pecan Scones.)

1 large egg
1/3 c milk
2 tsp honey
1/3 c finely chopped strawberries (heaped)  or you can use peeled peaches
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c firmly packed brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 c finely chopped, toasted pecans
turbinado sugar, for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Coat a large sheet pan with cooking spray, or line it with parchment paper.
1.  Whisk together the egg, milk, and honey in a small bowl.  Add strawberries.  Set aside.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, mix flours, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or two knives, or rub in with your fingers) until pea-sized clumps form.
3.  Stir in pecans and milk mixture just until dough begins to come together (I usually start with a spoon, and then get in there and mix gently with my hands).
4.  Place dough on a well-floured surface and form a ball.  Pat into a round about 1/2 inch thick.  Slice into 8 equal wedges.  Transfer to baking sheet, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar, if using.  Bake 20-25 minutes or til golden brown around edges.  Cool on wire rack.

...and last but not least, Strawberry Summer Cake Trifle!
Believe it or not, we didn't take down all of the summer cake (link above) when I made it.  We were having company, so I thought a quick version of a trifle might be a nice pretty delicious excuse for eating lots of whipped cream along with this cake.  The beauty of it?  You can make as much or as little as you want, since it all depends on how much of the cake you use.

Strawberry Summer Cake, crumbled into chunks and bits
Whipped Cream, barely sweetened (not Cool Whip--too over-powering for this)
sliced strawberries, tossed with a little sugar
(I used most of the cake, 4 cups of whipped cream, and 2 cups of sliced strawberries tossed with 2 tsp of sugar)
In a trifle dish or other high-sided bowl, layer half of the cake, half of the strawberries and the juice that formed, and half of the whipped cream.  Repeat, ending with whipped cream.  Chill for about an hour, so the strawberry juice can seep into the cake.


Missie said...

One of our favorite summer dinners in this house is fresh berries, assorted cheeses and french bread. I came home last Tuesday with 1qt of blackberries, 1qt of blueberries, 1qt of raspberries and 4lbs of strawberries. Berry juices were dripping off of all of our chins and fingers. It was not a pretty sight, but man was it tasty.

Missie said...

So I've been coming back everyday to look at that picture of strawberries. It makes my mouth water- such a beautiful shot!! I'm also making that strawberry cake for 4th of July. :)