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Archive for the ‘strawberry’ Category

The produce at our local markets has grown and multiplied from a few sparse punnet baskets and bunches of herbs to tables creaking and groaning under the plenitude and abundance of Summer Harvest; farmers groggy and bewildered by the weeks of harvesting, packing, selling, counting and chatting with the locals.  Speaking of local, have you seen this? It’s a message I wish more people would take to heart and it comes from an unusual source; more proof that the message is sinking in to a larger audience and being picked up as a marketing tool by larger corporations.  Nothing wrong with that, if you ask me. Let’s get this voice out there a bit, yes?

I’ve taken a little hiatus, so to speak, from the blogosphere to concentrate on various little projects that have kept me out of trouble over the warmer months.  The last week, however, I’ve been a captive to my kitchen, a large quantity of jamming jars and boxes and bags of fresh produce that I’ve been slowly turning into the most delicious, tempting, multi-coloured jars of preserves, pickles, chutneys and jams.  I’ve gone through all my aprons, tea towels, wooden spoons and dish soap in an attempt to keep up with the seemingly never ending supply of this wonderful season’s fruits and vegetables.  I’ve stirred bubbling pots of sticky, syrupy jams until my arms have gone into spasm.  I’ve washed utensils and sieves and strainers until my fingernails have become soft as jelly.  And I’ve loved every hot, sweaty, sticky minute of it.  I look at the mountain of red and purple and green jars growing larger and larger on the counter and think forward to the cold months coming too soon to meet us, and the joy we’ll all get opening up those jars, Summer springing forth again like a surprise visit from an old family friend as we dip into the sticky, sweet, sour or bitter preserves inside. But more about that later.  It’s time for a little catch up.

While I have been absent in the digital sense, I’ve been far from quiet in the kitchen.  In fact, as absent from or tired of I get of one thing or another, somehow I always have time for the kitchen.  I find that the act of cooking in the kitchen metomorphosizes  to suite my mood: from a comforting hug for a bruised or bitter soul to an outward expression of joy and happy energy, the kitchen shapes itself around my current mood, filling in the gaps, holding me upright, much in the same way as that personification of love, the ever supportive Mr P.  And Stirring and seasoning and sieving my way through the last few months, I’ve made a couple share-worthy things:

strawbrhubmix

Like a trio of Strawberry and Rhubarb concoctions not tried before in the Lick Your Own Bowl Kitchen:

Firstly, a Strawberry Rhubarb bread pudding made with an unopened, left over Panettoni from Christmas.

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Then came a Strawberry Rhubarb Cookie Sandwich, using up a half batch of sugar cookie dough left in the fridge from a previous endeavor.

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Finally, for a picnic with friends on the banks of Lake Ontario, celebrating Canada’s Birthday, tartlets of Strawberry Rhubarb Mousse with a minted Strawberry Rhubarb Salsa.

StrawbrhubmousseStrawbrhubmousse1Strawbrhubmousse2

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strawberry-pistachio-tart-combo1

On a balmy, sensual, early summer night in the season now past the dashing Mr P and I were invited to a dinner, eaten out doors in the charming garden on a very good friend.  She asked for a dessert for 6 and, it being the season of all things fresh and lovely, what better than an ensemble exploding with fresh strawberries.  Now, I’m not going to give you an ingredient by ingredient recipe for these little tarts. It’s simply a version of a typical little fruit tart, not dissimilar to these, or these, using a pate sable and a type of nut custard, like frangipane but with pistachios instead of almonds in both cases.  I love including a fruit in puddings, as you’ve no doubt noticed.  I tend to keep the sugar content a bit lower on the rest of the dessert and rely a lot on the sweetness in the fruit instead.  I think the ultimate difference with these tarts is that the tart shell is baked with the pistachio-cream, then when the tarts are cool the fresh strawberries are added on top.  Somehow, a fresh strawberry is infinitely better than a cooked one on a hot summer evening, don’t you agree?

*note: if you’re battling to get the strawberries to stand nicely on the cool tarts, heat a little strawberry jam and use as a type of glue between the fresh strawberry pieces.

strawberry-pistachio-tart-52

Strawberry Pistachio Tarts

for the pate sable:
200g butter, softened
pinch salt
⅓ cup icing sugar, sifted
⅓ cup shelled pistachios
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
400ml plain flour

for the pistachio cream:
½cup shelled pistachios
1 egg
⅓ cup sugar
60 ml unsalted butter, softened

Punnet fresh strawberries
3 or 4 Tbls strawberry jam (preferably an all fruit jam)
¼cup shelled pistachios, finely chopped

– first, grind or blend or process the pistachios, in two separate batches for the pastry and the creme, until they are very fine (think ground almonds)

make the pate sable:

– beat the butter with the ground pistachios, salt and sugar until creamy.

– add the egg, vanilla and 1 Tbsp of the flour and beat until smooth.

– add the rest of the flour and combine to form a sticky dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour

make the pistachio creme:

– beat ground pistachios, egg, sugar and butter until smooth. Refrigerate 10 mins until firm.

– preheat the oven to 375˚F

– grease and flour 6 individual tart tins (about 5″ diameter) or, alternatively, one large 9 or 10 inch dish.

– when the pastry is well chilled, roll it out on a floured surface to about 5mm thickness.  Line each tine with pastry, trimming away excess. Keep combining and re-rolling the scraps of dough until all the tins are lined.

– prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork a couple of times.

– divide the pistachio creme between each tart Shell and smooth out.

– bake for about 20 mins until the pastry and the top of the pistachio creme is a lovely pale gold.

– allow the tarts to cool for 10 mins before removing from tins.

– wash, hull and halve the strawberries. Gently heat the strawberry jam.

– when the tarts are completely cooled top with halved strawberries.   Brush a little jam onto the berries of each tart. Top with a sprinkle with the chopped pistachios.

strawberry-pistachio-tart-combo2

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Strawberry sorbet

Could they be the last of the season?  I always thought Strawberries were a Spring thing, everywhere except England where they’re a year round thing, it seems.  Well, it’s August, isn’t it?  And that’s no time for Spring Chickens.  But yet, there they were, sweetly fragranced, locally produced Strawberries, shining freshly under the market lights.  And a bargain too!  Why?  What’s the deal?  Well, I gave them a good sniff, a prod and decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth.  When I got home I popped one in my mouth and the flavour was every bit as good as the colour and smell.  Too good to be true!  These were almost the best Strawberries of the season, and here it’s the middle of August.  Those didn’t last long, and I went straight back the next morning for another batch.  Of course we ended up eating them with all sorts of things, but this was my favourite way:

Strawberry Sorbet

about 1½ cups strawberries,
washed and hulled
5 or 6 blocks of ice
¼ cup water
1 Tbsp or so lemon juice
3 Tbsp castor sugar
1 tsp Vanilla essence

-Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until the ice has broken down.

-blend on high for a minute or two until the mixture is a good slush.

-place the mixture in the freezer.

-freeze for ½ hour at a time, remove from freezer and blend to break crystals.  repeat 4 or 5 times before freezing.

-Remove from freezer 10 mins prior to eating and beat a bit to loosen the ice.

*try adding a couple Tbsp of your favorite alcohol to the mixture to prevent it from freezing so solidly

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Berry Bowl

 

At the market on Friday, I was overcome completely by the astounding variety and sheer volume of delicious looking berries. Red currants! Strawberries! Raspberries! Cherries! Blueberries! Blackberries!

Ontario is a couple of weeks behind the States in terms of crop growth and even though we’ve been able to get fresh berries for a while now at the market, this time they were from the local area, fresher and sweeter looking than the previous punnets which have obviously had to be driven in from across the border. How could I resist? I couldn’t, not in the least, and ended up having to carefully, and delicately balance far too many berries in the basket of my bicycle, hoping the whole way home that the ones on the bottom wouldn’t end up a pulpy, juicy mess by the time I made it back. There are definitely downsides to deciding to travel by bicycle through the city. I can’t wait to get a rack and set of baskets on the back of my bike as well so I can do more shopping at one time.

I arrived home still grinning with the excitement of my find and unpacked all my purchases on the kitchen counter, only to stare in post-purchase disbelief at the pile left there. So many berries, and all so beautiful and tempting, but what was I going to do with them all? Surely they wouldn’t last the time it would take to think of something lovely to do with each of them and finish eating what was made. I couldn’t let them go to waste, and there was no concievable way I could have not bought them in the first place. Okay, so let’s look at what there is: red currants, sour red cherries, sweet black cherries, deep red raspberries, strawberries, green gooseberries and fresh rhubarb. Rhubarb is another thing I can’t seem to resist buying when I find it: it’s so rare and its season is so short.

When I saw the gooseberries,
I pounced on them immediately, berries-2.jpg
a slightly crazy, wicked glint in
my eyes. I’d been keeping a wary
eye out for these for a while now.
The reason is simple. In South
Africa, what I was brought up
believing was a gooseberry
(and which my Granny had a
bush of at her front door and
on which we feasted as children)
is actually known as a Cape Gooseberry,
though I’ve seen the same fruit
referred to as a physalis or a
ground cherry. I’d never seen
them before, but having read
about them in Jam Faced recently,
I couldn’t wait to see what all
the fuss was about.

Which led me to the decision to simple preserve a bunch of the fruit, before it could ruin, and have it ready to eat whenever the mood should strike. Jam! I was going to make jam! And it turned out to be a rainy Sunday today so what better way to pass the time?

Raspberry Orange Flower, Red Currant Sour Cherry and Gooseberry jams

I made three kinds:
a simple gooseberry jam,
which left me in no doubt
as to who the real gooseberry
is (yum!) a raspberry and
orange flower jam
,
which is so delicate
and delicious, I might end
up eating it by the spoon
and a red currant and
sour cherry jam
, which I left
quite tart and a bit runny
because I have a wicked plan
for its future… watch this space!

Jams are really easy to make, despite what you’ve heard to then contrary, and I love how making them reminds me so of my Gran.

With the rest I made some divine little strawberry and rhubarb tarts with a fresh custard, made slightly lighter than the previous post by using half milk half cream and the sweet black cherries are to become a cherry clafouti soon.

Of course, now I have three egg whites left over in the fridge from the custard, but again, you’ll have to wait to see what I do with those.

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart w Custard

For the Strawberry Rhubarb Tart:

Pie Crust of your choosing. A vanilla one complements the strawberries well.

2 ½ cups chopped rhubarb (1cm pieces)
1 ¼ cups hulled and quartered strawberries
½ cup sugar
¼ cup flour

Preheat oven to 420˚F

– make pie crust, refrigerate for ½ hour before rolling out and lining 6 mini tart cases. Refrigerate 10 mins.

– mix pie ingredients in a large bowl. Allow to sit for a few minutes so that the fruit juices run out a little and soak up the flour and sugar. Mix a couple times until fruit is well coated.

– divide evenly between cold pie crusts, bake at 420˚F for 10 mins, then lower oven to 350˚F and bake for 45 mins.

Sour Cherries and Red currants

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