Archive for the ‘Strawberries’ Category

Summer Cupcakes

Monday, July 11th, 2016

cupcakeweb

Saying goodbye to strawberries can be hard. I DO have the consolation of raspberries, but still strawberries speak to me of high summer as no other fruit can. I felt I had to squeeze in one final strawberry dish on Mass Appeal last week.

I chose cupcakes with strawberry icing because everyone likes a cupcake. I used my favorite yellow cake formula for the cupcakes. For the icing, I thought long and hard about the best way in which to incorporate my fresh berries.

I was tempted by a technique I saw on the website of King Arthur Flour, with which one simply cuts up berries and beats them into the icing.

In the end, however, I used a technique I found on another website, allrecipes. This one reduces berries to a puree and then cooks them down. (I found that my “cooking down” time was a lot less than that of the person on allrecipes; I have no idea why.)

I loved the result. So did Seth Stutman and his new co-host Lauren Zenzie. In fact, so did everyone at the studio. The cupcakes disappeared in no time at all.

Lauren and I are getting along just fine.

1-2-3-4 Cupcakes with Strawberry Icing

Ingredients:

for the cupcakes:

1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup milk

for the icing:

1 cup cut strawberries
1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter at room temperature
confectioner’s sugar to taste (probably about 2 cups)

Instructions:

First make the cupcakes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 18 cupcake/muffin pans with liners.

In a large bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the sugar and then the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg. Beat in the vanilla, the baking powder, and the salt. Stir in the flour and the milk, alternating between the two and beginning and ending with the flour.

Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean, about 25 to 35 minutes. Cool the cupcake pans over racks for 10 minutes; then remove the cupcakes (with their liners!) from the pans. Cool.

You may start the icing while the cupcakes are baking. Place the strawberries in a blender and pulse until they are liquid. (You may also put them in a 2-cup measuring up and use an immersion blender.)

Pour the strawberry liquid into a saucepan, and cook it over medium-high heat until the liquid reduces into a thicker puree (about 10 minutes on my stove). Remove the puree from the heat, and allow it to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter and 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar. Add 1 tablespoon of strawberry puree and mix thoroughly. Add more puree and more sugar until your icing reaches the color and consistency that pleases you. (You may have leftover puree.)

Ice the cupcakes. Try to eat them as quickly as possible (this won’t be hard!) as the strawberry icing is perishable. Makes about 18 cupcakes.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KT4jLTATbHc[/embedyt]

Asparagus Croque Monsieur

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

grassweb

Asparagus is still sticking up happy stalks at local farm stands, which makes me ecstatic. I try to eat it every day, if only in a salad. I know it will go away all too soon.

Naturally, I wanted to use it for my appearance last week on Mass Appeal. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it—and then suddenly I had a vision of asparagus in the middle of a Croque Monsieur.

I have always adored this French version of a grilled-cheese-and-ham sandwich. It’s my favorite thing to order in Parisian cafés—or it WAS in the days when I frequented those establishments. (Someday I hope to get back to Paris. It has been several decades, hélas.)

Here’s how I made the sandwiches last week. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure the sandwich needs the béchamel (white) sauce. It would be pretty good with just a little extra cheese. But then, when does one ever NEED béchamel? It does make the sandwich just a bit more decadent and French, however.

As I said on the air, a Tinky could conceive of grilled cheese with asparagus. It takes a French person to think of throwing béchamel on top. I have to admit that a French person might have been a bit more sparing than we were in the video below.

My television appearance on Thursday coincided with National Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Day. Local strawberries are just coming in so I happily made a strawberry-rhubarb crumble. If you’d like to make that, just use my friend Ginny’s rhubarb crumble recipe. Substitute strawberry slices for half of the rhubarb and omit the cinnamon. (I also like to substitute oats for part of the flour.)

P.S. You’ll note from the crumble video that I have now adopted the soubriquet “The Diva of Deliciousness.” This was suggested by Craig Hamilton, a delightful chef on the Jersey Shore. What do you think of the new name?

Asparagus does excited me!

Asparagus does excite me!

Croque Monsieur aux Asperges

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons sweet butter plus butter as needed for browning bread
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup warmed milk
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 pinch salt
4 slices of good bread (I used King Arthur Flour’s pain de mie recipe.)
Dijon mustard to taste
2 slices of ham
4 thin slices Gruyère
4 pieces of cooked asparagus, cut to fit the bread
1/4 cup shredded Gruyère

Instructions:

In a saucepan over low heat melt the 2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour, and cook, whisking, for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the hot milk. Cook and whisk until the sauce thickens a bit, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat, and stir in the paprika and salt. Set aside.

Begin assembling your sandwiches. Spread the slices of bread lightly with mustard. Top two of the slices with a slice of cheese, ham, asparagus, and another slice of cheese. Place the other slices of bread on top to make two full sandwiches.

In a frying pan melt a small amount of butter. Pop the sandwiches into the pan and lightly brown them, adding a little more butter if needed.

Put the sandwiches on a baking sheet. Top them with some of the sauce (you don’t have to use it all; I just like to make sure I’ll have enough!) and the shredded cheese. Broil them until they turn golden brown and bubbly.

Serves 2 decadently.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RU9esxHVKME[/embedyt]

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1R-TRFqsio[/embedyt]

Strawberry Season

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Tinkyin red web

I adore strawberries—in part because of their lovely, sweet color and juiciness and in part because (at least where I live in western Massachusetts) they ripen just as the earth does. Their arrival in local fields and farmstands coincides almost exactly with the arrival of summer.

I haven’t picked strawberries in several years. Living by myself as I currently do, I don’t need the large quantities with which one comes home after picking. I know I could make jam and freeze or dry the darn things. Somehow I’m short sighted enough to want to enjoy a few at a time while they’re ripe and not worry about putting them by too much. (I have made a little jam this year; old habits are hard to break.)

This week on Mass Appeal I HAD to use strawberries. I made one savory recipe and one sweet. (Technically, the savory recipe was sweet as well; it actually included more sugar than the sweet. Because it was a little spicy and because it’s not a dessert I think of it as savory.)

The savory recipe was strawberry chipotle sauce. This jam-like substance is wonderful as an appetizer on crackers with cream cheese, although it could also be used as a cooking sauce or condiment with chicken or pork.

The sweet recipe was my “once a year day” special. I generally consume a pretty balanced diet; I love my vegetables. Once a year, however, I like to have ONLY strawberry shortcake for supper. Shortcake is filling, and I can lose my hunger for it if I eat a real meal. If shortcake IS the meal, however, I can enjoy it with gusto. And eating it once at year can’t hurt me.

The shortcake recipe I posted before on this blog made one giant shortcake. I find it easier in general to make smaller shortcakes so I can serve as many people as I want (sometimes just Tinky!) and then give away or freeze the remaining cakes.

The shortcake recipe here comes from King Arthur Flour, and it couldn’t be easier. To make it more festive, I include a bit of stewed rhubarb along with the strawberries. We still have a bit of rhubarb here in the hilltowns, although it’s getting ready to leave us.

King Arthur Flour also provided the self-rising flour, the nice new sharp biscuit cutters, and the sparkling sugar for the top of the cakes.

I hope you enjoy the recipes … and the season … as much as I do.

strawberry chipotle sauce web

Strawberry Chipotle Sauce

Ingredients:

2 cups strawberry slices
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 pinch salt
1 to 2 canned chipotles in adobo sauce (plus a little of the sauce)
1 dab butter

Instructions:

In a nonreactive pot combine the fruit, a cup of the sugar, and the lemon juice. Let the mixture sit for an hour or so to allow the berries to juice up.

Cook the fruit over low heat until tender. Add the remaining sugar, the salt, the chipotle, and the butter, and cook rapidly until thick, stirring frequently. Remove any foam you see (there shouldn’t be too much, thanks to the butter).

If you want jam, it will be ready when it sheets off a cold, stainless-steel spoon.

If you don’t cook it that long, your sauce will just be a bit more liquid. (I like it slightly more liquid so I measure the sauce with an instant-read thermometer and turn off the heat when the thermometer reads 217 or 218 degrees.)

Let the sauce cool for a few minutes; then pulverize it with a blender or immersion blender.

Refrigerate the sauce after it cools. Makes about 2 cups.

shortcakeweb

Strawberry-Rhubarb Shortcake

Ingredients:

for the filling:

3 cups chopped rhubarb
1/2 cup sugar
the juice of 1/2 lemon
3 cups chopped strawberries (lightly sweetened if you like them juicy)

for the self-rising biscuits:

2 cups self-rising flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
a small amount of melted butter (optional)
coarse white sugar (optional)

for assembly:

sweetened whipped cream

Instructions:

A couple of hours before you want to begin working start the filling by sprinkling the sugar over the rhubarb. Stir in the lemon juice, and allow the rhubarb to juice up.

After an hour has passed prepare your filling. (You may also prepare the rhubarb portion of the filling in advance.) Bring the rhubarb mixture to a boil; reduce the heat; and cook, stirring, until the rhubarb becomes thick (about 5 to 7 minutes).

Allow the rhubarb to cool. While it is cooling you may begin making your shortcake biscuits. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Whisk together the flour and sugar. In a separate bowl (or a measuring cup!) combine the cream and the vanilla.

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour the cream mixture into the well, and gently stir until the mixture is combined, adding a little milk as needed to incorporate all the ingredients into the liquid.

Turn the dough onto a floured work surface, and sprinkle a little more flour on top. Fold the dough over several times; then pat it into a circle or rectangle that is about 1/2 inch thick.

Using a sharp biscuit cutter cut the dough into rounds, about 2 to 2-1/4 inches wide (or however wide you want them!). Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet (you may line the sheet with parchment or silicone if you’re paranoid about sticking). If you like, brush the tops of your biscuits with melted butter and sprinkle a little coarse sugar on top.

Bake the biscuits until they are golden brown (12 to 16 minutes).

When you are ready to assemble your shortcakes, cut the biscuits in half horizontally. Decorate the bottom halves with the cooked filling followed by the strawberries; then dollop on whipped cream. Top with the biscuit tops. (Or divide each shortcake into two mini-shortcakes, one strawberry and one rhubarb, as shown in the photo above.)

Serves 8 to 10, depending on the size of your biscuits.

And now the video.…

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWPnpFSXQj0[/youtube]

Variations on a Delicious but Messy Theme

Friday, June 20th, 2014

strawberriesweb

Shari’s Berries recently wrote to me (and I presume to a lot of other bloggers) to suggest that I post a recipe before next Wednesday, June 25, to celebrate National Strawberry Parfait Day.

I had never heard of this holiday. But I’m happy to celebrate!

The woman from Shari’s Berries defined a strawberry parfait as “a delicious way to showcase berries along with layers of cookies or cake all tied together with some yogurt or pudding.” As soon as I read this description it occurred to me that a dessert I had been contemplating would qualify as a parfait: Strawberry Napoleons.

As regular readers know, I am a Napoleon fan, having made Key-Lime Napoleons a couple of years ago. As strawberry season dawned last week, I decided that it might be fun to adapt that recipe with another of my favorite fruits. I thought the idea was completely original to me—until I purchased some Pepperidge Farm puff pastry and saw a recipe for the very same thing on the side of the box!

Luckily, my recipe is and was a bit different; PF was desecrating its strawberries by suggesting that the home cook use pudding mix instead of making pastry cream. No, no, no!!!

The Napoleons seemed perfect for my projected garden-party theme on this past Wednesday’s Mass Appeal television program so I decided to try making them on the air. As you can see from the video at the bottom of this post, hosts Ashley Kohl, Seth Stutman, and I experienced a few culinary mishaps.

First, we had a blender disaster while attempting to make mayonnaise for our cucumber sandwiches. (Happily, I travel with mayonnaise whenever possible.)

cukes web

Then the Napoleons had a little trouble staying together.

Luckily, Seth, Ashley, and I always have fun—and the video is worth watching for my fabulous hat alone.

That night with friends—and last night as well—I experimented with the Napoleons. First, I attempted assembling only two layers of puff pastry instead of three. That worked better in terms of staying together—but it didn’t include enough strawberries and pastry cream, and those are the stars of the show!

Next, I tried using only two layers of puff pastry but slicing the pastry horizontally so that the two layers became four thinner layers. This also seemed like a fairly doable alternative. It tilted, but it stayed together.

tilted but better web

I realized, however, that I really didn’t need much puff pastry at all to make me happy. So I made a traditional parfait in a glass (which had the advantage of holding the darn thing together!). I layered small amounts of pastry, pastry cream, and strawberries, then topped the whole thing with a little whipped cream and a whole berry. The photo below is out of focus, but you’ll get the idea.

parfaitweb

Someday I may even try just putting berries and pastry cream in a bowl with a small piece of puff pastry on the side. For now, however, I am parfait-ed out and prefer to enjoy my strawberries plain.

Here is the recipe as it was messily but deliciously assembled on camera. Feel free to try any of my variations—or to create your own!

(By the way, Shari’s Berries in no way reimbursed me for doing this post. The company just came up with a fun suggestion.)

naps web

Strawberry Napoleons (more or less)

Ingredients:

for the base:

1 sheet puff pastry (your own or frozen; I used frozen)

for the pastry cream (crème patissière):

1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 pinch salt
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla

for assembly:

a little strawberry juice (created by sugaring up a few berries and leaving them for a half hour)
confectioner’s sugar as needed
melted jam as needed (optional but helpful)
lightly whipped cream (optional)
fresh strawberries, sliced and MAYBE lightly sweetened

Instructions:

Bake the pastry according to the directions of the manufacturer. Let it cool, and transfer it onto a work surface. While it is cooling, you may make the pastry cream.

In a heavy pan, heat the milk until it is hot, but do not let it come to a boil. Combine the sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl, and stir in the milk. Beat the mixture. Return it to the pan, and stir constantly over low heat for 4 to 6 minutes until it becomes thick and smooth.

Add a bit of the warm mixture to the beaten egg yolks, and then add a bit more; then stir the egg yolks into the pastry cream. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture resembles a thick custard. Cool, stirring every 5 minutes or so, and then stir in the vanilla.

When the pastry cream has cooled (allow at least half an hour for this), make glaze for the top of your Napoleons by stirring a little juice into 1/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar.

If you wish to be extra decadent, fold whipped cream into the pastry cream. (I’m just fine without it myself.)

Now you are ready to assemble your Napoleons. Cut the pastry into six pieces in the long direction of its rectangle and three pieces in the wide direction to make 18 rectangles. (Cut carefully and use a sharp knife; these steps help!) Each Napoleon will have three layers.

If you want to use jam as a glue (it does help), brush a little melted jam on the top of six pieces of pastry. Dab pastry cream on top, followed by some strawberries. Add the next layer of pastry, topping it with another layer of jam (optional), cream, and berries.

Top with the last six pastry rectangles, and drizzle glaze on top. (You may also place another strawberry on the top if you wish.) If your Napoleons tend to slide apart, use a toothpick judiciously.

Serves 6.

[youtube width=”560″ height=”315″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rmnteMdmuU[/youtube]

Liza’s Red, White, and Blue Pie

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

In her signature red, white, and blue pants, Liza cooks fennel over the campfire. (I'm working on getting THAT recipe!)

 
My friend and neighbor Liza Pyle made this festive pie for Independence Day. The recipe originally described a strawberry pie—although I don’t see why it couldn’t be used for just about ANY berry.
 
Liza’s notes appear at the bottom of the recipe pretty much as she typed them.
 
The recipe hailed long ago from Liz Simonds, a friend of Liza’s grandmother (and my honorary grandmother), Mary Parker, known to all local children as Gam. 

If you bake the crust early in the morning, you won’t have to bake anything later in the day—a definite advantage in July. 

The pie awaits the berries........

 
The Pie
 
Ingredients:
 
for the crust:
 
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter (I’d use salted since Liza doesn’t specify)
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
 
for the filling:
 
1 cup cream
4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 quart berries—in this case, whole or thickly cut strawberries mixed with whole blueberries
2 tablespoons currant jelly
 
Instructions:
 
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Use a pastry blender or knives to combine the crust ingredients. Place them in a LARGE pie plate (see notes below). Bake for 15 minutes. Watch to make sure that the crust doesn’t get more than a bit brown. Allow it to cool.
 
For the filling whip the cream and blend in the cream cheese and sugar. Place this mixture at the bottom of your pie shell. Artistically arrange the berries on top. (Liza is MUCH better being artistic than I am!)
 
Melt the jelly. While it is still warm brush it lightly over the tops of the berries. Let your pie stand, gently covered, in the fridge for several hours. Liza reports that 4 hours are ideal; at 8, the jelly starts to bleed unattractively but deliciously into the whipped cream.
 
Serves 8 to 10.
 
Liza’s Notes:
 
1) Unless you use a large and deep pan (or use a tart pan), you will have too much filling and too many berries………so you could reduce the filling and berry measurements by 1/4, or move a small amount to a smaller pan, or just use a big pan (a big tart pan….even a 13 x9 will work)!
 
2) Just blueberries are great too………. 

3) My favorite variation is to use an easy chocolate crust, made by crushing to dust in blender/processer 2/3rds of a box of Nabisco chocolate wafers and mixing it with 1/4 cup melted butter.

Pat that into a buttered big pie plate on the bottom and halfway up the sides….or use a springform pan….and bake at 375 for 8 minutes.