Monday, June 22, 2009

Strawberry Love - Part 2

Just as promised, I'm writing about the rest of the strawberry creations I attempted this weekend. First up is this summery tart inspired by the recipe I found on one of my favorite blogs to stalk: Tartelette. I juggled the amount of fruit to add and snuck in a bunch of slices strawberries and then I shaped it like a tart instead of a galette, but it still came out quite good. I loved the tender crust which didn't get soggy and held it's own against the filling. Here is my recipe adapted from the one provided by Tartelette:

Pastry crust:
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
1 stick butter, cut in small pieces
1 egg
2-4 tablespoons cold water

Combine flour, sugar, salt and butter in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the butter is cut in, but not too fine. Add the egg and pulse just until it's evenly distributed. Dump the contents into a bowl and mix it into a smooth mass adding a bit of water to help as necessary. Wrap in plastic and put into fridge to rest while you make the filling.

1 small apple; peeled, cored and diced
3 tablespoons lemon juice (about two lemons)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
1 pint sliced strawberries
1 pint blackberries, whole

Combine chopped apple, lemon juice and sugar in a medium pot over medium heat and cook until the apples are tender. Add the blackberries and the strawberries and cook a few minutes. Meanwhile, combine water with the corn starch and mix into a smooth paste. Add this mix to the fruit and cook until it's thick and no longer foamy, only another minute or two. Remove from heat and cool.

Preheat oven to 350F.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about a quarter inch thickness. You can either cut 6 inch circles and make galettes like Tartelette did or go the lazy route and transfer the dough into a tart pan with a removable bottom, trimming along the top. Fill the shell with the cooled filling and top with decorative accents cut from the leftover dough if you like. You can brush the edges with an egg and sprinkle with some sugar if you want to make it pretty, but I figured it was sweet enough, so I skipped this step.
Bake about 20 min until the crust is a light golden color and serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.

The next recipe comes straight from the fabulous FoodBlogga, so I won't copy it here. I will tell you that the only adjustment I made was to toss in a few extra strawberries and a few extra pecans into the mix. It was by far the favorite of all the things I made both at the Father's Day BBQ and the people who got to try some at work. I'll definitely be making more of this moist and fragrant cake and I highly recommend you click on the link above and make this cake soon. It tastes a LOT better than this picture looks :)

Finally, I was flipping through some back issues of Gourmet when I ran across this recipe for Strawberry Gelato. I had all the ingredients and my ice cream maker bowl was already in the freezer, so I went for it.

3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 1/4 cups sliced hulled strawberries
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice

Stir sugar and cornstarch in heavy medium saucepan (don't do this too vigorously or you'll end up wearing the cornstarch like I did). Whisk in milk and cream. Whisk over medium heat until the base thickens a little and begins to bubble, about 5 minutes. Pour into bowl and cool over ice, stirring occasionally.

Puree strawberries in processor. I strained the mix to get rid of as many clumps and seeds as I could and then added into the gelato base. Mix in pomegranate juice and chill the mixture, loosely covered in the fridge for about 3 hours or overnight. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to container and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days. Hoard or share as your conscience allows.

I tried to take a picture of the ice cream to share with you, but by the time I served it all and got back to the table, this is all I saw from everyones plates:

How's that for a raving endorsement?

Strawberry Love - Part 1

I'm sorry I haven't written, almost a month! While I have been baking, I've had no time to really take pictures so there was nothing to post, but I think I'll more than make up for it with this weekend's activities. My sisters, my nephew and I went Strawberry picking! I've been researching different U-Pick sites in IL for weeks putting together lists of what I want to pick when and with whom and the first one on the list was the McCann Berry Farm in Woodstock, IL. They're located just a bit over an hour away from my sister's house and this past weekend was the middle of a very short season, so we got up early, packed up the car and headed out. We grabbed two baskets each and followed the guide to "our rows" and got to work. The bushes were chock full of beautiful ripe strawberries, so it didn't take long for us to fill up our baskets:

I remember going with my older sister a few years back to a farm in Michigan and I remember how she probably ate more than she picked and how excited she was every time she found a great big red strawberry, so I packed my camera to make sure I got lots of shots of my nephew having at least as much fun as she did. He was not disappointed. He had tons of fun "helping" find the best strawberries and was very serious about not eating the dirty ones until mom washed them from the bottle of water she brought. Here he is, intent and hard at work:

This abundance of strawberries practically demanded to be mashed and chopped and baked into yummy things as soon as I got the buckets home and what I realized pretty quickly was that I didn't pick nearly enough to satisfy everyone, but I was going to try.

When I went to Ireland last year, instead of souvenirs or four-leaf-clover trinkets I bought books. A few novels to read along the way and two great big cook books, one of which was this beautiful Apples for Jam. It's a beautifully written cookbook with a ton of great recipes including one for THE BEST STRAWBERRY JAM EVER! I'm not exaggerating or giving anyone undue credit, but this was a gorgeously red and delicious jam that really only had three ingredients: sugar, lemon juice and strawberries. No pectin, no gelling agents or food colorants, nothing what so ever that would take away from the beautiful fruit. This jam alone should send you out looking for your closest berry farm immediately, it's that good.

And while I think that you should also go and get this book, I'll share the recipe with you here:

1 kg ripe strawberries; washed, dried and quartered
2 cups sugar
juice from 2 lemons

1. Combine all ingredients in a non-metallic bowl and toss to coat. Loosely cover the bowl and put in the fridge overnight. This will make sure that the strawberries release some of their juices and maintain their beautiful color through the cooking process.
2. Pour all the juice and half the chopped berries into a deep pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Take the pot off the stove and blend the mixture into a smooth slurry. An immersion blender works great here, but a regular one will work just fine too.
4. Combine the blended berries with the reserved chopped ones back in the pot and bring to a boil again. Simmer for 20 minutes.

That's it! If you'd like to keep some for a while then prepare some jars by boiling them in some hot water and drying them in the oven on low temp, then fill with hot jam, seal and flip them upside down. While the jam is cooling the pressure will seal the jars and flipping them will help prevent condensation.

The next task on the agenda was to make ice cream, strawberry cardamom coffee cake and strawberry tartletts for father's day and to bring to work, but I'll put those into a separate post later tonight. In the mean time I'll leave you with this picture of the tart filling simmering away: