Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Strawberry Festival

Doubtless God could have made a better berry; but doubtless God never did.

--William Butler

Strawberries take their name from the most commonly used mulch for the cultivated berry--straw. The wild strawberry, known throughout history and literature as the emblem of summer, can be found by following your nose in fields the sun favors. The juicy ripe sweetness of the strawberry is a perfect pairing with cream and is so loved by Americans that there is a National Strawberries and Cream day, May 21st. But don't worry that you've missed it because National Strawberry Sundae Day is just around the corner, July 7th.

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And what better way to celebrate Strawberry Sundae Day than with homemade strawberry ice cream? Barbara Stein shares this delicious recipe with us at her beautiful food blog, Bless Us O Lord.
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Johane is an exquisite cook and a chef by profession. She shares some fabulous recipes for Strawberry Coulis and Strawberry Rumpot at her blog where she shows herself to be a mom as well as a cook, The Home Gourmet.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble.
This yumilicious recipe comes to us from Monica Bernstein...

1 cup white sugar
3 T flour
3 cups sliced strawberries
3 cups diced rhubarb
(If you have more berries than rhubarb, you can do 4 cups berries, 2 cups
rhubarb. In fact, I prefer it that way, myself!)

Preheat oven to 375.
In large bowl, mix sugar through rhubarb. Place in even layer in 9x13"

Crumble topping:
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups regular oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp salt in small bown.
Add butter and vanilla; stir with fork until moist and crumbly.

Sprinkle oat mixture evenly over strawberry mixture.

Bake, uncovered, 45 minutes.

Yield: ~8 servings, depending on the size of the sweet tooth!

Mile High Dessert
from Jamie's grandmother

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
mix together, press in 9x13 pan and bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Cool. Crumble and use for bottom and top of dessert.

10 oz pkg frozen strawberries (thawed)
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Beat for 20 minutes (use a BIG bowl) fold in small cool whip.
place in 9x13 pan on top of crumble crust/top with some of the crumble and freeze overnight.

Lite Strawberry Pie
and another from Jamie. This one looks easy and light...

Container of cool whip
pkg dry sugar free strawberry jello
fresh or frozen strawberries
graham cracker pie crust.

Mix the cool whip with the dry jello, add the strawberries, place in crust, refrigerate!

Strawberry Topping:
This recipe for vanilla ice cream topping from Sarah looks simply divine!

1-2 lbs Quartered (or thick-sliced) strawberries (amount depends on how much you want to make)
1 bottle of late-harvest chardonnay (the bottles are usually smallish)
A little sugar

Simmer the strawberries in the chardonnay until the liquid has reduced to a somewhat syrupy consistency. If necessary, sweeten with sugar. Spoon over ice cream and serve IMMEDIATELY.

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Waltzing Matilda never lets us down. Here's a recipe your kids are sure to clamor for, Cappuccino Mouse. Wow that looks good. This is making me hungry.

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And Lorri of the Mac and Cheese Chronicles proves she can cook up more than Mac N Cheese-- she offers us the deliciously rich phrase "veritable cornucopia of strawberry goodness" as well as her mother's recipe for strawberry pie. Now that's smart comfort food.

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Minnesota Mom contributes with a terrific looking Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler. Peruse her Come for Coffee cooking blog while you're there. It's well worth "staying for the cake." If you're not hungry yet, you will be.

Michelle Halpin of Party of Five directs us to this Two-Tier Strawberry Pie recipe at the great menu planning and recipe resource All Recipes.

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Elizabeth Foss shares this recipe for a berry pie (can be made with other berries) that her nine year old daughter made. Elizabeth says this recipe stands out because the berries are not cooked and therefore retain their crisp texture. Take a look around at Kitchen Comforts and don't miss the Fourth of July Cake--topped with strawberries too!

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Our old college dorm prefect, Nora N. emailed us too, to say that if you want the best Strawberry Shortcake, look no further than Betty Crocker. Thanks Nora!

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Strawberries are not just for Dessert.
Enjoy These Savory Recipes

Melanie B. adds a link in our combox to her very appetizing blog, In the Kitchen with Bella. This recipe for Strawberry Soup looks like something we need to try.

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Also, our great friend Eika T. emailed us with this recipe for Strawberry Salsa

Strawberry Salsa
1 pint fresh strawberries, diced
4 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 to 2 medium jalepeno peppers, minced
Juice of 1 lime
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
In a bowl, combine strawberries, tomatoes, onion and peppers. Stir in lime juice, garlic and oil. Cover and chill for 2 hours. Serve with cooked poultry or pork or as a dip for tortilla chips. Yield 4 cups.
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And last, but not least, our very own Kristen has prepared a beautiful and summery spread below,
"Berry Tart and Strawberry Lemonade."

Please, pull up a chair and join us-- we're just about to serve!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Berry Tart and Strawberry Lemonade

I've been making this tart for years, and love it for it's simplicity and scrumptiousness. Because the pastry dough and filling can be made in advance, this dessert is perfect for occasions when you're short on time. Enjoy!
Tart Pastry (for a 10-inch shell)
A little less than 2 cups flour
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1/3 tsp. salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled
3 Tbsp. or more, cold water
Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into pieces and drop into the flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter, blend the butter into the flour until mixture resembles coarse meal. One tablespoon at a time, sprinkle cold water over the flour and blend lightly with a fork, until the dough is ready to hold a shape. Pat the dough into a cake with your hands. If using now, roll the dough out onto waxed paper or a on a floured surface until 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the rolled out pastry to your tart pan, poke holes in the top and sides with a fork.
To fully bake the crust, preheat your oven to 425. Press a square of aluminum foil securely into the pastry dough, poke a few holes in the foil, then add pie weights if you have them (rice or dried beans will also work). Bake for 8 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking 8-10 minutes more, or until the crust is browned lightly. Cool on a wire rack before filling.
Pastry Cream
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
pinch of salt
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Stir dry ingredients together with a fork. Bring the milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally so as not to cause curdling. When the milk begins simmering, gradually add it into the sugar mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens, 4-10 minutes. Whisk in the egg yolks over the heat, stirring until slightly thicker, about 2 minutes longer. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the butter.
Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Cover and chill thoroughly. Pastry cream will keep in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 3 days.
Assembling the Tart
Spread pastry cream into tart crust, add as few or as many varieties of berries as you wish. The tart may be served now, or glazed before serving:
Red-Currant Glaze
1 cup red-currant jelly
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Bring the jelly and lemon juice to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let cool for a moment to set. The glaze is now ready to be spread atop your fruit with a pastry brush.
Strawberry Lemonade
No recipe needed for this one. Sprinkle strawberry wedges with sugar and let stand about 10 minutes. Add to your favorite homemade or store-bought lemonade, and watch your tart yellow beverage turn into a sweet, blushing delight! The longer it sits, the sweeter it becomes. Enjoy!


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Celebrating Cilantro

Cilantro is an herb with a refreshing, cool flavor that serves as the perfect accompaniment to the hot flavors found in many Mexican and Indian dishes. The leaves and the stems are equally pungent and useful for cooking, but this herb must always be used fresh. Cilantro loses all its flavor when it dries. It's leaves are similar in shape and color to flat leaf Parsley, but the flavors and scents are worlds apart. Parsley is no substitute for Cilantro. This herb is so distinctive in flavor, that it is either loved or detested. (Oddly enough, those who dislike Cilantro agree universally that it tastes like "dish soap.") Personally, I love it. But I detest the spice that is the seed to this otherwise delightful plant, Coriander.

Here are few simple recipes using Cilantro...

World's Best Simple Salsa

2 cans Delmonte or Contadina petite diced tomato
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Handful bunch of Cilantro, chopped fine
1-2 Jalapeno peppers (depending how hot you want your salsa), minced
1 Tbs. minced Vidalia onion
dash of salt
lemon juice to taste

Empty tomato into a medium sized bowl. Add all other ingredients. Stir well. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips. I've made this salsa mild, medium, and hot. The hottest is when you release the most juices from the peppers by crushing them slightly when you mince them.

Corn Cilantro Salad

2 Cans of corn, drained
1 Handful bunch Cilantro, chopped fine
1 Can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 Red lipstick pepper
1/4 Sweet red onion, chopped fine
2 Tbs. vinegar (I use sushi vinegar, but any white or blush vinegar would do)
1 Tbs. light salad oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix corn, beans, pepper and onion in a medium bowl. Add Cilantro and mix. Mix vinegar with oil and drizzle over all. Mix and add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy this colorful dish!

Cilantro Salmon with Lime

1 Fresh fillet wild caught Salmon
1 Bunch Cilantro
1 Clove garlic, minced
1 Lime
salt and pepper to taste

Salmon is a rich and oily fish so I never add oil to it when cooking. Rub garlic on fillet and add salt and pepper. Cover with generous amounts of chopped Cilantro. Slice lime into thin circles and place several on top of Cilantro. Squeeze remaining lime onto fish. Grill the fish to cook or bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until flaky.

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Jean's Pesto (up from the combox)

Cilantro makes a delicious pesto too!
Grind in a food processor
2 cups cilantro leaves
1/2 c pine nuts
2 cloves garlic (or to taste)
1/2 a seeded jalepeno (or not)
1/4 olive oil

Blend to make a paste and add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice and kosher salt to preserve color and flavor.
This recipe adapts well to substitutes and add-ins like walnuts, feta cheese and other oils and it freezes well!
This can be used on pasta, as a meat seasoning or any other use you like for pesto. My mom even swirls it into freash baked bread and it is really tasty!

Cilantro Martini

Similar to the refreshing Mojito which uses rum and mint, the Cilantro Martini uses vodka, Cilantro, and Lemongrass.

Simply mix your favorite brand vodka with some chopped Cilantro and Lemongrass and, if you are so inclined, add a tiny bit of fresh ginger root minced well. Shake over ice and serve.

Jill's Easy Salsa

1/2 cup thick and chunky salsa
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons of chopped red onion
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder

It makes a great topper for steaks. We don't make steaks too often, so we
use it on chicken or with some chips!

Do you have a great Cilantro recipe? Care to share? Email it to me. (just scrape off the spam)