Food & Drink

May 18, 2011

A berry fresh treat

I am not particularly a fan of strawberries. Well, berries as a group in general.

I am not particularly a fan of strawberries. Well, berries as a group in general.

I feel toward berries like my father feels about little green peas, which he calls “sociable peas.” By that he means that if he is presented little green peas on a plate at someone’s home, he’ll eat them to be sociable but he doesn’t really enjoy them. I suppose I’d call myself “berry sociable.”

Anyway, my sister, Shari, and my father for that matter, more than make up for my lack of enthusiasm where strawberries are concerned.

Shari and I have gone berry picking in the past. It’s a fun way to spend an early morning (before it gets too hot). I basically help her pick her fill (usually two buckets worth) while she “samples” occasionally up and down the rows. Not much makes her happier than fresh from the field strawberries.

As a matter of fact, when I told her I was collecting strawberry recipes for a column, she quickly volunteered to help find one or two and to try one out.

Her choice is the double-strawberry scones.

I asked her to write down what she did with the recipe and any changes she made. The “accurate” recipe follows her notes and observations (which I dare not paraphrase):

“Here’s the recipe – with some changes (DUH!). Only had frozen butter, so in the interest of time I used Adluh biscuit mix rather than the flour/baking powder/butter. I also didn’t add the sugar because I used fat-free sweetened condensed milk in place of the sugar/milk (for dusting/brushing scones); and fresh berries for the combination of fresh/dried (1 1/4 cup total). The mix was a little wet so I had to sprinkle in a little flour when I turned it out to knead it. I’d guess it was because the berries I used were fresh and juicy from Cottle’s rather than store bought (from who knows where) which are usually dry. And you know me, I had to test another theory so I made another batch and added cracked black pepper (probably 2-3 teaspoons.) There was only a slight hint, so next time around I’ll add a bit more or maybe chili powder!”

I brought the scones with me to the newsroom the next day. It was good that Shari had made two batches. The scones disappeared rather quickly, to rave reviews.

Of course, with strawberry season almost over and blueberries coming in soon, I believe you could swap one berry for another in any of these recipes and have tasty treats always at hand.

Double-Strawberry Scones

12 servings

2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar, plus a little more for dusting scones

1 tablespoon baking powder

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1 stick butter, cut into chunks

3⁄4 cup fresh strawberries

1⁄2 cup freeze-dried strawberries, optional

2 tablespoons basil, snipped

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 cup half-and-half, plus a little more for brushing scones

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In large bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gently toss in fresh and freeze-dried strawberries and basil. Make a well in center of flour mixture, set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together eggs and half-and-half. Add egg mixture to flour mixture all at once. Using a large spoon, gently stir just until moistened.

Turn dough out onto a generously floured surface. Knead dough by folding and gently pressing it 5 to 7 times, turning dough a quarter turn after each fold. Transfer to a lightly floured parchment-lined baking sheet. Pat or lightly roll dough into a 3/4 inch thick circle. Cut circle into wedges and pull apart slightly.

Brush wedges with additional half-and-half and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 16 minutes or until golden. Serve warm. Refrigerate any leftover scones; reheat 15 seconds in microwave.


Fresh Strawberry Granita

Makes about 6 cups

1 cup hot water

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 cups sliced hulled strawberries (1 pound whole berries) plus additional berries for garnish

Stir first 3 ingredients in small bowl until sugar dissolves. Blend 3 cups strawberries in processor until smooth. Add sugar syrup and blend until combined.

Pour mixture into 13-by-9-by-2-inch nonstick metal baking pan. Freeze until icy around edges, about 25 minutes. Using fork, stir icy portions into middle of pan. Freeze until mixture is frozen, stirring edges into center every 20 to 30 minutes, about 1 1/2 hours. Using fork, scrape granita into flaky crystals. Cover tightly and freeze. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep frozen.) Scrape granita into bowls. Garnish with berries and serve.


Strawberry Leather

Makes 8 to 10 (snack) servings

1 1/2 lb strawberries, halved (4 1/2 cups)

3/4 cup sugar

Purée strawberries with sugar in a blender until smooth, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large heavy saucepan.

Bring purée to a boil, then simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally (more frequently toward end), until thick enough to mound slightly and reduced to 1 to 1 1/4 cups, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F with rack in middle. Line a large baking sheet with nonstick liner (such as a Silpat).

Pour hot purée onto liner and spread thinly (as evenly as possible) into a 15- by 10-inch rectangle using offset spatula. Dry purée in oven until it feels drier (it shouldn’t stick to your fingers) but is still slightly tacky, 2 to 3 hours.

Cool on liner on a rack until completely dry, at least 3 hours and up to 24.

Place a sheet of parchment paper over leather, then peel leather off liner and roll up in parchment.

Cooks’ note: Strawberry leather keeps in a sealed bag at room temperature 1 month.


Strawberry BBQ Sauce

Makes about 5 cups

4 cups strawberries, chopped

1/2 cup chili sauce

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

3 cloves garlic, minced

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine half of the strawberries, the chili sauce, vinegar, and garlic. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes to thicken. Add the remaining strawberries and cook just until heated through.

from The Kansas City Barbeque Society Cookbook: 25th Anniversary Edition by Ardie Davis, Chef Paul Kirk and Carolyn Wells, Andrews McMeel Publishing

Crisp Green Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette

4 to 6 servings

For dressing:

2 cups capped and sliced strawberries

1/4 cup raspberry vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 cup almond or grape seed oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Puree berries, vinegar and honey in a blender. With machine running, slowly add oil in a steady stream. Season with salt and pepper.

For salad:

1 small head butter lettuce, Bibb lettuce or other crunchy lettuce

12 strawberries, capped and halved or quartered

1/2 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted.

Pepper to taste

Core the lettuce and tear leaves into bite-sized pieces. Divide between serving plates. Drizzle lettuce with vinaigrette, scatter strawberries and almonds over the top, add pepper to taste.

From “The New Southern Garden Cookbook,” Sheri Castle, UNC Press

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