Tag Archives: strawberry

Red White and Blueberries: Strawberry and Blueberry Shortcakes


Shortcake 2

A celebration of summer and independence are two good reasons to throw a party, and the fourth of July is perfectly timed to take advantage of the season’s fresh berries. Fireworks and barbecues are de rigueur as skies and grills light up across America. With a nod to the colors of the American flag, this traditional dessert is fresh and festive, making use of an abundance of summer berries while stirring up nostalgic memories of easy summer living.

Strawberry and Blueberry Shortcakes

Serves 6

For the biscuits:
2 cups all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chilled, unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
1 cup buttermilk

For the berries:
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved
12 ounces blueberries
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest

For the whipped cream:
1 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepare the biscuits:
Preheat oven to 400 F.  Sift the flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Mix in the butter with fingertips until dough resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir until sticky dough forms. Drop dough in mounds on ungreased baking sheet.  Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Cool 15 minutes.

Prepare the fruit:
While the biscuits bake, combine strawberries, blueberries, sugar, mint, lemon juice and zest in a bowl. Toss to coat. Let stand 30 minutes (can be prepared 2 hours ahead.)

For the whipped cream:
Beat cream in a bowl of electric mixer until traces of the beater appear. Add sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until soft peaks form, taking care not to overbeat.

To assemble shortcakes, cut each biscuit in half and arrange bottom half on individual serving plates. Spoon berries with juices over; top with whipped cream. Arrange biscuit top over cream.

In Season: Strawberry Napoleon

Strawberry Napoleon tf

The thing about seasonal food, is you have to eat it while you can – again and again. Those sweet, succulent strawberries? In a month or two, they will be gone. Their star will have waned, and the fresher, more petite raspberries or yellow nectarines will take center stage. Those clean, crisp asparagus spears? They will be bumped aside by a Provençal-style invasion of summer vegetables whose sauces and salads will pointedly exclude the upright astringent asparagus. The obscure, frizzy coils of fiddleheads that we’re finally managing to get to know? Never mind, it’s time to tackle another dark horse of a vegetable, and let the idea of an edible fern fade to a fuzzy dream.

All fruits and vegetables reign supreme at the markets during their seasonal heyday, and while they last, they are the life of the party. We should gorge on them while we can, but too much of a good thing can become tiresome – especially after the tenth consecutive serving. This is where our duty as chefs comes in. It is up to us, like gracious hosts, to showcase our seasonal gifts, highlighting their qualities in appealing and flattering ways, so that they always look and taste great.

So, with yet another recipe including strawberries, I introduce a little phyllo dough to shake things up a bit. Unlike a parfait or a trifle, the phyllo adds a crispy texture and linear orderliness in a dramatic stacked presentation. The outcome is a light and luscious dessert, elegant yet simple, and mighty pretty to look at, too.

(But, let’s be honest. Is it really possible to tire of fresh strawberries?)

Strawberry Napoleons
Serves 10-12

1 package frozen phyllo sheets, defrosted overnight in refrigerator
1/4 cup (60 g.) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup (115 g.) granulated/caster sugar
8 ounces (250 g.) mascarpone cheese
1 cup (250 ml.) heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound (500 g.) strawberries, hulled, sliced lengthwise no more than 1/4″ thick, plus 6 large strawberries, stems intact, halved lengthwise.

Additional confectioners sugar for dusting

Prepare Phyllo Squares:
Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Line 2 rectangular baking sheets with parchment paper. Unroll phyllo dough. Place one sheet on work surface. (Cover remaining dough with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towel to prevent drying.)
Lightly brush phyllo sheet with butter. Sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar. Place second phyllo sheet on buttered phyllo dough. Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Repeat with 2 more sheets.
With a sharp chef’s knife cut stacked phyllo sheets into 12 squares (4 across the sheets’ long side x 3 across the short side). With a spatula, transfer the squares to prepared baking sheets. Bake in oven until golden, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely on racks.
Repeat this process 2 more times, so you will have a total of 36 squares. If you are serving 10 there will be a few extra squares which can be used as back up if there is breakage.
(Phyllo squares may be prepared one day in advance. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Separate layers of phyllo dough with parchement paper.)

Prepare filling:
Beat mascarpone cheese, heavy cream, confectioners sugar and vanilla in bowl of electric mixer until stiff peaks form. (Cream may be prepared up to 6 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate until use.)

Assemble Napoleons:
Arrange one phyllo square on plate or platter. Spread one tablespoon cream over. Arrange 2-3 strawberry slices in one layer over cream. Top strawberries with 1-2 teaspoons cream. Place another phyllo square on top, pressing gently. Spread one tablespoon cream over. Arrange 2-3 strawberry slices in one layer over cream. Top strawberries with 1-2 teaspoons cream. Place third phyllo square on top, pressing gently. Place one teaspoon cream in center of phyllo square. Place one strawberry half, cut-side down, on cream. Dust lightly with confectioners sugar.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Strawberry Rhubarb Soup

Strawberry Rhubarb

Early strawberries and rhubarb are a gift of spring, reflecting the essence of season and simple, fresh food. My inspiration for this dessert comes from Denmark, which does not have the luxury of a California-style springtime. After a long, dark winter, spring is eagerly greeted in Scandinavia, but the early season can still be bleak. Strawberries are not yet seasonal, but hardy, dependable rhubarb is. The Danes gallantly make the most of what they have and, with characteristic minimalism, harvest the rhubarb and use it in simple preparations that herald the onset of the spring season in their Nordic kitchens. A traditional preparation is a simple, sweet soup. The astringent rhubarb is cooked in water with vanilla sugar and served with cream. As simple as it may sound, this dish is a celebration of season and a comforting favorite, pleasing adults and children alike.

Strawberry Rhubarb Soup is a similar compote consisting of the season’s rhubarb and early strawberries we are luckily experiencing in Northern California. I do not add any water, because I like the soup thick and intensely flavored with the rhubarb and strawberries. Sugar is added to smooth the tartness and a touch of vanilla is added for extra depth.  Allow the soup to cool to room temperature and serve either with crème fraîche, lightly sweetened whipped cream or simply drizzled with heavy cream.

Strawberry Rhubarb Soup
Serves 4 to 6

1 1/2 lb. rhubarb, ends trimmed, cut in 1/2″ slices
1 1/2 lb. strawberries, hulled, halved
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heavy cream or crème fraîche for garnish

Combine rhubarb, strawberries and sugar in a large pot. Cover slightly. Cook over medium heat until rhubarb and strawberries give off their juices and rhubarb is very tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Serve in bowls. Drizzle with heavy cream or garnish with a dollop of crème fraîche.

Showcasing Strawberries: Strawberry Napoleon

Strawberry Napoleon 1

The thing about seasonal food, is you have to eat it while you can.  Again and again.  Those sweet, succulent strawberries?  In a month or two, they will be gone; their star will have waned, and the fresher, more juicy, more yellow nectarines or petite raspberries will take center stage.  Those clean, crisp asparagus spears?  They will be bumped aside by a Provençal-style invasion of summer vegetables whose sauces and salads will pointedly exclude the upright astringent asparagus.  The obscure, frizzy coils of fiddleheads that we’re finally managing to get to know?  Never mind; it’s time to tackle another dark horse of a vegetable, and let the idea of an edible fern fade to a fuzzy dream.

All fruits and vegetables reign supreme at the markets during their seasonal heyday, and while they last, they are the life of the party.  But too much of a good thing can become tiresome – especially after the tenth consecutive serving. This is where our duty as chefs comes in.  It is up to us, like gracious hosts, to showcase our seasonal gifts, highlighting their qualities in appealing and flattering ways, so that they always look and taste good.

This is my somewhat metaphorical attempt to explain yet another recipe featuring strawberries.  In fact, not only does this recipe feature strawberries, it also calls for many similar ingredients in my post Strawberry and Mascarpone Cream Parfaits.  The difference is the addition of phyllo dough, and a little dramatic elevation in the stacked presentation.  The outcome is another entirely different dessert, elegant yet simple, delicious to eat and very pretty to look at.

Strawberry Napoleons
Serves 10-12

1 package frozen phyllo sheets, defrosted overnight in refrigerator
1/4 cup (60 g.) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup (115 g.) granulated/caster sugar

8 oz. (250 g.) mascarpone cheese
1 cup (250 ml.) heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 lb. (500 g.) strawberries, hulled, sliced lengthwise no more than 1/4″ thick, plus 6 large strawberries, stems intact, halved lengthwise.

Additional confectioners sugar for dusting

Prepare Phyllo Squares:
Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.)  Line 2 rectangular baking sheets with parchment paper.
Unroll phyllo dough.  Place one sheet on work surface. (Cover remaining dough with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towel to prevent drying.)
Lightly brush phyllo sheet with butter.  Sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar.  Place second phyllo sheet on buttered phyllo dough.  Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar.  Repeat with 2 more sheets.
With a sharp chef’s knife cut stacked phyllo sheets into 12 squares (4 across the sheets’ long side x 3 across the short side).  With a spatula, transfer the squares to prepared baking sheets.  Bake in oven until golden, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely on racks.
Repeat this process 2 more times, so you will have a total of 36 squares. If you are serving 10 there will be a few extra squares which can be used as back up if there is breakage.
(Phyllo squares can be prepared one day in advance.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.  Separate layers of phyllo dough with parchement paper.)

Prepare filling:
Beat mascarpone cheese, heavy cream, confectioners sugar and vanilla in bowl of electric mixer until stiff peaks form.  (Cream can be prepared up to 6 hours in advance.  Cover and refrigerate until use.)

Assemble Napoleons:
Arrange one phyllo square on plate or platter.  Spread one tablespoon cream over.  Arrange 2-3 strawberry slices in one layer over cream.  Top strawberries with 1-2 teaspoons cream.  Place another phyllo square on top, pressing gently.  Spread one tablespoon cream over.  Arrange 2-3 strawberry slices in one layer over cream.  Top strawberries with 1-2 teaspoons cream.  Place third phyllo square on top, pressing gently.  Place one teaspoon cream in center of phyllo square.  Place one strawberry half, cut-side down, on cream.  Dust lightly with confectioners sugar and serve.

 

 

Strawberry and Mascarpone Cream Parfait with Balsamic Syrup

Strawberry Mascarpone

It is strawberry season in our part of the world. The supermarkets and open air markets are displaying piles of luscious red strawberries, sweet and ripe, ready for eating.  Before we moved here, our home was in Denmark, which would be considered (very) northern Europe.  Summer is brief, and sunshine is not guaranteed.  At this time, strawberries would be available, but were imported from France or Spain, as the Danish spring would still be in its early stages. Danish strawberry season is fleeting – primarily for the month of June – and for that one month we would gorge ourselves on strawberries. We would pick our own at the nearby organic farm, or stop at roadside rest areas where people would sell their garden harvests from backs of pick-up trucks and car trunks. While driving on country backroads, at the end of long rural driveways, we would find lone tables perched under tilted garden umbrellas shielding cardboard boxes of just-picked strawberries from the fickle Danish sun. We would select our strawberries and pay our money into an unmanned cash box – all transactions done on the honor system, of course.

For this one month (if we were lucky, and it wasn’t a rainy season) we would stuff ourselves with strawberries. We would eat them plain and with cream, in trifles and pavlovas, in fruit soups and salads. When we gave up because we couldn’t eat them as fast as they arrived, we would freeze them for later in the year, as a tease and a whisper of our summer past.  And, finally, when we began to think that we couldn’t possibly eat another strawberry, the season would be finished.  Another fruit would replace it as the star of the show, strawberries would shift to the background and fade to a memory of summertime.  Until the next year.

April_2008_more_food_and_intl_day_3

This is a dessert I’ve prepared for dinner parties. It is more Italian in inspiration, easy to prepare and always a success, especially when prepared for my Danish family and friends who were weary of their more traditional Danish recipes:

Strawberry and Mascarpone Cream Parfaits with Balsamic Syrup and Mint
Serves 6-8

1/2 cup (80 ml.) balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

8 oz. (250 g.) chilled mascarpone cheese
2 cups (500 ml.) whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 lbs. (1 kg.) strawberries, hulled and halved

6-8 whole strawberries
Fresh mint leaves
Lemon zest

Prepare the Balsamic Syrup:
Combine vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar and lemon juice in small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil until syrup is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and cool completely. (Syrup can be made one day in advance. Cover and refrigerate.)

Prepare the Mascarpone Whipped Cream:
In a mixing bowl combine mascarpone cheese, whipping cream, 2 tablespoons sugar and vanilla. Beat until soft peaks form. Cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours.

30 minutes before serving, combine strawberries and balsamic syrup in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon sugar. Toss gently to combine. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Divide half the strawberries among 8 glass goblets. Spoon half the cream mixture over the strawberries. Top cream mixture with remaining strawberries. Top with cream mixture. Drizzle with any remaining syrup.

Garnish with whole strawberries, grated lemon zest and mint leaves.

Red White and Blueberries


A celebration of summer and independence are two good reasons to throw a party, and the fourth of July is perfectly timed to take advantage of the season’s fresh berries. Fireworks and barbecues are de rigueur as skies and grills light up across America. With a nod to the colors of the American flag, this traditional dessert is fresh and festive, making use of an abundance of summer berries while stirring up nostalgic memories of easy summer living.

Shortcake 2

Strawberry and Blueberry Shortcakes
Serves 6


For the biscuits:
2 cups all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chilled, unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
1 cup buttermilk

For the berries:
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved
12 ounces blueberries
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest

For the whipped cream:
1 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepare the biscuits:
Preheat oven to 400 F.  Sift the flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Mix in the butter with fingertips until dough resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir until sticky dough forms. Drop dough in mounds on ungreased baking sheet.  Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Cool 15 minutes.

Prepare the fruit:
While the biscuits bake, combine strawberries, blueberries, sugar, mint, lemon juice and zest in a bowl. Toss to coat. Let stand 30 minutes (can be prepared 2 hours ahead.)

For the whipped cream:
Beat cream in a bowl of electric mixer until traces of the beater appear. Add sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until soft peaks form, taking care not to overbeat.
To assemble shortcakes, cut each biscuit in half and arrange bottom half on individual serving plates. Spoon berries with juices over; top with whipped cream. Arrange biscuit top over cream.
Serve garnished with fresh mint leaves.

 

Summer Solstice Danish-Style

Denmark is the land of the (nearly) midnight sun. The sun sets just before 11:00 in the evening, only to begin its ascent again in the wee hours of the morning. In a land where the winters are long and very dark, it is no wonder that celebrations, and even a God or two, have been delegated to give thanks and perhaps curry favor with the fiery powers that be. Summer Solstice, or Sankt Hans Aften (which means the eve of St. John the Baptist Day), is the height of these jubilations, as it celebrates the longest day of the year. Bonfires are lit, and food and drink are plentiful, as the Vikings of yesteryear, and in spirit, party and feast until dawn.

This year we will attempt our own celebration on a nearby beach.  We will light a bonfire and have a picnic dinner as the sun sets.  It is likely that we will forego the authentic tradition of burning an effigy over the fire, as that may not go over too well with the local residents and could quite possibly get us arrested.  (Proper solstice tradition would have a straw witch burned over the fire.  This symbolizes the riddance of problems, worries, and threats from people’s lives.)

Food typically associated with the solstice celebration is simple picnic fare: grilled fish or meat, fresh boiled local crayfish (which can be a party unto itself) and remoulade sauce, potato salad, green salad.  All of this would be accompanied, Viking-style, by beer, shnapps and wine throughout the evening.

Krebs

For dessert, something making use of the fleeting yet prolific Danish strawberry season would be appropriate and always welcome.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
Serves 8-10

For the topping:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in small cubes

Mix the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon together in a bowl.  Cut in the butter, and work it with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Refrigerate until use.

For the fruit:
4 large or 6 small rhubarb stalks, washed and sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 pounds strawberries, stemmed and cut in half
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Gently toss rhubarb, strawberries and sugar together in a large bowl.
Arrange evenly in a rectangular baking dish.
Cover the fruit with topping.
Bake in oven until rhubarb is tender and the topping is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.