EATING IN SEASON: Fresh strawberries
It’s that time of year. The one I wait for every winter when I am tempted to buy what I intuitively know will be a disappointing, tasteless strawberry. It’s FRESH STRAWBERRY season, finally. The strawberries are small and succulent, bursting with flavor and sweetness. I can sit and eat a pint all by myself. Those delicate heart-shaped berries inspire me to cook up a storm. Is there nothing better than a strawberry rhubarb pie, or how about some strawberry ice cream and better yet, preserving the bounty and canning some strawberry jam?
You can find pints of strawberries at the farmers markets right now but you can also pick your own. I find it particularly satisfying to pick my own. If you go to the Berkshire Grown website and click on Map-o-licious you can find a few pick-your-own farms like Thompson Finch Farm in Ancram, N.Y., or Ioka Valley Farm in Hancock, Mass. Be warned, though, that you must have a plan for your strawberries lest they rot. Freshly picked strawberries are delicate but not hardy. A day or two delay could ruin your plans as the fruit will likely rot. Moreover, there is something satisfying about eating warm freshly picked fruit. The flavors are more concentrated and the experience, more spiritual, more connected.
Stawberry rhubarb pie
We all know that strawberries marry well with another of the abundant June vegetables, rhubarb. I added lemon zest to the filling for a perfect additional flavor dimension. The crust recipe is my Mom’s go-to, no-fail piecrust recipe. Hope you enjoy this as much as we do!
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp of sour cream
1 tsp of sugar
3/4 tsp of salt
2 1/2 of flour
1/2 cup chilled butter
1/2 cup of Lard (chilled)
Combine sour cream, water, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Cut butter and lard into the flour until it resembles coarse meal. Add sour cream mixture until dough forms. Divide dough in half and flatten into 2 discs. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Approximately 1 lb. of rhubarb, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces (remove any tough strings)
1 quart strawberries, hulled and halved (cut larger berries into smaller pieces)
Zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
Roll out half of your pie dough and line a 9-inch pie plate. Trim excess from edges and refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, toss together rhubarb, strawberries, and lemon zest. In a separate bowl mix together sugar cornstarch, and salt. Just before adding the filling to the pie plate, toss the fruit in the dry ingredients. Brush the rim of the bottom piecrust with milk or egg wash.
Roll out second half of dough and lay over the filled pie. Trim the edges, and tuck the top crust over the rim of the bottom crust to form a tight seal. Crimp into whatever pattern you like. Brush the top crust with milk or egg wash, sprinkle raw sugar, and cut a few slits to allow steam to escape.
Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, turning the pie once halfway through. Lower heat to 350 and bake 30-40 minutes more, or until crust is golden and fully baked, and juices have thickened. Remove to a rack and allow to cool completely, at least one hour.
Strawberry ice cream
Nothing says “summer” quite like the ripening of little red strawberries. One way to enjoy this fruit and to cool off in the heat is through my strawberry ice cream recipe. Imagine this along side the strawberry rhubarb pie – dessert nirvana!!
1-2 pints of strawberries, stemmed and sliced
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar (I use organic.)
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Combine strawberries, 1/3 cup sugar and lemon juice and let macerate for 2 hours.
Mix milk and 2/3 cup sugar with a hand blender until dissolved.
Then add with the vanilla and heavy cream and liquid from macerated strawberries into the ice cream freezer bowl and turn on ice cream maker and churn for 25 minutes.
Then add strawberries for 5 more minutes, place in freezer-safe container and let set up in freezer for an hour or so or eat immediately for a soft-serve consistency.