This June marks the end of my fifth year writing this column. Time sure flew by — 131 columns and well over 400 recipes made.
Seeing bright red, sweet and luscious berries on sale last week made me wonder if it was time to cook some strawberries for the penultimate column of year 5.
Looking through previous columns I was surprised to find, given how much I love strawberries, that I’ve only devoted one to this delectable fruit, the savory strawberry column from June 3, 2020, partnered strawberries with avocado, salmon, focaccia and pork ribs , exploring “the not so sweet side of the genus Fragaria.” Other than that, I’d only presented five other recipes containing fresh strawberries over the years: one drink, one soup, one cookie, and two tarts (one sweet and one savory).
Surely there was something missing here, and it’s time to give the sweet side some attention. Perhaps because strawberries are so good fresh out of the container, mixed with yogurt or ice cream, sliced on on top of cereal or granola, nestled into a salad or crude plate, slathered with clotted cream at the Wimbledon Tennis Club or simply lightly rinsed and popped directly into your mouth, I just hadn’t gotten around to doing more with them. It was definitely time to explore some cookbooks, food magazines and blogs to give the berry its due.
As always, I selected sweet smelling, firm berries with a bright red color. That wasn’t hard as it seems to be a good year for strawberries, with few under ripe or blemished fruits in the containers. After a quick rinse under the tap I quickly hulled the stems with a dessert spoon and was ready to go. Slicing and dicing is easy when the berries are fresh and firm and yet the berries still cook down to a smooth, silky texture when stewed.
A spring food:Food Fare: Fresh, local asparagus is a joy of spring
But what to cook? I threw that question out over dinner with some friends who are regular column readers and here’s what they requested. A semifreddo, a strawberry lemon pound cake, a strawberry rhubarb jam with cardamom and a strawberry infused vinegar. After spending some time reviewing the possibilities and then pairing the fruits with cream, rhubarb, lemon or cardamom spice, some delicious strawberry aromas began to fill the kitchen. Here’s what I have for you this week.
Semifreddo is an Italian word meaning half cold. It’s a dessert similar to ice cream but lighter. This recipe is simplified, combining whipped cream, Greek yogurt and folding in a lightly sweetened strawberry sauce. After being frozen in a loaf pan overnight, it’s ready for the next day’s dessert table. The result is creamy, not too sweet, with a nice strawberry flavor enhanced by the strawberry sauce topping.
The Strawberry-Lemon Loaf Cake isn’t technically a pound cake, as it doesn’t have any butter in it and it’s a bit less dense in texture. But it has a pound cake taste, kept ultra moist with vegetable oil and sour cream and with sweet strawberry contrasting with tart lemon flavors. Serve it straight up or with whipped cream or ice cream, and maybe a sliced strawberry or two.
The Easy Strawberry Rhubarb Vanilla Jam with Cardamom was just that, easy. Equal parts of rhubarb and strawberries are chopped up and stewed with water, lemon and cardamom spice, requiring only occasional stirring. While the recipe calls for mashing the fruit to the desired consistency, I found that mine stewed down to a nice texture all on its own. Personally I didn’t find that the cardamom flavor came through as well as I’d hoped (although that pleased my wife), so if you’re a cardamom fan you might want to add a bit more. Spread on top of a toasted muffin with melted butter it was perfect for afternoon tea and it will store well in the refrigerator for a few weeks or in the freezer until needed.
And finally there is a Strawberry Infused Vinegar. Strawberries, plus or minus herbs (I used basil and bee balm, but there are many other combinations possible) are steeped in warm vinegar and left to infuse for up to two weeks. Once infused, strain out the strawberries and herbs, simmer the liquid for 10 minutes and re-bottle; pop it into the fridge until needed. Sprinkle it over fruit or veggies, make it into a vinaigrette or use it in any other place where you might want a sweet vinegar.
Strawberry Shortcake Festival
There are, of course, many other ways to use strawberries in your cooked dishes but you don’t have to cook them all. The Strawberry Shortcake Festival is coming up, 11 am-8 pm June 9 at Switchyard Park Pavilion. It’s a chance to enjoy the fresh berry all while supporting a good cause — the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington. Maybe I’ll see you there. And if you have a recipe idea for me to explore in a future column, send your ideas along to The Herald-Times.
Creamy Strawberry Semifreddo
Source: by Rosemary Molloy, An Italian in my Kitchen
1 1/2 cups cream whole/whipping or heavy (at least 30% fat)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (whole)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Strawberry Sauce #1:
1/3 cup sugar (see note)
10 1/2 ounces fresh strawberries, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Note: If the strawberries are not very sweet then add 1-2 tablespoons extra.
Strawberry Sauce #2 Topping
7 ounces fresh strawberries, chopped
2-3 tablespoons powdered/icing sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1. Line an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan with plastic
Strawberry Sauce #1
2. In a small pot add the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice bring to a boil, squishing with a potato masher, cook 3-5 minutes stirring constantly, remove to a clean bowl and let cool, then refrigerate until cold. (I placed mine in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.)
3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whip the cream until stiff, fold in the yogurt and vanilla then gently fold in the cold strawberry sauce. Pour into the prepared loaf pan, cover with plastic wrap and let freeze at least 4-5 hours.
Strawberry Sauce #2 Topping
4. In a blender add the cut up strawberries, lemon juice and blend until smooth. Pour into a small saucepan, add sugar and cook on low for approximately 5 minutes or until thickened. Let cool and serve if desired over the semifreddo. Enjoy!
The semifreddo should be stored well covered in the freezer, it will keep for 1-2 weeks.
Strawberry-Lemon Loaf Cake
Source: by Millie Peartree, New York Times Cooking
For the cake:
Nonstick cooking spray
1 cup diced strawberries
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
½ cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the lemon glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1. Make the cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
2. In a small bowl, toss the strawberries with 1 tablespoon sugar to macerate while you prepare the cake batter.
3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, lemon zest, baking powder, salt and remaining 1 cup sugar. Whisk to combine. In a second large bowl, combine the sour cream, oil, eggs, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Whisk to combine.
4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and stir gently to mix. Lift the macerated berries out of their liquid and add them to the batter. Gently fold in the berries until even incorporated.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean, 60-70 minutes. If it looks to be browning on top too much, tent with aluminum foil. Cool it in the pan on a rack for about 10 minutes, then unmold the cake carefully and transfer to the rack to cool completely.
6. Make the glaze: In a small bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar with the lemon zest and juice and stir until smooth. Pour the glaze over the cooled cake. Let stand until set.
Helpful Tip: Reserve 1-2 spoonfuls of the flour mixture in a bowl and toss with the drained strawberries, this will help keep the berries from sinking to the bottom of the pan.
Substitution: You can make this cake with blueberries during blueberry season.
Easy Strawberry Rhubarb Vanilla Jam with Cardamom
Source: by Danae, Recipe Runner · May 27, 2016.
1 pound strawberries, washed, hulled and cut in half
1 pound rhubarb, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup water
Juice of half a lemon
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1. In a large saucepan over medium high heat combine the strawberries, rhubarb, water, lemon juice, sugar and cardamom.
2. Stir everything together and bring the mixture to a boil.
3. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about 30-40 minutes stirring occasionally.
4. Once the strawberries and rhubarb mixture has reduced by about half use a potato masher or back of a spoon to mash them to the consistency you prefer.
5. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla bean paste or extract.
6. Pour the jam into two clean jars and cool completely on the counter.
7. Cover the jam and store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use.
Strawberry Infused Vinegar
Source: by Heather Designer, mommypotamus.com.
1 cup strawberries, cut into quarters
1/2 cup gently packed fresh basil or mint leaves, roughly chopped (or an additional 1/2 cup strawberries if you prefer)
2.5 cups white wine vinegar, or a little more if needed to cover strawberries and herbs (acidity should be at least 5%)
1. Preheat your oven to 225 degrees, then wash your jar with soap, place it on a cookie sheet, then put it in the oven for 20 minutes to sterilize it. Remove the jar and place it on a hot pad to cool. Wash and dry the lid thoroughly.
2. While the jar is cooling, wash the strawberries and herbs (if using) and remove any moldy or damaged parts. Allow the strawberries/herbs to dry fully, then cut the strawberries into quarters. Place them along with the herbs into your jar.
3. Heat white wine vinegar in a pan until it is steaming, then pour it into the jar. Leave at least 1/2 inch of space between the top of the vinegar and the lid. Allow the vinegar to cool before sealing the jar.
4. Place jar in a cool area that is not in direct sunlight and allow to infuse for up to two weeks. Strain out the berries and herbs and then simmer the vinegar on low for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and then pour it back into the jar. Refrigerate and use within 3 months.