Strawberries add a taste of summer to meals

Picked in the field or at the store, this seasonal fruit adds brightness to every aspect of sweet and savory foods

 

The much-anticipated strawberry season is heating up at local pick-your-own operations, including Walvoord’s Berry Farm just north of Cedar Grove.

After all, these ripe red berries are one of the quintessential tastes of summer.

They’re a versatile fruit as well, delicious on their own but also a delightful ingredient in all types of food, from appetizers to entrees, and from drinks to desserts.

Fresh strawberries are a welcome addition to a summer fruit salad. Or you can dress fresh berries with a mixture of 1 cup honey and 1/4 cup lime juice, then sprinkle them with toasted coconut.

For a simple but delicious dessert,  dip berries in melted chocolate. Or try dipping berries in balsamic vinegar and then powdered sugar.

To quench your thirst, you can go with a traditional shake or malt or just throw a few strawberries in a blender with lemonade and ice to create a frosty drink.

Strawberries — the first fruit of the summer — are a healthy snack, packed with folic acid, potassium and fiber. Fat-free and low in calories, just eight medium-sized strawberries contain 160% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C.

They are widely available in the supermarket, but pick-your-own operations give families a first-hand experience in growing berries — and the cool, wet weather early in the season means that strawberries are extra sweet and juicy this picking season.

When picking your own, it’s recommended that you select firm berries that are evenly shaped and medium to large in size. The coloring should be even and bright red.

And while filling containers of berries, don’t forget to taste a few. That’s one of the biggest perks of picking your own fruit.

Following are strawberry recipes from www.laylita.com and wwwgeniuskitchen.com.

 

afamilyfeast.com

Marscarpone Strawberry Stuffed French Toast

1 unsliced loaf challah or white bread
4 ounces mascarpone cheese
4 ounces strawberry preserves
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 pound fresh strawberries
1/2 teaspoon milk
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons butter

    Slice four 1-1/2-inch-thick slices from the loaf. With a long sharp knife, cut down through the center, making a slit almost to the bottom and sides without poking through.
    Hand mix mascarpone and strawberry preserves, then place in a small piping bag. Pipe filling equally between the four slices, pressing the tip into the slit and squeezing as you lift up. Then use the tip of a knife to move the filling away from the opening.
    In a large bowl, beat eggs and milk until combined.
    Place the four stuffed slices into the egg mixture, turning so all sides are coated. Let them soak up the egg.
    Trim and slice strawberries and place in a bowl with milk, balsamic vinegar and powdered sugar. Toss or gently mix with a rubber spatula. Set aside.
    Heat a flat, nonstick pan or griddle to medium and melt butter to coat surface. Once the pan is hot and butter is just starting to brown, place French toast onto pan and cover with a lid. Cook three to four minutes, remove cover, flip and place cover back on. Cook an additional three to four minutes.
    Remove cover and check. Both sides should be just nicely browned but not dry or over cooked.
    Place on serving plates and cover with strawberry mixture. Serve immediately. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar, if desired.

 

Strawberry Balsamic Chicken Salad

1 cup romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup iceberg lettuce, chopped
1-1/2 cup spring mix lettuce
1/8 cup Tuscan Italian salad dressing
1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
2 tablespoons candied pecans
2 tablespoons gorgonzola cheese
1/2 cup red grapes, quartered
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
4 ounces shaved chicken, sliced
10 medium strawberries, quartered

    Place lettuces, Tuscan Italian dressing, 1/8 cup balsamic vinaigrette, 1 tablespoon pecans, 1 tablespoon gorgonzola cheese, grapes, salt and pepper in a medium mixing bowl, then toss to coat.
    In a small mixing bowl, place chicken, strawberries and remaining balsamic vinaigrette. Mix.
    Place chicken mixture on top of salad. Garnish with remaining pecans and gorgonzola cheese.

 

Strawberry Cheesecake Mousse

1/4 cup water
1 packet gelatin
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups fresh, sliced strawberries, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

    Put water into a small saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over the water. Let the gelatin soften about one minute without stirring. Heat the mixture on the stove over low heat, stirring until the gelatin is fully dissolved. If any lumps form in the gelatin, remove them with a spoon. Chill gelatin slightly.
    In a blender or food processor, blend gelatin mixture, cream cheese, strawberries and powdered sugar until thoroughly mixed. Pour into a large mixing bowl.
    In a chilled bowl, whip cream and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into the strawberry mixture, stirring gently until the cream is fully incorporated into the strawberry mixture.
    Spoon the mousse into four dessert dishes. Chill at least four hours.
    Garnish with extra strawberry pieces or other topping of your choice.

laylita.com

 

Strawberry Passion Fruit Popsicles

2 pounds ripe, fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
1 cup water
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar or honey
4 cups passion fruit juice, fresh or from frozen concentrate

    If making layered popsicles, blend all but a few strawberries with 1 cup water and sugar or honey. Taste and adjust the sweetness level based on your preference.
    Pour either of the strawberry mix or the passion fruit juice into each popsicle mold until half full. You can also alternate, making some with a bottom layer of strawberry and some with a bottom layer of passion fruit. Put them in the freezer for about an hour, then add the popsicle stick.
    A few hours later, when the first layer is almost frozen, add a second layer of strawberry or passion fruit. Return to the freezer and let them freeze completely before serving.
    Makes 10 to 12 popsicles.
    If desired, dice and slice strawberries, then place the chopped strawberries in the popsicle molds and pour in the passion fruit juice. Place a popsicle stick in the middle of each mold. Place the popsicles in the freezer until completely frozen before serving, about four hours.

 

Strawberry Lemonade

1-1/4 pounds strawberries, washed and halved
2 lemons, washed and quartered (use limes to make strawberry limeade)
1/2 to 3/4 cup honey or sugar
6 cups of water
Ice
For garnishes:
Strawberry slices
Lemon slices
Fresh herbs, such as mint, lemon verbena, lemon balm and basil

    Blend strawberries, lemons and honey with two cups water. Strain mixture, adding the remaining water. Taste and add additional honey or sugar if needed
    You can also blend the strawberries with the honey and one cup water, then place the mixture in a pitcher. In the same blender, combine the lemons with one to two cups water. Strain lemon mix into the pitcher, mix well and add the rest of the water. Taste and adjust sweetness level if needed.
    Serve cold over ice and garnished with strawberry slices, lemon slices and herbs
    Makes six to eight servings.
    For a refreshing summer cocktail, add your choice of alcohol, such as vodka, tequila or rum. You can also combine the strained mixture with white or sparkling wine instead of the four cups of water for a strawberry sangria.

 

geniuskitchen.com

Strawberry Shortcake Cocktail

3⁄4 cup heavy cream
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon honey
1-1⁄2 cups fresh strawberries
1-1⁄2 cups frozen strawberries
1-1⁄2 cups apple juice, cold
1⁄2 cup dark rum
1⁄3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1⁄2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 lemon wedge
Fresh strawberries, sliced, for garnish

    Place four daiquiri or martini glasses in freezer.
    In a bowl, whisk heavy cream, lemon zest and honey until firm peaks. Set aside in the fridge.
    In a blender, puree fresh and frozen strawberries, apple juice, rum, sugar and lemon juice.
    Put graham crumbs in a plate.
    Remove the glasses from the freezer. Moisten the edges of each glass with the lemon wedge, then dip in the graham crumbs. Pour the strawberry mixture into the glasses and garnish with whipped cream and strawberry slices.
    Makes four drinks.

 

Very Berry Salsa

1 pint blueberries
1 pint strawberry
1⁄4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons sweet onions, minced
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Hot pepper sauce
1⁄4 cup almonds, toasted and sliced or slivered

    Rinse berries and dry on paper towels. Discard any berries that are not edible. Hull the strawberries, then slice in quarters.
    In a large bowl, combine blueberries, strawberries, sugar, onion, vinegar, pepper, and hot pepper sauce. Mix well and place in refrigerator at least one hour.
    Before serving, stir in the almonds. Serve over fruit sorbet, poultry, or pork.
    Makes four servings.

 

Strawberry Burritos

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 cups sweetened whipped cream
Tortillas

    Rinse, hull and slice strawberries, then place in a large bowl. Mix with 1/4 cup sugar and stir to blend. Allow to sit, refrigerated, about one hour, until strawberries are juicy.
    Take a moist paper towel and dab it over each tortilla until slightly damp. Sift confectioners’ sugar over tortilla until it is reasonably covered. Repeat with the other side.
    Place a quarter of the sugared strawberries in the middle of each tortilla. Fold them bottom edge up and roll sideways, burrito style. Place on serving plate.
    Garnish with whipped cream and a little more sifted confectioners sugar, if desired. Serve at once.
    Makes four servings.

 

 

Orange, Strawberry and Kiwi Salad

1 tablespoon orange juice
2 teaspoons honey
2 oranges, peeled and sliced
2 cups strawberries, sliced
1 cup grapes, halved
2 kiwi fruits, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons mint leaves, chopped

    In a nonmetallic bowl, combine orange juice and honey. Add the fruits and toss to coat.
    Refrigerate, covered, at least one hour, until chilled. Sprinkle with mint before serving.
    Makes four servings.

 

Mini-Cheesecakes

1-1⁄2 cups graham cracker crumbs, chocolate wafer crumbs or vanilla wafer crumbs
1⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄4 cup butter, melted
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 14-ounce can condensed milk
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
For garnish:
Fresh strawberries or raspberries or blueberries, chocolate shavings, toasted coconut or cake sprinkles

    Combine crumbs, sugar and butter, then press equal portions onto bottom of 24 cupcake cups with paper liners.
    In large mixing bowl, beat cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in condensed milk until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.
    Spoon equal amounts, about 3 tablespoons, into cupcake liners.
    Bake in a 300-degree oven for 20 minutes, until cakes spring back when touched lightly. Cool and chill.
    Garnish as desired and serve.
    Makes 24 mini cheesecakes.

 

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