Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sweet and Savory Strawberries

I love strawberries but probably not quite as much as my daughters do!

When I pick strawberries, they eat them and eat them and eat them.

I can't say I blame them, because fresh picked strawberries are far superior to the ones from the store.

Strawberries have been cheap at the store lately, so I picked some up and made a couple of recipes for you!

Of course, they are good this time of year, but they even more amazing with freshly picked strawberries.  So, hold on to these recipes!

Of course, a special thanks goes out to our Community Group for being willing taste testers :)

Up first, we have our savory bite:  Strawberry Bruschetta.

Bruschetta is usually made with tomatoes and basil, but did you know that bruschetta actually refers to the bread that is toasted and can be topped with any number of different delicious things?

There you learned something new today!

For the Strawberry Bruschetta, you need:

Thin loaf of bread
10 strawberries (or enough to equal 1 cup diced)
1 tablespoon sugar
4 oz cream cheese (half of the packaged pictured)
Fresh basil
Balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil

First, chop up enough strawberries for 1 cup.  I like the pieces to be fairly little.  Stir in 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Put in the fridge until ready to serve.

Put softened cream cheese into a bowl.  Chop up 2 big leaves of basil.

I chiffonade the basil first.  That's a fancy way of saying that I roll it up and cut it into thin strips.  (I get rid of the stems.)

After it has been chiffonaded, chop it into little bits.

Combine it with the cream cheese, and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

For the bread, I used thin french bread that was fairly soft.  You can use a baguette which is quite crusty.  I prefer to start with a softer bread so that it isn't too hard after toasting it.

Cut the bread into even slices. 

Here is my trick...I use the width of the knife to measure out the thickness of my slice.

I simply lay the knife across and that's where I cut.  It makes it significantly easier to have slices of equal thickness.

Put the slices on a baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes at 300 degrees.

Flip the slices and bake for 6 more minutes.

Let the bread cool slightly.  Spread on some basil cream cheese and top with about a tablespoon of strawberries (or however much looks good to you).  

Chop up some more basil and sprinkle on top of the strawberries.  Lightly drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar and olive oil on top.  I pour a little bit of vinegar into a spoon and drizzle from the spoon.  I find I can control the amount a lot better that way.  I then do the same with olive oil.

Doesn't it look yummy?!  The balsamic vinegar adds a wonderful little tang and the olive oil adds a nice richness. 

Leah was helping me take a picture of this outside and it was really windy :)

Next up, our sweet treat:  Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake!

Start off by combining 1 and 1/3 cups whole milk, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1 lightly beaten egg in a small bowl or measuring cup.

Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine 3 and 1/3 cups of flour, 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup sugar.

Add in 12 tablespoons of cold butter cut into small pieces.  Toss to coat the butter with the dry ingredients.

Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the pieces of butter are no larger than the size of peas.  (Very often when I deal with butter in this way, I freeze it and then grate it into the dry ingredients.  That would have been much easier.)

Mix in 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.

Pour the milk mixture over the dry ingredients and stir gently until a sticky dough forms.

This is a good time for a 2 year old to wake up...before you knead the dough!

Now that your 2 year old is up, very gently knead the dough until most of the dry ingredients are incorporated.

The dough is so sticky that if it was a person, I would name it Sticky McStickerson.


Now, the original recipe says to be careful not to overwork the dough.  So, I will tell you to be careful not to overwork the dough, even though I'm not exactly sure what that would look like.  I'm guessing you don't want to handle it so much that your butter all melts.

Scoop the dough onto a baking sheet (line with parchment paper or a silpat...I'm a huge believer in parchment paper; it's revolutionary stuff!) in about 1/3 cup sized mounds.  Pat them down until they are about an inch thick.  Sprinkle the tops with additional sugar (I use the bigger sugar for topping) and bake at 425 degrees for 15-18 minutes.  You want the shortcakes to puff up and give just slightly when lightly pressed.  

This made 20 shortcakes for me.

While the shortcakes are baking, slice about 1 and 1/2 pounds of strawberries.

Combine with 3-4 tablespoons of sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Stir to combine and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

Just before serving, make some whipped cream.  On high speed, whip together 1 cup of heavy cream, 2-3 tablespoons of powdered sugar, and a dash of vanilla extract.  Whip on high speed until medium-stiff peaks form.

To serve: slice shortcake in half, top the bottom with whipped cream, then strawberries, and put the shortcake top back on.

Don't you just want to take a big ol' forkful of that mound of deliciousness?  I know I do!

I can't wait until strawberry picking season is upon us!


Recipe Source:  Strawberry Bruschetta is adapted from Annie's Eats, and the Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake is from there, too!

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