So, despite the coolish weather lately here in the northeast, we (my husband Steve) and I went strawberry picking and were pleased to find them plenty plump and sweet. While we have been in previous years, I never remember where we like to do our picking, so I chose a new place just a few miles outside of the city (and quite close to the famous Walden Pond, and ripe for celebrity watching – we spotted Doris Kerns Goodwin and hubby at the farm stand). For $2.75/ pound we could pick to our hearts delight. Barely half an hour later we had a cardboard flat full, and Steve was jonesing for more, but I knew, specifically from how quickly last Saturday’s berries started to wilt, that we would have to use them quickly. So at about 5 pounds – and $15 – we maxed out.
These little berries are my favorite flavor-wise! A small bite size and sweet, the best are the ones whose tops look like they are about to burst off because they are so filled with juice. We brought them home and rinsed three colanders full. After patiently waiting for the farm share pick-up for inspiration, we had a strawberry-filled dinner and dessert, with much help from sous chef Steve.
First, we macerated some thinly sliced berries in good balsamic while we prepped the rest of the meal. In the farm share, among other goodies, were more spring greens, spinach, carrots, spring onions (scallions – are they the same?), and a huge head of broccoli which were washed, chopped and assembled into a salad. Next, a zucchini from the farm share was sliced thin and cooked on the grill pan. The protein was chicken tenders lightly seasoned in ginger and smoked salt (my new favorite condiment! smells like a campfire and adds a subtle smokiness to whatever it touches… purchased from the local spice purveyor Christina’s in Inman Square) then also cooked on the grill pan. For the dressing, I took the macerated berries and balsamic, added good quality olive oil (ratio 2:3), the zest and juice from one lemon, salt and pepper. It was very light and fresh – next time I might add some chopped green onion or green garlic for punch, but I don’t know… I thought it was kinda perfect as is on the flavorful and fresh salad. In all, I love how much fresher veggies just off the farm taste. The zucchini, in particular, had tons of flavor that was just enhanced with a little grilling. Even its juices tasted fresh and zuch-like. A flavor I haven’t had in many months.
For dessert I made a strawberry cobbler. I looked in books and online for recipes, but everything was too complicated/ involved. I’m not much of a baker (all that exactness!), so the simpler the better as far as potential for success is concerned. I combined some ratios for wet to dry and got a winner for a 8 x 8 pan (see below). The berries were so sweet that I went light on the sugar, and then I served it with all-natural vanilla ice cream which gave it just the right balance. What was so great about this cobbler is the way the bread topping sunk down into the saucy berries, really making it a cohesive dish.
So far we’ve barely made a dent in our bowls of berries, but I look forward to the challenge to let none go to waste. I have my eye on adapting a recipe for balsamic strawberry jam to can (jar, whatever) and then give away during the holidays. More on my berry exploits to come.
(Straw) Berry Cobbler
1 cup flour (you can mix cornmeal and all-purpose, or all-purpose and whole grain if you’d like. I did 3/4 regular, 1/4 cornmeal)
2 T sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
salt (1/2 t?)
optional: 1/2 t nutmeg, t cinnamon
2 T softened butter
1/2 cup milk
mix dry together, and then add wet to make a thin batter. Dollop on your pan filled about 2 inches deep with sliced berries. Bake about 30 – 40 minutes or until the top is starting to brown.