One of life’s greatest pleasures is picking a perfectly ripe strawberry straight off the vine.
Each year we eagerly await the season, pack up the car and head out to Long Island’s east end to pick (and eat) to our heart’s content.
Just thinking about biting into a juicy, sun-kissed strawberry makes me happy.
Put it on your bucket list.
To celebrate this family tradition (where does the time go?!) here are 3 simple strawberry recipes for you to enjoy.
Jake turned 5 over the weekend.
He requested a strawberry shortcake for his birthday.
I was secretly relieved he wanted something ‘normal,’ rather than a cake decked out with train tracks, Minions and blue dye #5 sprinkled all over the top. Don’t even get me started.
Ina Garten’s vanilla cake has been something I’ve always wanted to try, and this was the perfect opportunity to experiment. The recipe can be found here.
I swapped out 1/4 cup of butter for oil, and used 2 cake pans as opposed to 1 large sheet pan.
For the frosting, this is my go-to recipe: 1 stick of softened unsalted butter (4 oz/113 g) + 1 bar of cream cheese (8 oz/226 g) + 1 box of sifted powdered sugar (16 oz/ 453 g) although I would start with half the box first, and add more to taste. Whip with an electric mixer until completely smooth.
Note: please double the frosting amount above if you want a thicker filled center and enough to frost the sides.
And by the way, although there is cream cheese in the frosting, it doesn’t taste overtly cream cheesy; it’s a cross between a traditional buttercream and cream cheese frosting.
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So here’s an interesting story:
Years ago, I watched an old ‘Barefoot Contessa’ episode where Ina made homemade strawberry jam (yes, another Ina reference here folks!).
She proceeded with the usual steps, simmering fresh strawberries and sugar together in a large pot.
But most memorable was the secret ingredient she threw in…
She added 5 of them to be exact.
I thought this was so bizarre.
Why 5 blueberries?
What was this going to do to the jam? Would it taste like strawberries? Blueberries? Mixed fruit?!
I didn’t get it.
Ina didn’t really go into detail either, except that blueberries added flavor.
And then, like most random things I totally forgot.
Until this particular salad: mixed greens, endives, strawberries, hazelnuts and balsamic dressing… with dried blueberries.
After just one bite, I suddenly remembered…
The strawberry jam.
The combination of strawberries and dried blueberries not only adds flavor, it brings your tastebuds to the next level.
It’s one of those magical combinations that just works.
Think: peanut butter and jelly, chocolate and hazelnut, wine and cheese…
Ina and Jeffrey!
PS- when I posted this picture on Instagram, a reader mentioned she makes a similar salad with gorgonzola and blueberries. I would definitely try that combo if you like piquant cheese. I’m salivating just typing the thought!
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Admittedly, I have no qualms about eating birthday cake for breakfast.
But here’s a more suitable option that won’t send your body into sugar shock.
This wholegrain strawberry breakfast cake is made with white whole wheat flour and maple syrup, although you can use brown sugar here too. It’s hearty, not too sweet and studded with juicy strawberries and a crunchy crumble topping for texture. Great with coffee.
You can find the recipe and accompanying story here.
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I know Mother’s Day isn’t until this weekend, but I want to wish everyone- all mamas, grandmothers, great grandmothers, mamas to be- a beautiful and relaxing day!