On some of the cooking blogs I follow I’m beginning to see the same plaintive question: “What new thing can I do with strawberries?’ You’ve made shortcake, and you’ve served the berries over biscuits and angel food cake. You’ve put out bowls full of sugared berries. What else can you do to capture that summer flavor? Here are some ideas.
These days we make salsa out of every fruit imaginable, but when I first made this, ten years ago, it was cutting edge. I proudly served it with corn chips on Easter Sunday and wouldn’t you know, one of our extended family refuses to even try anything with onions in it. But don’t leave them out.
1 pint chopped strawberries
8 green onions
2 pints cherry tomatoes, chopped
¼ c. fresh cilantro, chopped
Mix together. Coat with a dressing made of:
6 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt
Refrigerate at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips.
Want a dessert? Here’s one simple and one more intimidating..
This is basically strawberries and cream. Serves four.
1 cup strawberries, washed, stemmed, and sliced
2 Tbsp. sugar (divided)
2 cups whipped cream
1 tsp. vanilla
Cookies crumbs for topping (optional)
Toss the berries with one Tbsp. sugar. Reserve a few slices for garnish, and puree remainder in blender, with vanilla, until smooth. Whip the cream with the remaining sugar. Gently fold the puree into the whipped cream.
Spoon into four small serving dishes or cocktail glasses. Top with crumbled cookies of your choice and/or reserved strawberry slices. Some recipes call for butter cookies, but I think Girl Scout thin mints would be exceptional if you happen to have them in the freezer.
It isn’t that this is hard to make. It’s just that the idea of meringue is a bit intimidating. The late Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, for whom the Pavlova dessert was named, is said to have been ethereal, delicate and slightly controversial. Her namesake, this simple confection, is a ethereal and delicate but there’s no controversy about the taste. As light and airy as you expect a ballerina to be.
3 egg whites
¾ cup sugar
Pinch of cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Be sure your bowl is perfectly clean and there is not a speck of yolk with your eggs—you do separate each into a separate dish, don’t you, so if you ruin one, you haven’t ruined the whole batch? Slowly add sugar as you beat, a tablespoon at a time. Beat until whites form glossy peaks.
Spread the meringue in a ten-inch circle on your prepared baking sheet—it might be wise to draw the circle on to give you a guide.
Bake 1-1/2 hours at 275. Turn off the oven but do not open it, no, not even to peek. Let the meringue dry six hours or more. Overnight is great—or all day.
For the strawberries;
1 pint strawberries—washed, stemmed, and halved or quartered
½ tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
Combine above ingredients and let sit in a covered bowl at least 15 minutes. When ready to serve, whip
2 cups heavy cream
Carefully peel paper off pavlova and set it on a platter. With the back of a spoon, make a gentle indentation in the top. Don’t be alarmed if it cracks; it’s supposed to. Spoon whipped cream over the meringue and top with the berries. Serve at once, cutting very carefully into serving size pieces.
My cooking oddity for the day
I’m a big fan of Sam Sifton, food editor for The New York Times, but occasionally his experimentation goes too far for me. Like the other day when he offered a recipe for broccoli with apricot puttanesca. Puttanesca is a sauce for pasta that normally includes tomatoes, garlic, olives, and anchovies. The name comes from the Italian for prostitute, because those “loose women” served pasta with a sauce made of whatever was in their cuupboards.
Apricot? Really/ With broccoli?