Berries fit any menu

Published 12:40 pm Wednesday, April 29, 2009

By Staff
Fruits and vegetables are always best when served in season. Nothing could be truer, especially when it comes to strawberries.
Strawberry season is in full swing with the strawberries being fairly plentiful this year. The ones I have been lucky enough to get my hands on have been really sweet and juicy. There is a lot to be said for sun-ripened goodness when it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables. The strawberries in the grocery stores are acceptable substitutes when you can’t get your hands on truly fresh strawberries, but nothing compares to homegrown goodness.
My son loves strawberries and I’ve been guilty of purchasing a flat or two already this season. I even took some good Alabama strawberries to share with my Louisiana relatives a week or so back. They couldn’t believe how red the berries were and how sweet they tasted. They agreed that strawberries like the ones I took from Alabama certainly couldn’t be found in their part of Louisiana.
I hope you are able to get your hands on some great strawberries while they are at their peak of freshness. Just in case you do find good berries, you may want to hang on to the recipes I’ve found to share with you this week.
This first recipe is a good one to use if you are a strawberry and salad lover. The dressing is very easy to make and can be doubled for use another day. The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Strawberry Vinaigrette
1 cup olive oil
1/2 pint fresh strawberries, halved
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried tarragon
1/4 tsp. white sugar
In a blender or food processor, mix olive oil, strawberries, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, tarragon and sugar. Blend until smooth.
This next strawberry recipe is another one that uses fresh strawberries and cream cheese. I can’t think of anything more appetizing that those ingredients put together for a wonderful treat.
Strawberry Delight
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 (12 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 1/2 quarts fresh strawberries, halved
1 (8 ounce) jar ready-to-use strawberry glaze
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the butter, flour, and pecans in a bowl, and press into a 9×13 inch baking dish. Bake 10 to 15 minutes; do not allow to brown. Set aside until completely cool. In a bowl, mix the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Blend in the whipped topping. Spread over the cooled crust. Refrigerate eight hours, or overnight. Top with strawberries and drizzle with glaze to serve.
Finally, for a fresh strawberry treat that anyone can appreciate, this next recipe combines the berry with chocolate. Those two tastes together make for a wonderfully unforgettable dessert.
Choco-Berry Mousse Cake
1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
3 tbsp. butter, melted
2 pints fresh strawberries, halved
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp. white sugar
In a bowl, mix crumbs and butter to blend thoroughly. Press evenly onto bottom of nine inch springform pan. Stand strawberry halves about pan, touching, side-by-side, pointed ends up, with cut sides against the side of pan; set aside. Place chocolate chips in blender container. In small saucepan over medium heat, mix water and corn syrup. Bring to a boil and simmer for one minute. Immediately pour over chocolate chips and blend until smooth. Cool to room temperature. While chocolate cools, in a large mixer bowl, beat 1 1/2 cups of the cream to form stiff peaks. With a rubber spatula, fold cooled chocolate into whipped cream to blend thoroughly. Pour into prepared pan. Level top. Points of strawberries might extend about the chocolate mixture. Cover and refrigerate for four to 24 hours. Up to two hours before serving, in a medium mixing bowl, beat remaining one cup cream to form soft peaks. Add sugar. Beat to form stiff peaks. Remove side of pan. Place cake on serving plate. Pipe or dollop whipped cream onto top of cake. Arrange remaining halved strawberries on whipped cream. To serve, cut into wedges with thin knife, wiping blade between cuts.
I hope you get a chance to have some fresh strawberries in your house this season. Using the berries to create a decadent dessert will make you the envy of the neighborhood and get you ranked as the best cook in the world by your family.
Remember, if you have a recipe or kitchen tip you’d like to share with our readers, let me know and I’ll pass it along. I promise to give you credit for your submission. You can send the information to me by email at or by regular mail at 407 St. Nicholas Ave., Brewton, AL 36426.
Until next week, happy cooking.