Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Strawberry fields forever

Refrigeration, flash-freezing and inter-continental shipping; in this lucky age, one has access to almost any fruit or vegetable at just about any time of the year. I don't know that it's necessarily a good thing-- fruits, especially, taste so much better when in season. Now that it's May, the strawberries have finally arrived, and you can't traipse down a produce aisle without seeing mounds, pints and packages of these bright red beauties.

As a kid, I remember seeing tiny red buds popping out around the edges of the yard. The little wild strawberries, fanned by delicate white flowers were irresistible, and I popped one in my mouth. I was confused by the flavor, which still tasted strawberry, but wasn't at all sweet.

Now I adore raw, wild strawberries, but they've become just a bit harder to find. I go (almost) straight to the source at the Williamsburg Farmer's Market, where the crowds line up steady and long for fresh pints of local strawberries. They are delicious on their own, and at this time of year, don't need much done to enhance their sweet flavor.

With all the talk of verrines these days... you know, tiny layered portions served savory or sweet? They derive their name from, in French, the little glasses they are served in. At any rate, I cleaned, hulled and diced some strawberries. They went into a bowl with a touch of sugar and a splash of Cointreau. While they macerated, I roughly chopped some almond biscotti, then toasted coconut flakes until golden on the stove top.

In small glasses, I began the layering: a base of biscotti, a layer of low-fat coconut yogurt, the strawberries. I repeated once more, finishing with a few sliced strawberries and a sprinkling of that lovely coconut. Beautiful, refreshing, and fairly light-- you'll not want to let this sit too long, lest the biscotti become too mushy.

Sometimes, it's nice to kick back and simply drink your dessert. That's where the strawbellini comes in, based on that Harry's Bar classic. I used a Brachetto d'Acqui, a fruity, low-alcohol sparkling wine that is ruby red and a little sweet.

You could use Prosecco, champagne or even sparkling water. Roughly purée some strawberries with a touch of sugar, then add to the bottom of a champagne flute. Pour in your liquid of choice, garnish with half a strawberry, and enjoy the well-deserved fruits of your labor!

Strawberry-Yogurt Verrines

1 pint strawberries, cleaned, hulled and diced (reserve 3 strawberries, sliced)
1/8- 1/4 cup sugar (depending upon the sweetness of the berries)
splash of Cointreau or Grand Marnier (can also substitute unsweetened orange juice concentrate)
12 almond biscotti, roughly chopped
1/2 cup flaked coconut, toasted
12 ounces low-fat coconut yogurt

Combine the strawberries, sugar and Cointreau in a bowl and let sit.
Roughly chop the biscotti, keeping chunks on the larger side.
Meanwhile, toast the coconut in a dry pan on the stovetop over medium heat. Stir to prevent burning, removing when most have turned golden brown. Set aside to cool.
In small glasses, layer the biscotti, yogurt, strawberries; repeat until full.
Top with 3 slices of strawberries and some of the toasted coconut. Serve immediately.
2 generous servings.


1 pint strawberries, cleaned and hulled (reserve two halved berries)
1/8 - 1/4 cup sugar (depending upon the sweetness of your strawberries)
1 bottle ice cold sparkling wine (Brachetto d'Acqui, Prosecco, champagne or sparkling water)

Process the berries & sugar into a puree. If desired, strain through a fine-mesh sieve to remove seeds.
In 4 champagne flutes, places about 2 tablespoons of the puree. Slowly add the beverage of choice, garnish with 1/2 strawberry, and serve.
Serves 4.


Blogger Susan said...

Ooh, I really love these recipes! I made orange bellinis for Christmas Eve dinner, now I'll have to try your strawberry version. Aren't strawberries just a happy food? Thanks for the great recipes and beautiful photos!

9:29 AM  
Blogger Acme Instant Food said...

Holy cow those look so amazing! For me, strawberries usually fall into the "bland and boring" or "juicy ecstasy" category. Those photos raise the bar on the latter category! Gorgeous!

1:42 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Don't you just love this time of year, for nothing else than the strawberries! I love both the recipes and can't wait to hit our local farmer's market to get some of the little red gems.

6:53 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I'd been making verrines for years and didn't even know it.{g}

BTW, almonds and hazelnuts (in the form of Amaretto and Far Angelica) also pair wonderfully with strawberries.

7:22 AM  
Blogger iamchanelle said...

hey hey! yum!
and i'll bet those verrines would be fab with the coconut sorbet i just made last night (and am about to post on today, hee!).

7:44 AM  
Blogger s'kat said...

Susan, strawberries are indeed a happy food!

Acme, 'juicy ecstasy'- love it!

Barbara- this is also the time of year when I make fresh strawberry pies. so good!

Kevin- Quite frankly, I'm still slightly confused about the whole thing myself! I can certainly imagine those going quite well with strawberries.

iac: Yum! That sounds perfect!

9:10 AM  
Blogger sher said...

Oh, my mouth is puddlin'. I can almost smell the strawberries in those pictures! Wonderful!

10:56 PM  

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