Happy summer, all! This week marked the solstice and the official start to the BEST SEASON OF THE YEAR for food. Our office kitchen for the last few days has been full of strawberries, and our own Ellen Rocco has already made up her first batch of strawberry jam. It’s pretty glorious, actually.
Even New York state is getting in on the action: On Monday, we received a press release from the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets declaring it officially strawberry season. Commissioner Richard A. Ball had this to say:
Strawberry season is a short season but a highly productive one, and without question, we grow some of the most delicious strawberries in the world right here in New York…On my own farm, our strawberries are in and they look and taste fantastic. Fresh, local strawberries are the sweetest strawberries you can buy and I encourage New Yorkers to support our growers during this strawberry season.
I concur. Now, enough of this preambling, let’s get to your suggestions! As usual, most of you offered strawberry advice more in the mode of “stick in mouth and eat” than your more complicated recipes. Not surprising, given how delicious they are fresh! A good example from Donna Smith-Raymond on Facebook: “No recipes needed with the strawberries around here! Just an empty tummy and a well-trained “nom-nom” voice!” You also recommended strawberries with vanilla ice cream, dark chocolate, champagne (obviously), and alluded to (but didn’t provide — hm!) recipes for strawberry marmalade and balsamic strawberry jam.
On the jam front, here’s Ellen’s recipe, which she says is straight from the Ball canning book:
“Ellen’s” strawberry jam
2 quarts strawberries, 6 cups sugar…mix together and cook for about 40 minutes. Pour into sterile jars and process in boiling water for 15 minutes.
I also add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and use slightly less sugar than called for (but be careful—if you use too little sugar the jam won’t “jam”).
And a couple other recipes that came to us this week….the second one’s kid of intriguing!
From our own June Peoples:
This is an adaptation of a recipe given to me by Dorothy Fisher many years ago. She was one of my favorite people in the world. Her kitchen was always filled with beautiful baked goods and delicious snacks. I especially love baking this because it fills my house with a wonderful smell that always makes me think of her and smile.
1 pint of strawberries (prepare the night before)
Clean the berries and remove the caps. Place them in a food processor with up to 1/3 cup of sugar. Pulse just to chop, but don’t puree.
pre-heat oven to 350°
You’ll need 10 ounces of the strawberry mixture for your cake. Reserve an additional 2 tablespoons for the icing. What you do with the rest of the strawberry mixture is entirely up to you, but I would consider eating it because 1) life is short and 2) STRAWBERRIES!
carefully butter and flour two round cake pans
1 white cake mix
4 large eggs
2/3 cup of butter
1—3 ounce package of strawberry gelatin
Mix all of your cake ingredients together and blend for about 2 minutes on medium, the pour into the pans. Bake for approximately 30 minutes—testing with a toothpick at approximately 25 minutes.
Cool completely, and then carefully remove from pans.
2 tbsp. of your reserved strawberry mixture
1—8 ounce package of cream cheese at room temperature
4 tbsp. butter
1 box powdered sugar
Blend ingredients together until smooth and ice the cake.
NOTE: For a really quick and easy gluten free version of this cake you can use a King Arthur gluten free yellow cake mix, gluten free cream cheese, and gluten free strawberry gelatin.
And, from Kristin Worden in Ogdensburg:
Spread one package of crescent roll dough on a pizza pan and bake it…cool Mix 1package of softened cream cheese with powdered sugar…
Spread it over the cooled dough and top with cut up strawberries. Our favorite !!
I’ll be out of the office next week, but Jackie’s taking over for me on the recipe beat and she’ll be looking for your favorite picnic foods (so if you’re out there, Yogi Bear, now’s your chance!) You can send those along at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great week!