Category Archives: strawberry

Lemon Pound Cake

Springtime.  Sun, longer days, dreams of Summer bliss.  All such happy, happy  thoughts.

See, the gods and goddesses got the lemon season totally right.  Sunny yellow?  Check.  Tart but ready for a bit of sweet sugar?  Check.  A perfect transition between seasons.

Yet, the gods and goddesses did manage to get a few things wrong.  Limes and avocados ripe in the winter to spring months, but the tomatoes for guac in August.  What in the world does that do to margarita season? Another gripe is the whole root vegetable thing in October.  Here along the Pacific coast, October is sunny and warm and inviting and begs for leisurely walks to soak in the sun’s rays.  Do root vegetables go with this vibe?  I think not.

For now, let’s get back to Springtime, and lemons, and strawberries and make a lemon pound cake and smother a thick slice with strawberries fresh from the field.  We can all get on board with that plan.

Lemon Pound Cake

recipe inspired by Cooking Light , strawberries from Chan’s strawberry stand

Ingredients:

For the cake

  • Cooking spray
  • 3 TBS dry breadcrumbs
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup butter or stick margarine, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 TBS grated lemon rind
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 8 oz low-fat sour cream
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

For the topping:

  • 2 baskets fresh strawberries, cleaned and sliced into thirds
  • 1 TBS sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Coat a 10-inch tube pan with cooking spray, and dust with the breadcrumbs.
  3. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; stir well with a whisk. Beat the butter in a large bowl at medium speed of a mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the granulated sugar and lemon extract, beating until well-blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add grated lemon rind and 2 tablespoons lemon juice; beat 30 seconds. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with sour cream, beating at low speed, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Combine 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and powdered sugar. Drizzle glaze over top of cake.
  5. Prepare strawberries by combining strawberries and sugar in a bowl and allowing to sit for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Slice lemon pound cake and top with strawberries.

Notes:

  1. Simply delicious!
  2. This is a perfect dessert for a meal you are hosting because the cake can be made a day before.
  3. Sneaking a thin slice of the pound cake for breakfast is totally acceptable.
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Grilled Strawberry and Shrimp Skewers with Fennel Slaw

Its summer time and the livin’ is easy.  Time to pull out those quick and light recipes that are just good, good, good to have on hand.  Last weekend, while dog sitting for some friends, I took a few minutes to relax with their cookbooks.  You know when you see a recipe that is just off kilter enough that it has to be either a big hit or a major bomb?  That’s exactly what went through my mind when I saw this.  Strawberries on the grill?  Really?  Really!

Grilling the strawberries doesn’t do anything magnificent to enhance the flavor, but it softens the berries which is a great textural contrast with the shrimp and fennel.  And, its just a nice change of pace.  The vinaigrette is a total keeper with its balance of sweet and bitter.  I’ll be looking for more ways to use this little ditty.

Grilled Strawberry and Shrimp Skewers with Fennel Slaw

adapted from California Home Cooking by Michele Anna Jordan

Ingredients:

Skewers

10 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

20 to 30 prawns, at least 30U in size

2 baskets of strawberries, divided

1 cup Honey Pepper Vinaigrette  (recipe below)

1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced thin

1 TBS mint leaves, julienne

Vinaigrette

3 TBS rice vinegar

3 TBS balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup honey, warmed

1 shallot, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 TBS freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup olive oil

Directions:

1.  Prepare the vinaigrette by mixing the vinegars and honey in a bowl, then stirring in the shallots, garlic, pepper and salt.  Whisk in the olive oil slowly until incorporated.

2.  Prepare a hot fire on the grill.

3.  Thread each skewer with 3 prawns and 2 whole strawberries.  Brush lightly with vinaigrette  on each side and place them on the grill.  Turn the skewers after 2 minutes and bush again with the vinaigrette.  Continue cooking until the prawns are pink and no longer translucent on the inside, about 2 more minutes.

4.  Add the mint to the remaining vinaigrette.  Quickly toss together the remaining strawberries, sliced, and the fennel, along with 1 to 2 TBS of the vinaigrette.

5.  Serve the shrimp and strawberry skewers alongside the fennel and strawberry slaw.

Notes:

  • This vinaigrette on the shrimp was simply magnificent!
  • Not being the biggest fan of fennel, I think the next time Napa cabbage may be a good substitute for the fennel.  It does have to be something with some crunch and heft.  Butter lettuce would not hold its own in this dish.

Brentwood Strawberry Stands

There is nothing more glorious than the opening of the local strawberry stands!  It means Spring is officially showing up in the fields, our kitchens, and in our meals.  We are fortunate to have not one, not two, but three fantastic strawberry stands within a 5 mile radius.  These are each very low key, family run operations.  Nothing fancy at all.  Even calling the little buildings “stands” and not and “shacks” or more aptly named “lean to’s” is generous.  But oh, those strawberries are simply divine.  How far away are these strawberries shipped you ask.  Where is this fruit really grown?  Yeah, right out there behind the strawberry stand.  The field you are looking at right now.

The Stand on the Corner

Surely this business must have a name, but it isn’t clearly listed on their signs, so the locals just refer to it as “The Stand on the Corner.”  Everyone around here knows exactly what that means.  The fields are at the corner of Highway 4 and Byron Highway.  The family runs this stand along with another one on the east side of Stockton.   Watching their son grow up (he’s probably around 13 now) has been fun, and he’s been able to run the sales like a skilled businessman since 3rd grade or so.

Chan’s

Chan’s strawberry field and stand are over on Walnut Avenue.  As far as farm stands and U-Pick fruit, Walnut Avenue is like Main Street.  Fresh food is simple everywhere!  Chan’s does a great business with U-Pick strawberries and sights of families with young children in the fields are a sweet, common sighting.  As with all U-Pick outings, wear shoes that can handle a bit of dirt and mud.  Their farm stand sells their luscious berries along with onions harvested from the end of the strawberry rows and local asparagus.

Berry Best

Berry Best has been around for a few years, but is sure increasing their advertising with cute signs on all of the local roads.  They grow and harvest their strawberries right behind the strawberry stand.  Recently, I was talking with Rita, the matriarch of the business, about the lack of local strawberry vendors at the local farmers market.  Turns out she has applied to sell there for 3 years now, and was turned down each time.  Shameful!  I showed her one of the few local items from the market, Oaxacan cheese made by a family right in town.  She smiled and shared the memories of her grandmother making that very same type of cheese, pulling and pulling it into long strings, then rolling it into a ball.  Sure enough, when I sliced the cheese at home, that is exactly what was seen, long strings like Mozzarella rolled into a ball.  Lovely.

Three strawberry stands, each with the most fantastic sweet fruit you ever tasted, and all within five short miles from home.  Life is good!

The Strawberries are Here!

Chans strawberry flatsThe most beautiful red strawberries are now available!  Chan’s on Walnut Blvd has strawberries at their road side stand, or go right on into their field for a U-Pick hey day.  They also sell some lovely herbs and red onions that they grow at the end of each row of strawberries.Chans red onions

The stand at the corner of Highway 4 and J4 is also open.  Yahoo!  They must have a business name, but in these parts we simple call it “the strawberry stand on the corner.”  Clever, eh?  Last year they added a smallish garden with various veggies and some blackberry vines.  In less than a year, those vines have grown over 6 feet.  Oh, it is bees on berry blossomsgoing to be a berry good season!

Strawberry Fields Forever

winter strawberry fieldsOverall, this is a very quiet time of year in the fields. We have dirt, dirt growing various nutrients for feeding the crops this summer, and, well, more dirt. The one bright spot in the landscape is the strawberries.

The farmers have carefully tucked the plants in plastic sheets to keep those precious little roots warm. This means one late harvest in the Fall, and strong plants ready for the new season in the Spring. The anticipation just kills us all at this point of year when we are so, so, SO ready for fresh local foods!

In a related thought, Mrs L of Pages, Pucks and Pantry was recently reminicisng about New Year’s resolutions not quite kept. Last year, I was going to finally can / jar/ put up for winter, some of our amazing harvest. In the height of any season here, fruits and veggies are sold by the flat, just waiting for this experience. I wanted to, planned to do some canning for the first time in my life. But no. On reflection, I realize that I don’t really want to can / jar/ put up for the winter much of anything. What I REALLY want is to show up at someone’s house who actually knows how to do this and have the proper equipment, contribute a few flats of fruits or veggies and some new Mason jars, and simply take orders in their kitchen. For 2009, I’ve got this clarified version of the resolution on my list. Wish me luck!