Posts tagged berries

Farmers’ Market Find: Strawberries and Rhubarb

icecream

I know I’ve been absent from the blog lately, but it’s not entirely my fault. I blame last week’s never-ending rain for dampening my blogging enthusiasm. Luckily the sun finally emerged from behind the soggy clouds this weekend, and with one trip to the Park Slope farmers’ market, my excitement for spring—and cooking—returned in full force.

I wandered through the market on Saturday morning, canvas bag in hand, trying to decide what to buy. Piles of bright green spinach and asparagus beckoned from the fruit and vegetable stands. Long lines formed in front of the meat and fishmongers, while small children begged their parents to buy them breakfast pastries. I restrained myself from buying a bouquet of fresh wild flowers, and instead came home with a quart of strawberries and several stalks of rhubarb.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a plan for these seasonal wonder twins. It was time to banish those rainy days with the powerful duo of sweet, red strawberries and tart rhubarb. It was time for ice cream.

Making ice cream has turned into a new hobby for Jim and me. Actually, my husband has turned out to be quite the ice cream master. We joined forces on Valentine’s Day to make a lush blood orange sorbet, but in the past month Jim has experimented with French vanilla and fresh plum ice creams, all on his own. With his guidance on Saturday I churned out my pink-hued treat, asking him for advice on warming the milk and how many egg yolks were needed.

When we finally scooped the finished ice cream from the bowl, small flecks of red strawberries glowed against the frozen mixture of milk, cream, eggs, and rhubarb. A perfect mix of vibrantly sweet berries and tart, electric rhubarb, each creamy bite awakened my weary winter palate. The addition of crystallized ginger added a tingly current of heat to this cold dessert, further preparing me for the fresh flavors we have yet to enjoy this spring. What a way to celebrate the season. And just think, it only gets better from here.

Recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream (adapted from the blog Very Good Things)

  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups finely chopped strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the rhubarb and water to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until rhubarb is very soft. Pulse it through a food processor and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until bright yellow and blended. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, bring the milk and cream to a simmer. Do not scald the milk and cream. Gradually whisk the milk and cream mixture into the egg mixture.

Return the entire mixture to the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is very thick. Do not let it boil. Strain it into a large bowl. Cool to room temperature.

Stir in the cooked rhubarb, strawberries, and ginger. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. I used my KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment, and I think I should have churned the ice cream in 2 separate batches. The amount of ice cream mixture was slightly too much to be churned in one batch. Anyway, this recipe serves 8. Enjoy!

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The Tart That Changed Everything

blueberrytart

A few months ago I made a firm and definitive statement on this blog: I don’t like yogurt. I told you how throughout my entire life I had attempted to make my peace with this sour dairy product by mixing it with granola or fruit, but to no avail. I simply hated it.

Well, today I am here to openly recant my anti-yogurt diatribe. I’d bow my head in shame except I’m so happy about my recent conversion I can’t hide it. And it’s all because last weekend I made Food & Wine’s glorious Honeyed Yogurt and Blueberry Tart. A smooth sea of honey-enhanced yogurt nestled in an electrically spicy graham cracker crust and dotted with plump, fresh berries has finally vanquished my yogurt-related negativity.

You may be asking why I would even attempt to make Food & Wine’s tart, given my professed aversion to the contents of its cool and creamy center. Honestly, I made this dessert because the recipe looked easy. All it requires is a quick whir of graham crackers, candied ginger, salt, sugar, and one egg white in the food processor. After being shaped into a tart pan, the crust is baked for a mere 20 minutes. (Actually, next time I think I will bake the crust for a few minutes less, as it was slightly overcooked and too crisp after 20 minutes.) The whole process takes less than half an hour and the crust can even be prepared the day before you plan to serve the dessert.

After mixing a few tablespoons of honey into the yogurt, spread the mixture into the cooled baked shell and top it with the blueberries. The slightly sweetened yet still tangy yogurt is perfectly complemented by the ginger-spiced crust and fresh berries. As I cautiously tasted my first bite, for once I was not overwhelmed by the sour flavors I usually associate with yogurt. It may have been the addition of honey that made the difference, or perhaps it was the powerful crust. Whatever the reason, I can’t wait to make it again when blueberries are actually in season. Try this tart. I promise, it will change everything.

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Back to the ‘Burgh: Pots and Berries

We just got back from an adventurous (and sweltering) weekend in Pittsburgh, where we spent a few days visiting with Jim’s parents. As always, we had a fantastic time eating and drinking our way through Steeler Nation, and on Saturday morning we hopped in the car for a food-related tour that I’m still recovering from.

We started by driving to the All-Clad warehouse sale at the Washington Fairgrounds. If you’re as obsessed with cookware as I am, and you find yourself in Western Pennsylvania during this twice yearly “seconds” sale, you definitely need to stop by. With a little patience you can find great bargains on this brand’s pricey cookware and kitchen tools in near-perfect condition. Anyway, after an hour of pans, people, and heat, we returned to the car (with 2 pots!) and surrendered ourselves to the air conditioning.

Next came a restorative lunch of lobster bisque and a Reuben sandwich at the very pretty Back Porch restaurant in Speers, followed by a trip to Sand Hill Berries. As you can tell from the name, this small, family-owned fruit farm in Mount Pleasant is known for its berries: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries and more. They are also famous for their fruit pies and jams, all made on site at the farm in small batches.

Having wandered through a sea of people and stainless steel at the All-Clad sale, it was a relief to relax in the serenity of Sand Hill. We tasted some very sweet grape and berry based wines at their new Greendance winery, and then sat outside on the terrace to enjoy live music and fresh baked goods from their café. The strawberry shortcake I ordered was covered with fresh strawberries, vanilla ice cream, and whipped cream, a cool mass of summertime goodness in the 95 degree heat. Jim’s vanilla ice cream topped with raspberry sauce was also refreshing, and his parents shared a piece of blackberry pie made with the farm’s frozen berry stock.

After working our way through the sweets, we decided to call it a day and head home, where I took a nap on the couch. The combination of pots, berries, and heat had that affect on me. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for a great weekend!

The All-Clad sale takes place at the Washington County Fairgrounds: 2151 North Main Street, Washington, PA, 15301. The sale happens twice a year, usually in December and June. It is not advertised on All-Clad’s website, but I found out about it here.

The Back Porch Restaurant, 114 Speers Street, Belle Vernon, PA 15012 T: 724-483-4500

Sand Hill Berries, 304 Deer Field Road, Mount Pleasant, PA 15666 T: 724-547-4760. Greendance Winery is located on the same property.

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