Strawberries are prefect for entertaining and are also the perfect snack. When shopping for strawberries, select those that are firm, plump, have a bright, glossy-red appearance and are fragrant. Their fringed caps should be bright green and look fresh. Berries should be firm, but not crunchy. Avoid bruised or soft berries or those having a dull appearance.
Strawberries do not ripen after they are harvested, so select fruit that’s at the right state of maturity — when the berry surface is fully red. Cool berries as soon as possible and store them in the refrigerator until ready to use. It comes as no surprise that fresh strawberries are highly perishable. Use them as soon as possible after purchasing for the best flavor, appearance and nutrient content. Fresh strawberries should be eaten within three to four days of purchase. There are any number of recipes you can make with fresh strawberries. Below are just a few of them.
Easy Strawberry Parfaits
- 2 cups fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced
- 8 ounces whipped low-fat cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
- 6 amaretto cookies, crushed
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 4 sprigs fresh mint for garnish
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the whipped cream cheese, honey and lemon juice. Fold the yogurt into the cream cheese mixture.
In four wide-mouth glasses, evenly layer cream cheese mixture, strawberries and crushed amaretto cookies. Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint. Serve chilled.
Light As Air Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce
Makes about 10 pancakes
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup low-fat milk
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 2 egg whites
- 2 cups fresh strawberries
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
In a mixing bowl combine the flours, 1 tablespoon sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in milk and oil.
In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold egg whites into the flour mixture.
Grease a griddle and preheat it over medium heat.
For each pancake pour about 1/4 cup batter onto the hot griddle. Cook over medium heat until pancakes are golden brown (1 to 2 minutes per side); turn the pancakes over when bubbly and the edges are slightly dry.
In a blender container or food processor bowl combine the strawberries, 1 tablespoon sugar and vanilla. Cover and blend or process until smooth. In a small saucepan, heat the sauce until warm. Serve over the pancakes.
Spring Strawberry Salad
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 16 oz fresh strawberries, halved
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 bag fresh baby arugula (4–5 oz)
- 1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
- 1 tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup pistachio nuts, shelled and toasted
Microwave water on HIGH 30 seconds or until hot. Stir honey and salt into the water until dissolved; let stand 5 minutes to cool slightly.
Place in a medium bowl: the strawberries, thyme leaves, cider vinegar and sweetened water; toss to coat. Cover and chill 20 minutes (or up to 1 hour), stirring occasionally.
Place arugula in a salad bowl; top with the strawberry mixture, toasted pistachios and cheese. Toss well. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and serve.
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
- 1 pound strawberries, top trimmed
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
- Fresh mint leaves for garnish
- Optional toppings: mini chocolate chips, blueberries or nuts
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and lemon zest.
Use a small paring knife to quarter the strawberries from the pointed end almost to the flat top. Don’t cut all the way through
Use a small spoon to fill the space between the strawberry quarters with the mascarpone mixture.
Sprinkle with toppings, if desired. Refrigerate until serving time.
Garnish with fresh mint leaves and serve cold.
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ⅓ cup cold butter
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- ½ cup sour cream or plain yogurt
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 5 cups sliced fresh strawberries
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- Sweetened Whipped Cream, recipe below
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease an 8 x 1 1/2-inch round baking pan; set aside.
In a medium bowl combine the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. In a small bowl stir together the egg, sour cream and milk. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture all at once, stirring with a fork just until moistened.
Using a small offset metal spatula, spread dough evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean.
Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Using a small metal spatula, loosen the sides of the cake.
Place a wire rack on top of the pan; place one hand on top of rack and the other hand under the pan and carefully invert the pan with the rack. Lift the pan off shortcake. Cool on wire rack.
Combine 4 cups of the sliced strawberries and the 3 tablespoons sugar and, using a potato masher, mash the berries slightly; set aside.
Cut the shortcake in half horizontally. Spoon the sweetened strawberry mixture and the whipped cream over the shortcake bottom. Replace the shortcake top.
Spread the remaining 1 cup sliced strawberries over the top of the cake.
Sweetened Whipped Cream
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
In a chilled bowl combine the whipping cream, sugar and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form.
As a child, I remember my father taking me with him when he went shopping on a Saturday morning, in what was, “the little Italy” neighborhood in our city. We would visit the Italian deli for cold cuts, Sorrento’s Bakery for bread, Sacco & Sons for sausage and a quick lunch trip to Spirito’s for a slice of pizza. I didn’t mind the excursion during the warm months because my father always bought me a lemon ice from one of the push cart venders. The neighborhood that I remember is no longer there, but eating lemon ice or sorbetto or gelato is timeless. The recipes for frozen ices and other Italian treats will keep you cool in the coming months, but light enough so you do not have to worry about the calories.
Gelato (Italian Ice Cream) has a very low butterfat content, which makes the flavors more intense on the tongue. In addition, less air is introduced into the mixture before it is frozen, creating a much more dense dessert that adds a surprising richness to the flavor. Gelato may be made with or without eggs, cornstarch or cream in its base and, frequently, has other ingredients such as fresh fruit or coffee added for flavor. I prefer to make gelato without raw eggs yolks, so another thickener, such as cornstarch, is needed. There are numerous recipes around but the best recipe, I found for this version, is from Mark Bittman in The New York Times. It is easy, healthy and offers many flavor ideas but does not sacrifice taste.
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- Ice Cream Maker
Put 2 cups milk, the sugar and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. If using a vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise and scrape seeds into liquid, then add pod. Cook until mixture begins to steam.
In a bowl, blend cornstarch and remaining milk; there should be no lumps. Remove bean pod from pot and discard. Add cornstarch mixture to pot. Cook, stirring, until it starts to thicken and barely reaches a boil, about 5 minutes. Immediately reduce heat to very low and stir for 5 minutes or so until thick. Stir in vanilla extract, if using.
If mixture has lumps, strain it into a bowl. Chill for 2 hours. When cool or if there are no lumps, pour into an ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Yield: 1 generous pint.
- Honey-Jam Variation – Substitute honey for half the sugar. Add 1/2 cup good jam to mixture before freezing.
- Yogurt-Substitute yogurt for half the milk.
- Cherry-Vanilla-Add 1 cup halved, pitted cherries just before freezing.
- Strawberry, Blueberry or Peach-Add 1 cup hulled, sliced strawberries, blueberries, or peeled and chopped peaches before freezing.
- Coffee-Substitute 1/2 cup very strong coffee for 1/2 cup milk.
- Coconut-Substitute 1 cup coconut milk for 1 cup milk; add 1/2 cup toasted dried coconut.
- Mint Chocolate Chip-Add 1/2 cup minced mint and 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate just before freezing.
Fresh Strawberries With Limoncello
Limoncello has long been a staple in the lemon-producing region of the Italian Amalfi Coast, especially in Capri and Sorrento. Authentic Limoncello is made from Sorrento lemons that are grown in that region. Families in Italy have passed down recipes for generations, as every Italian family has their own Limoncello recipe.
When my son and daughter-in-law returned from a trip to Capri several years ago, they brought me back a bottle. Until that time, I had never heard of the product. I find it compliments many fruit desserts or adds another dimension to fruity drinks. Bottles of limoncello should be kept in the freezer until ready to serve.
- 20 whole large fresh strawberries, cut into halves
- 1 tablespoon limoncello
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- fresh ground pepper
Place cut strawberries in a bowl.
Pour over the liqueur, orange juice and sprinkle over with freshly ground pepper. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Serve as is or with biscotti.
Makes a perfect palate cleanser.
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/2 cup lemon juice, fresh
- 1/2 cup orange juice, fresh
- 4 tablespoons lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- Zest of 1 lime
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- Zest of 1/2 orange
Combine sugar and water in a small pot. Bring to a boil reduce and simmer just until the sugar is dissolved, let cool.
Stir together all the juices, zest and vanilla and add in the sugar syrup.
Chill syrup & juice blend in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.
You may serve the sorbetto right away or store it in the freezer.
Ricotta With Berries
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1/2 cup raspberries
- 10 strawberries, hulled and chopped ( or sliced)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 6 ounces skim ricotta cheese
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon Amaretto
- Garnish with mint leaves
Combine the berries with lemon juice and sugar. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Mix ricotta ingredients together. This may be done in a food processor, if a finer texture is desired.
Serve berries over a scoop of the ricotta and garnish with mint. Serving it in a martini or other decorative glass makes for a nice presentation.
Strawberry and Ricotta Crepes
The crepes can be prepared in advance and stored in the freezer, so that you can pull this dessert together quickly. This recipe also makes more crepes than you’ll need for the servings below. Allow the extra crepes to cool, place waxed paper between them, stack and place in a ziplock bag in the freezer.
Other fresh seasonal fruits can be used instead of strawberries.
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 ½ teaspoons powdered sugar
- 2 cups (about 10 ounces) cleaned and sliced fresh strawberries
- 2 teaspoons agave syrup
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh mint
- Small pinch of salt
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup nonfat milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons agave syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
Measure all crepe ingredients and place into a blender; blend for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides. Blend for 15 seconds more. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes. (This helps the flour absorb more of the liquids.)
Heat a crepe pan (or use a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet). Lightly grease the pan.
Measure about 1/4 cup batter into the pan. Tilt the pan to spread the batter. Once the crepe has lots of little bubbles, loosen the edges with a spatula and turn the crepe over. The second side cooks quickly, so after about 15 seconds, slide the crepe from the pan to a plate. Repeat with remaining batter (yield: about 20 crepes).
Mix ricotta with powdered sugar. Set aside.
Mix strawberries gently with sugar, mint and salt. Set aside.
If the crepes were prepared earlier in the day or frozen and defrosted overnight, reheat them in the microwave for a minute or two until warm.
Spread 1 tablespoon of ricotta mixture on one half of each of 8 warm crepes and fold to cover. Place two crepes on each serving plate.
Top with strawberries, dust with powdered sugar and serve.
Lemon Biscotti With Lemon Drizzle
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup pistachio nuts
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
- 1 tablespoon lemon extract
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- Cooking spray
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl.
Combine zest, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, lemon extract, oil and eggs. Add to the flour mixture, stirring until well-blended.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly 7 to 8 times. Divide dough in half. Shape each portion into an 8-inch-long roll.
Place rolls 6 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; flatten each roll to 1-inch thickness. Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the rolls from the baking sheet; cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Cut each roll diagonally into 15 (1/2-inch) slices.
Place the slices, cut sides down, on the baking sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F; bake for 10 minutes.
Turn cookies over; bake an additional 10 minutes (the cookies will be slightly soft in center but will harden as they cool).
Remove from baking sheet and cool completely on wire rack.
Combine 1 tablespoon lemon juice and powdered sugar; drizzle over the biscotti.
If you’re making enough to freeze, store them in the freezer without the drizzle, then make it just before serving.
Tangerine and Prosecco Sorbet
“Italian Champagne” – Prosecco is a sparkling wine made from late-ripening white grapes from the Veneto – Conegliano – Valdobbiadene region of Italy.
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 cups chilled tangerine juice or tangerine orange juice
- 1 cup chilled Prosecco
- 1 tablespoon finely grated tangerine peel
Combine sugar and water in small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to boil.
Transfer syrup to medium bowl and chill until cold, about 2 hours.
Add tangerine juice and Prosecco to syrup; whisk to blend well. Transfer mixture to an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Transfer sorbet to a freezer container. Cover tightly with a lid and freeze until firm, at least 8 hours or overnight.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep frozen. Divide sorbet among wine goblets or dessert glasses.
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