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Market Fresh: Strawberry time

 

Anne Freeze

 

While the Suzuki Strings played in the background, I wandered around the Hitching Lot Farmers' Market in Columbus Saturday and bought some tomatoes and strawberries. We are still betwixt and between seasons, but what could be better than tomatoes and strawberries?  

 

And we should have strawberries for a little longer than usual. Vendors M.C. Ellis has them now and Benny Yarbrough says he will start picking for this Saturday.  

 

Let me review a few key things about strawberries: Do not wash them before refrigerating; clean them as you use them. Keep them in the bin or drawer in the refrigerator, which has increased humidity and lower air circulation. And, for the health-conscious, strawberries are high, very high, in vitamin C and high in manganese and fiber. 

 

Of course, eating raw, fresh strawberries is the easiest and freshest way to go, but, let's talk recipes. The first is from Ronni Lundy. In 2009 she was the recipient of the Southern Foodways Alliance Craig Claiborne Lifetime Achievement Award. She has also been nominated for two James Beard awards for her writing. The second recipe is from Hugh Acheson of Athens, Georgia. A Canadian by birth, Hugh came to Athens over a decade ago and now has restaurants in Athens and Atlanta. Do not be intimidated by this two-time James Beard Foundation award winner, the recipe is deceptively simple. 

 

Anne Freeze enjoys good food and loves to cook. She was a restaurant general manager and owner of a gourmet food store before moving to Columbus. She can be reached at anniefreeze@me.com. 

 

 

 

STRAWBERRY ROMANOFF ICEBOX TARTS  

 

Makes 6 servings 

 

 

 

For the crust: 

 

Vanilla wafers to make 3/4 cup of fine crumbs (about 18) 

 

1/8 cup blanched almond pieces 

 

1/8 cup sugar 

 

2 tablespoons salted butter, melted 

 

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. 

     

  • Arrange six 1-cup custard cups on a baking sheet. 

     

  • Using blender or food processor, pulse vanilla wavers and almonds on high to make fine crumbs. Transfer them to a bowl and mix in the sugar. Drizzle the butter over the crumbs and mix until all the crumbs are moistened. Place 2 heaping tablespoons in each custard cup and press gently but firmly with your fingers to evenly cover the bottom of the cup. Bake five minutes. Cool completely before filling. 

     

     

     

    For the filling: 

     

    12 large, ripe strawberries 

     

    1 lime 

     

    14 ounces fat-free sweetened condensed milk 

     

    1 cup sour cream 

     

     

     

  • Rinse strawberries and set aside six perfect ones. Remove the cap from the remaining six and puree in a blender to have at least 1/2 cup of liquid. Zest the lime and then extract the juice.  

     

  • In a large mixing bowl mix the condensed milk, strawberry puree, lime juice and lime zest until blended. Fold in sour cream. Spoon the mixture into the custard cups and place a strawberry on top of each. Cover securely with plastic wrap and chill for two hours. 

     

    (Source: "Butterbeans to Blackberries: Recipes from the Southern Garden," by Ronnie Lundy) 

     

     

     

    SAUTEED STRAWBERRIES WITH BLACK PEPPER 

     

    Makes 4 servings  

     

     

     

    2 tablespoons unsalted butter 

     

    2 pints strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered 

     

    1 teaspoon granulated sugar 

     

    1/2 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns 

     

    1 shot Cointreau (brand of triple sec) 

     

    Fresh mint cut into chiffonnade (finely cut into long thin strips), for garnish 

     

     

     

  • Warm a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Once warm, add the butter and melt until it starts to froth and bubble.  

     

  • Raise heat to medium-high. Add strawberries and saute for about two minutes. Add the sugar and pepper and then deglaze with the Cointreau. You want the Cointreau to flame to create a syrup. 

     

  • Remove from the heat and toss the mint into the strawberries. 

     

  • Serve over a scoop of vanilla or vanilla bean ice cream while sauce is still warm.  

     

    (Source: "A New Turn in the South," by Hugh Acheson)

     

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