Strawberry season has arrived and a great way to jump right in and enjoy them after a long winter hiatus is by buying them in bulk at the farmers market. A half a flat (6 baskets) is $15 which is far below grocery store prices.
A half a flat of strawberries (one basket swapped for raspberries)
You’ll make a dent in the bounty by grazing on them at their freshest. But by the end of the day, it’s best to store them in the refrigerator. Do not wash them before storing. Layer the bottom of an airtight container with a paper towel, put a layer of strawberries on top and alternate paper towels and strawberry layers ending with paper towel. Put the top on and they’ll last for at least a few days in the refrigerator.
If you want to save some for smoothies, spread them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and put it in the freezer for about an hour which will prevent them from sticking together when transferred to a ziplock bag.
But before they’re put away, try this family favorite recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I plan to post a new berry recipe weekly during the season. Any great ones to share? You can forward suggestions via email.
Strawberry Vanilla Cake
After preparing the batter…
Dry on a towel
…and measure the strawberries. If you don’t have a scale, a pound is an overflowing basket as above.
Put berries on top of batter and sprinkle with sugar
Bake for close to an hour
Slice and serve
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pie plate
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (or use brown sugar for topping)
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Butter a 9 or 10-inch pie pan
- Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.
- In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes.
- Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined.
- Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.
- Pour into prepared pie plate.
- Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer.
- Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons white or brown sugar over berries.
- Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes.
- Let cool in pan on a rack. Cut into wedges.
Optional: Serve with lightly whipped cream.
Do ahead: Cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days, loosely covered.
Source – Smitten Kitchen
Kale Brussels Sprouts Salad
It used to be that getting together for dinner with friends was not only a welcomed opportunity to catch up but just as much a dash to escape the dinnertime madness at home. More recently though, we’ve returned to the house. Conversation is easier, we have more flexibility and the kids are otherwise busy doing sports or homework. Also, we’ve found that the food tends to be top-notch as everyone puts their best effort into one stellar dish. Frequently at nights’ end, we come home with an adopted recipe as is the case with this kale salad.
Kale can be a bit tough and does not stand alone too well. I know there’s a lot of infatuation with it these days, but until being introduced to this salad, I was more apt to use it in a soup or saute where it blends right in or to enjoy it in chip form. And brussels sprouts stir some controversy. They were clearly known to be my Dad’s least favorite food so that had a bit of an influence on me. It wasn’t until bacon came on the scene as a mix-in that I decided to give them a try. Now they’re frequently in the rotation.
Had I seen this kale/brussels sprouts combo in a magazine or cookbook, I likely would have flipped right by it. Don’t do it. It’s so good. The texture of the leaves and sprouts combined with the crunch of the nuts and flavor of the dressing make it a true winner. It’s easy to prepare and can withstand being tossed in advance unlike many salads that quickly go to soggy.
Let me know what you think!
Prepare the dressing.
Lightly toast chopped nuts in a frying pan.
Cut out the center vein of the kale.
Shred brussels sprouts by quartering lengthwise and then slicing across.
Prep and Cook Time: 20 mins | Servings: 4-6
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons minced shallot
- 1 small garlic clove, finely diced
- Pinch of kosher salt plus more for seasoning
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large bunch of Tuscan kale (about 3/4 of a pound total), center stem discarded, leaves thinly sliced
- 6 ounces brussels sprouts (approx. 5 large/8 small), trimmed, finely grated or sliced with a knife
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup almonds with skins, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino
NOTE for Advanced Preparation: Dressing, kale mixture and toasted almonds can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover dressing and kale mixture separately and chill. Cover almonds and let stand at room temperature.
- For dressing, combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, salt and a pinch of pepper in a measuring cup or small bowl.
- Whisk to blend; set aside to let flavors meld.
- Measure 1/4 cup oil in measuring cup.
- Spoon 2 teaspoons of oil from the cup into a small skillet; heat over medium-high heat.
- Add chopped almonds to the skillet and stir frequently until golden brown in spots, about a minute.
- Transfer nuts to a paper towel–lined plate. Sprinkle almonds lightly with salt.
- Mix thinly sliced kale and shredded brussels sprouts in a large bowl.
- Slowly whisk remaining olive oil in cup into lemon-juice mixture.
- Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add dressing and cheese to kale mixture; toss to coat.
- Season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Toss with almonds.
Recipe adapted from Epicurious
It’s been really warm around here which makes cooking dinner a bit of a chore. Grilling is one easy option. Another is salad which to me seems more like a clean, crunchy accompaniment to dinner, not the whole thing. Or a choice if you’re on a diet. Maybe that’s because I have a traditional sense that dinner should be hot, even in mild weather.
But a while back I discovered the concept of mixing the hot ingredients with the cold. Then you’ve got a worthy meal. And here’s one of my current favorites. Yes, you need to spend a bit of time at the stove, but you can prepare the chicken in advance, even just to get it prepped to be cooked. Overall, this salad-meal comes together pretty quickly, and the flavor is great. The smell of the ham/bacon cooking with the onion will get you through the brief discomfort of being next to a stove on a summer-like night. Serve it with some crusty bread and it will satisfy most appetites.
Wash and trim green beans.
Brush the chicken with olive oil.
Season with salt and pepper and place one or two sage leaves on the first side to be cooked.
This salt is a great flavor enhancer.
Add cooked green beans and chicken to the sautéed bacon and onion.
Wash and spin your favorite lettuce.
Meld the warm ingredients with the crispy cold lettuce.
And you’ve got a meal!
Prep and Cook Time: 20 mins | Servings: 4-6
- Green Beans, 8 ounces trimmed
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing
- Kosher salt and ground pepper
- Sage leaves, approx. 2 per side of chicken breast depending on size of leaf
- 8 ounces dry-cured ham, taylor ham or bacon (finely chopped)
- 1 red onion, sliced (any type of onion will work)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
- 1 lettuce head
- Steam green beans until al dente, 3 to 4 minutes; drain.
- Slice chicken breast halves in half horizontally; pound lightly between wax paper or plastic wrap to an even thickness.
- Rub chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Top one side with 1-2 sage leaves.
- Cook, sage side down, in a skillet over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. While it cooks, top the other side with 1-2 sage leaves.
- Flip chicken and heat until cooked through, about 3 more minutes.
- Transfer to a plate.
- Heat tablespoon of oil in skillet over medium heat.
- Cook taylor ham or bacon for 1 minute.
- Add red onion; cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in red-wine vinegar and 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Shred or cut chicken.
- Add chicken, juices from plate and green beans to pan. Stir ingredients together.
- Toss with lettuce.
Adapted from Martha Stewart Recipe
This is a favorite weeknight meal with a number of variations. One of the main flavor determinants is the sausage. I like the Chicken Tuscan Sausage from Woodlands Market in Kentfield, but any handmade chicken, pork or beef sausage works.
In the winter, or if you don’t have access to fresh tomatoes, you can substitute a 28-ounce can of whole San Marzanos, crushed by hand. In the spring, hot-house tomatoes are available at the Farmers Market. And in summer and early fall, there is a wide variety in all shapes and sizes.
This recipe turns out a little bit differently every time but is always full of flavor. Great leftovers for lunch too.
Start by prepping the tomatoes.
Cut and X in the bottom before submerging in boiled water for 1 minute.
Skin is then easy to remove
Cut tomatoes in quarters and then
chop to small dice.
Saute the onions and add the sausage
Pile spinach on top of sauce and watch it diminish.
stir until wilted, about 2 minutes.
Then add the spinach and tomatoes
Serve with your preferred pasta or over quinoa
Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cooking Time: 20 minutes | Serves: 4-5
- 12 ounces dried orecchiette pasta, or other preferred variety or cooked quinoa
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion (medium or 1/2 large), peeled and chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon hot chili flakes
- 3-4 chicken sausages (or other preferred variety), removed from casings and crumbled
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 6-8 ripe tomatoes, rinsed, cored and chopped (see process above)
- 8 ounces baby spinach leaves (about 3 packed cups), rinsed
- 4 ounces ricotta salata cheese or 2 ounces of feta, thinly sliced or crumbled
- Prepare pasta or quinoa according to package instructions.
- Meanwhile, in a 12-inch frying pan, cast iron skillet or a 4- to 5-quart pan over medium-high flame, heat pan for 30 seconds and then olive oil for 30 seconds.
- Add onion and stir often until lightly browned around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Lower heat to medium and add chili flakes and crumbled chicken sausages.
- Stir with a wooden spoon, breaking up sausage, until meat is beginning to brown, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add garlic and continuously stir to blend with other ingredients, about 30 seconds.
- Add tomatoes and spinach
- Stir until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.
- Add sauce to pasta to coat or put on top of quinoa
- Top with ricotta salata.
Adapted from recipe from Sunset Magazine
Hot House Tomatoes
Seasonal change is creating excitement at the farmers market. It was packed today. A pleasant surprise was the arrival of summer squash. And big leafy bunches of basil. And even tomatoes. One farm produces a great variety from the hot house and provides an early taste of summer every year. Unfortunately, only the seconds were left at the late hour we arrived, but this sauté recipe showcases their great flavor.
Cut zucchini in half crosswise and in quarters lengthwise
Flavor olive oil by adding crushed whole garlic. Remove when fragrant, about 1 minute.
Saute zucchini in oil for five minutes.
Add tomatoes and basil and saute another minute until warm and flavors blend.
Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cooking Time: 10 minutes | Serves: 4
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1-2 large clove garlic, smashed
- 4-5 summer squash/zucchini, cut into strips
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
- 6-8 basil leaves, julienned
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the oil and garlic.
- To flavor the oil, saute for 1 minute or less until garlic is fragrant.
- Remove and discard the garlic.
- Increase the heat to high and add the squash.
- Saute, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and basil and cook until warmed, about 1 minute more.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Recipe adapted from the Food Network