Recipe Swap: Take advantage of strawberry season

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Our son Ross has turned 16 years old. This birthday brings many changes to our family routine and the reduction of my time as a mom taxi driver. I look up at him and wonder where my little boy went. One thing is for sure, we can always count on having strawberries at his birthday gathering. Usually they are at the peak of the season for his birthday. So today I am sharing several strawberry recipes for you to try and enjoy. Get them while they are fresh and at their best.

Strawberry Marshmallows

2 envelopes gelatin (or 8 sheets)

1/3 cup strawberry puree

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

Potato starch

Powdered sugar

Line an 8-by-8 pan with parchment paper. Coat this with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Fit a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. In the mixing bowl, combine the puree with vanilla extract. Sprinkle with the gelatin and allow to bloom (soften). In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, salt, corn syrup and water. Bring to a boil with the lid on and without stirring. When it is at a boil, remove lid and continue to cook without stirring until it reaches the soft-ball stage, 234 to 240 degrees. With the mixer at medium speed, pour all of the hot syrup slowly down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture, being very careful not to burn your skin. Use a splash guard if you have one. When all the syrup is added, bring the mixture up to full speed and whip until mixture is fluffy and stiff about 8 to 10 minutes. Pour marshmallow into the parchment lined pan and smooth with an oiled offset spatula if necessary. Allow to sit, uncovered at room temperature for 10 to 12 hours. Mix equal parts potato starch and powdered sugar and sift over the rested marshmallows. Turn slab onto a cutting board, peel off paper and dust with more of the powder mixture. Cut as desired and dredge again in the powder mixture, and shake off excess powder. For red colored swirls, use gel food coloring and a toothpick and swirl it in the freshly poured marshmallows.

Fruity Nachos

4 corn tortillas (6 inches each), cut into quarters

4 tablespoons cream cheese (about half of an 8-ounce package)

At least 1/2 cup thinly sliced nectarines, apples, strawberries or grapes, alone or combination of all

Juice of 1/2 lime

1/4 teaspoon pequin quebrado or crushed red chili peppers

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Place the tortillas in a single layer on a baking sheet, then place a smaller baking sheet on top of them (this keeps them flat as they bake). Place the tortillas in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Then remove the smaller baking sheet and continue to bake the tortillas until they are crisp, 5 to 8 minutes more. Spread the cream cheese evenly over the tortilla chips, and arrange the chips on a serving platter. Combine the fruit of your choice, lime juice and pequin quebrado in a bowl, and toss to mix. Then arrange the fruit on top of the cream cheese in an artistic fashion. Serve immediately.

Fabulous Strawberry Muffins

Firm fresh strawberries work best in this recipe, but when the season is over substitute blueberries, cherries or chopped peaches.

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1/3 cup melted butter

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped

More sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or line muffin cups with paper cupcake liners. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt, stir well until all ingredients are well blended. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, eggs and vanilla. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour liquid mixture in and the strawberries. Using a large spoon, gently fold ingredients just until moist. Do not overmix. Small dry lumps are fine, just do not overmix, as this will cause "peaking" on your muffin tops. Spoon the batter evenly into 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin with about 1/2 teaspoon sugar, if desired. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

Strawberry and Spinach Salad

The bright green of the spinach and contrasting red of the strawberries is beautiful and the flavors are excellent together.

1 pint fresh strawberries

2 bunches fresh spinach, or 2 bags of fresh pre-washed baby spinach

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons minced green onion

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup balsamic or cider vinegar

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Wash strawberries under cool running water. Remove caps and set aside to drain. Wash spinach and remove large tough stems. Tear large leaves into small pieces. Drain. In a medium bowl combine remaining ingredients and whisk together. Slice strawberries into halves or quarters and place in a large bowl. Add dry spinach. Pour dressing over all and toss. Makes 8 servings.

Strawberry Salsa

1 cup coarsely chopped strawberries

1 tablespoon orange juice

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

1 green onion, finely chopped, top included

1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

2 tablespoons dried currants

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Chill. Serve with grilled chicken or fish. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Have a wonderful week and until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at news@semissourian.com or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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