Results tagged strawberries from David Lebovitz

Rhubarb-Strawberry Jam Recipe

strawberries

Do you know what media training is? If you don’t, it’s when they teach people to behave on television and radio. They work with politicians, business executives, and, of course, in this day and age, they work with a lot people (and I mean, a lot…) that are involved in corporate and celebrity crisis control. But there’s a special group of media trainers that teach you how to cook on television, which is trickier than just sitting there getting grilled by Stephen Colbert, I’m sure of that.

Cooking on tv is much harder, because instead of just sitting there having a casual chat, you need to be fielding all sorts of goofy questions at the same time as measuring out and explaining fourteen different ingredients to the weatherman, wondering where that damn spatula is and how you’re going to fold egg whites without one, cursing yourself because you forgot to turn off your cell which is vibrating like mad in your back pocket, trying to get the name of the book you’re supposed to be promoting into the conversation when the seriously-skinny host only wants to talk about her diet, and watching out of the corner of your eye because the camera crew is impatiently waiting for you to finish so they can pounce on your brownies.

About ten years ago I had media training, a one-on-one weekend where it was just me and the media trainer—who basically yelled at me for 48 hours, non-stop.

In fact, I think he blew out my left eardrum.

Continue Reading Rhubarb-Strawberry Jam Recipe…

Rhubarb Tart FAIL

rhubarb tart

I hadn’t planned on buying rhubarb yesterday morning, but I was at the stand of my favorite producteur and there it was, and there I was, so our collective fate was sealed.

As I waited for him to wrap my stalks tightly in brown paper, my mind raced to think what I would do with them. By the time I handed over a couple of euros, I’d made up my mind that they’d make a fine filling for the baked tart shell I had waiting at home, with a thin layer of lemony pastry cream.

It’s been odd around here lately. I think there’s something in the air; le morosité of Paris, as they call it, the general malaise that smacks the city in a collective wallop, like the tiny, sharp grains of pollen that are wreaking havoc on the sinuses of us all. Yes, it’s warmed up and the city is even more beautiful, but a string of May holidays has Parisians bolting for the borders, heading away for le petit weekend any chance they can. There’s just something odd in the city that I can’t quite put my finger on.

Continue Reading Rhubarb Tart FAIL…

Goat Cheese Custard Recipe with Strawberries in Red Wine Syrup

When I moved to Paris, I moved a whole ton of stuff with me. Plus one yellowed scrap of paper. It was a recipe that I tore out of some newspaper eons ago, for Goat Cheese Custard.

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I had high hopes for the recipe, enough to schlep it with me across the Atlantic and look at it wistfully every once in a while, guarding it for almost a decade, until I finally got around to making it this week.

Continue Reading Goat Cheese Custard Recipe with Strawberries in Red Wine Syrup…

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Recipe

strawberries

At the markets during the spring and summer here in Paris, there are piles and mounds of strawberries. The sweet, fruity scent pervades the air as you get closer to the stands. I always come home with a kilo (2 pounds), which costs about 3 euros (about $3.50) and I eat as many as I can during their season. Some people swoon for the pale gariguette berries, which are slender and pointed, although I’ve tried them several times and don’t find them much better than the everyday Chandler variety that’s normally available.

While at the market this week, being such a good customer, I got a deal on a large flat of strawberries so after much jam-making, I decided to take my ice cream maker out for a spin and whip up a batch of Strawberry Frozen Yogurt.

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Unlike the stuff at the mall, real frozen yogurt is made from plain, whole-milk yogurt, fresh fruits, and some sweetener. Although some people like to drain their yogurt first for a richer end-result, I prefer the lighter style of frozen yogurt. You can use Greek-style yogurt, which is three times richer than whole milk yogurt. Slicing the berries and tossing them in sugar makes the strawberries bright red in color and can make ho-hum berries quite delicious.

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Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
About 1 quart (1l)

French yogurt is astoundingly good and I suggest you use a good-quality, whole milk or Greek-style yogurt for best results.

  • 1 pound (450g) strawberries, rinsed and hulled
  • 2/3 cup (130g) sugar
  • optional: 2 teaspoons vodka or kirsch
  • 1 cup (240g) plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Slice the strawberries into small pieces. Toss in a bowl with the sugar and vodka or kirsch (if using) until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, stirring every so often.

Transfer the strawberries and their juice to a blender or food processor. Add the yogurt and fresh lemon juice. Pulse the machine until the mixture is smooth. If you wish, press mixture through a mesh strainer to remove any seeds.

Chill for 1 hour, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Continue Reading Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Recipe…

Brittany’s Butter Bonanza

Of all the regions in France, one of the most peculiar is Brittany. The cuisine is hearty, earthy, and dynamic…like the terrain…

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The coastline is a virtual lunar landscape of jutting rock formations, with pristine beaches tucked in between. Consequently, upper Brittany is somewhat remote and not a popular tourist destination. Most of my days began at a almost-deserted beach with a dip in a frigid, clear water, and finished at a lively crêperie, picking through a mound of moules frites, steaming-hot mussels simmered with white wine and local shallots, served with a overly-generous pile of frites that I thought I’d never be able to finish. (But of course, I always did…mustn’t be rude.)

Ah, summer vacation in Brittany. There’s not much to do here except swim in the chilly water, and eat seafood, red onions (more about them in a later post), and…the delicious salted butter.

Unlike the rest of France, the Bretons don’t eat much cheese…in fact, there’s no local cheeses that I can think of that are produced there and I didn’t see one fromagerie in ten days. But they make up for it by offering up lots of butter, which they’re justifiably famous for. When you compliment a local pastry shop or restaurant on their cuisine, they will invariably respond proudly, “C’est la buerre de Bretagne!

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There’s also not so much wine wine consumed either, since the locals drink plenty of sparkling, lightly-alcoholic apple cider. A fizzy bottle is popped open before each meal and served in a traditional bolées, similar to a squat coffee cup with a handle.

But back the butter—it’s the best I’ve ever tasted. Breton butter is notable since it’s almost always flecked with large, coarse grains of salt that crunch when you bite into them. I spread some on my toast each morning before drizzling it with bitter chestnut honey. Much of the salt used is harvested on ponds and marshes in the Guérande, where the famed fleur de sel is harvested as well. And unlike the rest of the country, Bretons often butter their bread, which is never done elsewhere in France except with oysters, which are customarily served with buttered rye bread, pain de seigle. (So next time you’re in Paris and that waiter gives you a disapproving sneer when you ask for butter, tell him you’re from Brittany.)

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Naturally much of this butter makes its way into buckwheat crêpes, or galettes de blé noir (when made with buckwheat flour, or blé noir, they’re normally called galettes rather than crêpes. You can buy crêpes at most of the local pastry shops, and if you’re lucky, they’re still warm.

One night I picked up a stack and for simple dessert, I heated a bottle of hard apple cider in a skillet, added a handful of unrefined cassonade sugar, a modest knob of Breton salted butter and some delicious prunes from Gascony. Once the cider was sweet and syrupy, I added some folded crêpes, a pour of Calvados, and voila!

Perhaps the most famous dessert of the region is the Far Breton. Far is the Breton word for ‘custard’, and the Far Breton is remarkably similar to a custard tart sans the crust. Like everything, there are good versions, and not-so-good versions (like pretzels on the streets of Manhattan). You’ll find Far Breton everywhere in Brittany; in supermarkets, outdoor markets, restaurants, and pastry shops. Like flan in Paris (which is a wedge of custard tart, and not the inverted caramel custard that many of us are used to,) a slab of Far Breton with prunes is often a mid-afternoons snack, or le goûter for hungry folks.

Although I find most of them rather dense and heavy, I knew that if I tried as many as possible like Goldilock’s, I would certainaly find the version that was “just right”. And sure enough, the best was from a pastry shop in Lesnevin called Labbé, a few steps off the main square.

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(If you’re looking for a recipe, you might want to try the one by Dorie Greenspan that appeared in Bon Appétit recently.)


Another extraordinary treat is the Kouign amann, which is pronounced (and spelled) a few different ways, depending on your accent. I learned to say it by rhyming Kouign with the word schwing!, from Wayne’s World…which I’ve tried to explain with a sharp thrust of my hips to French people but it doesn’t seem to translate very well, and people were looking at me funny, so I gave up.

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A friend who visited Brittany once wrote me and said, “A stick of butter would seem light in comparison!..” when describing his first encounter withKouign amann. And indeed, the word amann is the Breton word for butter.

I had to try one from several bakeries, since it’s one of my favorite desserts: layers of flaky pastry baked with plenty of salted butter and sugar, until it’s all dark, crisp, and caramelized? Bring it on. Sometimes they’ll sell it by the slab at outdoor markets, and they slice off a hunk for you and sell it by the kilo. But the best thing I ate all week was…

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Ok, I know what you’re thinking. Here I was surrounded by fabulous buttery creations, but then I discovered strawberries from Plougastel. But honestly, these were the best strawberries I’ve ever had. Although usually I judge fruit based on it’s aroma before I buy (and these had little smell), these looked so ruby-red and glistening, that I just had to try them. Each one was sweet-sweet-sweet! Each was juicy with flavor, like a soft piece of sweet strawberry candy and deep red all the way through. I’ve never had strawberries like that before, although I’ve seen them in the markets in Paris, they never looked so appealing as they did at that village fruit market in Brittany.



Related Links and Posts

Alledgedly the Birthplace of Kouign Amann

Le Bateau en chocolat (Georges Larnicol launches a chocolate boat, video)

Kouign Amann Recipe

A Great Kouign Amann in Paris

Kig ha farz

Larnicol: Kouign Amann in Paris

How to Select Summer Fruits

Apricots

I’m in heaven with all the sensational fruits that explode at the markets every summer. Each shopping trip, I invariably lug back with way too much fruit. But everything looks so good I can’t resist; rosy nectarines, blushing apricots, and crisp, dark cherries.

So to help you choose the best summer fruits, here’s some shopping tips. Best bets are often at Farmer’s Markets, where the growers take primo care of what they’re selling and often they encourage sampling before you buy.

sour cherries

Cherries

The most popular sweet cherry varieties are deep-dark red and plump, with moist, perky stems. Bing cherries are reliably excellent. Although some varieties, like Queen Anne and Rainier, are light red and yellow-colored, they have a more delicate taste, which some people prefer. Cherries should be washed, then stored in the refrigerator. Unlike most other fruits, cherries are more appealing when served very cold and crisp.

Avoid cherries that are wrinkled, which means they were picked a while ago. Split apart cherries means they got wet while growing and will mold quickly.

Mara de Bois

Berries

When buying berries that are packed in plastic or cardboard containers, peek underneath: moisture on the bottom indicates the berries below are soggy or moldy.

Strawberries should be uniformly red with no green at the tips or at the stem. (Did you know the cluster of seeds concentrated at the tip is referred to as a ‘cats nose’?)
Strawberries should have a sweet smell. Some berries have been hybridized to be red on the outside, but disappointingly underripe within, so color’s not always an accurate indication. Avoid buying commercial strawberries after rainy weather: since they grow near the earth, they’re often sprayed with a rather nasty chemical to prevent mold. Look for organic strawberries instead.

If you’re not going to eat strawberries the same day, store them on a plate in the refrigerator, in a single-layer, so they don’t mush each other down.

Raspberries, blueberries, and other bushberries should be plump and dry. Blackberries should be inky-black and a bit soft, never rock-hard. There’s nothing worse than a sour blackberry.

Blueberries should be firm. Most have no fragrance. Did you know that each blueberry can contain up to 100 seeds? If you don’t believe me, slice one open and count. I never wash any berries since they’re too fragile-except blueberries and strawberries.

Can you freeze fresh berries or pitted cherries? Yes. Lay the fruits out in an even layer on a non-reactive baking sheet (or line one with parchment paper.) Freeze. Once frozen, store in zip-top freezer bags. Frozen berries and cherries can be used for sauces, or added frozen mixed with other fruits for pies, crisps, and cobblers.

melons

Melons

It’s been said that finding a good melon is like falling in love. Sometimes you have to try a lot of them to find the right one.

Judy Rodgers in The Zuni Cafe Cookbook insists that the best melons are the ones with lots of netting and claims not to have picked a bad one since learning that. I always take a good sniff. The most amazing melons I’ve tasted were melons that I could smell before I could see them.

Choose a melon that’s heavy and relatively firm, but not-rock hard (except for honeydew melons.) Any mold by the stem end or mushy spots are indications of it being over-the-hill.

A simple melon dessert can be made by pouring sweet wine, such as Muscat or Sauternes, over slices of melon and berries and chilling them well. Store melons in the refrigerator.

Peaches, Elderberries, and Nectarines

Nectarines and Peaches

The best peaches have a sweet, perfumed aroma if you sniff the stem end. Peaches need to be picked a day before ripening, then ripened off the tree. Or better yet, the same day. If they’re too green, they were picked too soon and will never taste good. Ditto for nectarines. Find fruits that are mostly red and blushing.
If faced with a bin of underripe fruits, find one that’s rather soft and smell it. If it smells good, chances are the rest will be too, once ripe.

bag of apricots

Apricots and Plums

Neither of these fruits boast much aroma, but they make up for it with lots of flavor. Apricots should have an appealing blush and no green. Red-tinged apricots means they’ve received lots of sunlight and will likely be good. Apricots are best when they’re gushy-ripe. They should be very soft, like a water balloon. My favorite variety are the Royal and Blenheim apricots.

Most of the flavor in plums are in the skin, and they make the best jam, especially when mixed with raspberries. Santa Rosa and Elephant Heart plums are reliably good.

Baked apricots are a superb, easy dessert: simply halve ripe, but firm apricots, place face-down in a baking dish, pour in a wine glass of white wine (dry or sweet), and drizzle with a copious amount of honey (use more than you think, as apricots get quite tart when cooked.) You can add a split vanilla bean too. Bake until the apricots are tender and juicy.

Delicious with vanilla ice cream!

Fruit Recipes

Baked Nectarines and Cherries

Berry Cobbler

Candied Cherries

Cranberry Raisin Pie

Lemon Tart

Persimmon Bread

Polenta Crisp Topping

Quince tarte Tatin

Red Wine-Poached Rhubarb

Rosy Poached Quince

Tropical Fruit Soup

Vanilla-Poached Quince

Warm Compote of Summer Fruits