Recipes for using the first strawberries of spring


With the first two heat waves of winter under our belt, the start of March already feels very “springtime”. And another harbinger of that feeling is seeing the first strawberries of the season. Of course, berries are available in Southern California almost year-round, but I always refrain from eating them from early October until their glorious return in early March.

And while the super ripe and juicy ones that come later in the season and summer are best eaten raw, I like to use these early specimens for cooking, bridging the divide between winter and spring while I I still want to turn on my oven. Here are some great recipes that I will try with the first pints I pick up at the market.

I love these vegan muffins from Go Get Em Tiger, and the fact that they have chunks of fresh strawberries suspended in their batter makes them even more delicious. This will be my breakfast for the foreseeable future.

For another breakfast, I love Genevieve Ko’s Strawberry Shortcake Cookies, which are eaten like tiny strawberry shortcakes. A few of them warm from the oven with a cup of coffee in the morning or afternoon, always improve my mood.

For a solid shortbread idea, I love these rye shortbread cookies because their whole grain balances all the rich whipped cream and butter nicely. Fruit is also a great mix for this time of year: more or less equal parts sweet spring strawberries and sweet, floral winter citrus.

This vintage strawberry pie by Roxana Jullapat is very welcoming and comforting. A flaky, buttery pastry crust has a ton of berries that are lightly sweetened and gently bound with a little gelatin and cornstarch into a beautiful shiny red gel. Simplicity at its best.

And, to keep on hand in case of another heat wave, I make this simple strawberry sorbet sweetened with sugar and balanced with a whole lemon, based on the iconic recipe from the River Cafe in London. A few scoops in a glass and a sip of ginger ale makes for a refreshing drink to help think of the warmer days and summer strawberries ahead.

Vegan Strawberry Muffins

Strawberries flow into these super moist muffins with swirls of jam in the batter and fresh cut fruit on top. Coconut oil and macadamia milk lend richness to two-bowl batter, which comes together quickly and bakes into muffins that taste great whether you’re vegan or not.
Get the recipe.
Cooking time: 1 hour

(Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times)

Strawberry shortbread cookies

Toasted on top and tender in the center, these buttery cookies are loaded with juicy strawberries. For an even crispier top, sprinkle with raw sugar or coarse raw sugar.
Get the recipe.
Cooking time: 45 minutes

Strawberry shortbread cookies

(Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times)

Rye shortcakes with strawberry-mandarinquat compote and citrus Labneh

When strawberries are small and young, their leaves are still tiny and tender. Keep them over the berries for the aesthetic and earthy taste they impart that balances sweet fruit and rich cookie.
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Cooking time: 1h10

Vintage strawberry pie

This might be the fastest pie filling you can make. For easy pie crust, be sure to keep the butter cold, and when adding it to the flour, toss the cubes to coat before cutting. Also, chill the dough before rolling it out and again before baking to keep it together.
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Cooking time: 1 hour

Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet Floats

Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray of the River Cafe in London came up with this ingenious method of making sorbet using whole lemon zest. You might think the lemon flavor would be too intense, but when combined with ripe berries, it tastes just like frozen strawberry lemonade.
Get the recipe.
Cooking time: 15 minutes, plus refrigeration and freezing


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