Roasted Strawberry Refrigerator Jam

I bought 8 pounds of beautiful, ripe, organic strawberries the other day at Costco. Because I have some serious fruit lovers in my house the berries disappeared pretty quick, almost before I could set aside what I needed to make this jam.

My plan was to make a simple standby recipe from Cooking Light for refrigerator jam – no canning or sterilizing required – but I had some other things to do and didn’t want to stand watch for the better part of an hour over a pot of simmering strawberries.

So I let the oven do the work, a technique I employ a lot in my cooking. Hands free is a great thing in the kitchen.

I usually make this jam with red wine or balsamic vinegar instead of brandy, but this time I used the last drops from a bottle of framboise (clear raspberry liqueur). Strawberry-flavored vodka would be fun to try, too.

There’s an inspiring feature in the April 2011 O Magazine on women food entrepreneurs, Seven Women Who Turned Their Passion for Food into a Career. I found a few of the food products mentioned in the story during my many shopping travels.

I spread Belle Chevre Honey Breakfast Cheese on Effie’s Homemade Oatcakes, then topped with some jam. Delicious!

Roasted Strawberry Refrigerator Jam

Yield: About 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

4 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons clear fruit brandy (raspberry, strawberry, cherry) or strawberry-flavored vodka

1 vanilla bean pod, split, plus scraped seeds

Instructions

  1. Toss the strawberries in a bowl with the sugar, brandy, vanilla pod and scraped seeds. Let stand 10 minutes. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet or small roasting pan.
  2. Roast in a 250 degree oven for about 2 hours, until the berries are very soft and shriveled. Mix around once or twice as they cook.
  3. Let the syrupy berries cool. Remove the vanilla pod. Pulse in a food processor or mash by hand with a potato masher to a chunky consistency.
  4. Store in a covered jar in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
http://familystylefood.com/2011/04/roasted-strawberry-refrigerator-jam/

Strawberry and Cream Trifle

When a gorgeous slice of cake appears in front of you, tall and gloriously layered, which part is your fork most attracted to?

Much like preferring certain parts of a chicken over others – I’m a thigh girl, in case you’re wondering – I’ve noticed how people like to eat their cake. Some people avoid extraneous fluff, frosting or filling and zero in on their prize: the cake; while others are happy to precisely scrape away and devour only the layers of icing, leaving naked, golden cake all alone on the plate, like Beyoncè after she’s stripped off a pink satin dress at the end of the day.

It must be a trait we carry throughout our lifetime, because it’s not only children who seem to have this compulsion. I know a few adults who would gladly mutilate a harmless cake just to get at the neon-colored icing.

I place myself in the democratic camp; I get some of everything when I dig in to dessert; a bite of moist cake, the crush of sweet juicy fruit, and a lashing of vanilla-scented cream. That’s why I think trifle is such a perfect dessert: It’s cake deconstructed and put back together.

For this trifle recipe, I baked a sponge cake from pastry chef David Lebovitz’s new book Ready for Dessert. It’s super-easy to make and even better made ahead of time – like the day before assembling the trifle. But to keep things extra-simple, a store-bought angel food cake would work just as well.

And – ssshhh – maybe even better, since you can take credit for serving a simply stunning dessert for Mother’s Day (or any day) without having to turn on the oven.

Strawberry and Cream Trifle

Serving Size: serves 4

Ingredients

For sponge cake:

5 large eggs, separated

¼ cup cold water

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ cups cake flour, sifted

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Grated zest of a lemon or orange

For Trifle:

¾ cup sugar

2 cups crème fraiche

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 vanilla bean, split with sharp knife and seeds scraped

Juice from one large lemon or orange

4 cups mixed hulled and sliced strawberries and raspberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter the bottom of a rimmed 12 x 18-inch baking sheet or a 9-inch springform pan with sides at least 2 inches high. Line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip the egg yolks and water on high speed for 1 minute. Decrease speed to medium, add sugar and vanilla then increase speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture forms a ribbon when the whip is lifted, about 5 minutes. Scrape the batter into another bowl, and wash the bowl and beater.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt over the beaten yolks. Gently fold in the flour until completely incorporated.
  4. Whip the egg whites and zest in the clean bowl on high speed until they form stiff peaks. Fold one-third of the whites into the yolk batter to lighten, then fold in the remaining whites.
  5. Pour batter into the prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Bake until the cake is lightly browned and the center springs back when gently pressed, 15 – 18 minutes in a baking sheet or 40 – 45 minutes in a springform cake pan.
  6. Let cake cool in the pan. Run a knife around the sides of cake to loosen and invert onto a cutting board.
  7. Whisk ½ cup sugar with the crème fraiche, cream and vanilla bean seeds in a medium bowl until smooth.
  8. In another bowl, whisk the remaining ¼ cup sugar with lemon or orange juice to dissolve. Gently stir in the berries. Let the berries sit 10 minutes.
  9. To assemble the trifle, cut the cake into circles to fit into 4 wide, shallow glasses. You can use ramekins, dessert bowls or go all out and use a special trifle bowl if you have one, just cut the cake into pieces to fit.
  10. Layer cake, berries and cream into whatever serving container you’re using, ending with berries on top. Refrigerate 30 minutes to one hour before serving.
http://familystylefood.com/2010/05/strawberry-and-cream-trifle/

Mangoes, Strawberries and Lime – Oh My!

Okay – so this is not much of a recipe post, but more of a celebration of seasonal fruit.

We’re right on the threshold of summer and the promise of all the sweet fruit I love – plums, peaches, cherries, nectarines – is right around the corner. Cooking and eating at this time of year is all about keeping things simple, celebrating perfectly ripe, fresh food and trying to not mess it up too much.

I’m always happy to see Champagne mangoes appear in markets in late spring. “Champagne” is a sexy marketing name, the variety is actually an Ataulfo or Manila mango from Mexico. The flesh is super sweet and has almost zero fiber – to me this readily available fruit is as close as I can get to mango heaven without having to move to the tropics.