Sunday, April 29, 2012

'Tis the (strawberry) season

With strawberries in season, they're big, fresh and priced right to use by the pound!  My kids love fresh strawberries, so it's easy to get them to eat anything if it has strawberries in it.

Strawberry-Apple Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips
Strawberry-Spinach Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette
Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Fruit Salsa

One of our favorite non-dessert dishes are the apple-strawberry salsa with cinnamon chips (I use "Stacy's" brand Cinnamon chips and Gingerbread chips).  You could make your own by baking tortillas until crispy.  Or use dried apple chips, graham crackers, etc. This is a terrific snack or appetizer to bring to a party.  It's also a teacher-favorite (class parties, appreciation lunches).

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, chopped
1 pint of strawberries or between 1-2 cups, sliced or chopped coarsely
2 kiwi chopped
2 Tbsp apple and/or peach jelly
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 orange, about a tsp of zest, and juice from 1/2 (if it's a large orange)

Mix in a bowl and serve immediately or chilled with the chips.


Strawberry-Spinach Salad

A second non-dessert dish is a spinach-strawberry salad.  The ingredients may sounds like an odd combination, but once you take a bite, you'll realize how perfect the marriage is.

1 bag baby spinach leaves, de-stemmed
1 pint strawberries, remove core and slice with egg slicer
3-4 fresh mushrooms, sliced - I use baby bellas
1/3 red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 - 1 cup walnuts 

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar (white wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar is a good substitute)
1 Tbsp oil - olive or a lighter vegetable oil is fine
2 Tbsp raspberry jam
1 Tbsp honey

Toss salad ingredients with dressing and serve.


Chocolate Covered Strawberries

I tried something new this year - chocolate covered strawberries.  I just melted down some semi-sweet chocolate baking bars (and chips, when I realized I needed more) in a double broiler.  Then I dipped the strawberries and placed them on some parchment paper on the counter to cool and set.

Some tips I realized as I did this:
1. If you have a few strawberries with part of the stem still attached (sticking out of the leaves), leave it, this will be a big help in you being able to hold it and dip it into very hot (nearly burning) chocolate.

2. There's a very fine window of temperature that is perfect for dipping.  I'm sure it's written somewhere what that is, so if you have a candy thermometer, this is a great time to use it.  At the perfect temperature, the chocolate sticks and coats the strawberries well, and appears nice and smooth.  Too cold or hot, it gets clumpy and tends to run off - not as pretty, but still delicious.

3. There's also a window of "set" time needed to avoid the chocolate sticking to the parchment paper.  The best idea is to set them on parchment paper inside a plastic dish that you can place in the frig to cool and set.  Coming out of the frig, they didn't stick to the paper.

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