The warm weather has brought the first berries of the season a little early this year and I can't wait to get out picking. The few rows of strawberries in my backyard are still mostly green, and I'm not sure that I'll beat the squirrels to the ripe ones (they seem to have finally discovered them this year). Whether it's a few strawberries from my yard, or 10 pounds picked at a local 'pick your own' farm, the taste of fresh strawberries, still warm from the sun is so exponentially better than the ones trucked in from California or Florida, that we eat the rest of the year, that I just can't wait to get to the fields this weekend! Check pickyourown.org for locations near you, and if you are in CT, you can also check out buyctgrown.com for info on local farms. I called Jones Fmaily Farm in Shelton, one of my favorites, and they are open for picking starting Thursday May 31, 8am-5:30pm. Call before heading you to check on picking conditions and weather.
I got lucky yesterday. While at a work meeting, wondering how I was going to fit berry picking into my busy weekend, not to mention the challenge of the impending rain, I got invited up the block to the Yale Farm to pick strawberries! What a fantastic gift! Food grown right where we live, a gift that we need to keep spreading around this city! (more on that in another post...)
Recently I submitted this recipe to the folks at BuyCTGrown to help them promote locally grown ingredients. It will be printed on their "Very Berry Cards" this season.
Strawberries with Lemon Verbena Cream
1 quart strawberries*
3 tablespoons sugar (or honey)
4 lemon verbena leaves (mint or tarragon can be used as well)
1/4 cup sugar
10 lemon verbena leaves (mint or tarragon can be used as well)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (or other strained yogurt)
- Wash and slice strawberries. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar or other sweetener. Crush verbena leaves with your fingers, add to strawberries and sugar, stir and set aside.
- Combine ¼ cup sugar with lemon verbena leaves in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until leaves are very finely chopped. Alternately, use a knife or a mortar and pestle to very finely chop leaves into sugar.
- Mix heavy cream, yogurt and verbena sugar together. Using a whisk or electric mixer mix until thick whipped cream has formed.
- Serve a small bowl of berries with a generous scoop of yogurt and verbena laced whipped cream.
Additional serving suggestions: Toast slices of brioche or challah bread and spoon strawberries and cream on top of each slice for a fun and healthier alternative to strawberry shortcake.
* one quart is about 1 ½ pounds of strawberries
This recipe is also great served in homemade chocolate cups.
Want to get out picking? Find a location near you:
PickYourOwn.org - for national listings
BuyCTGrown.com - for CT listings
Have fun and please share your favorite strawberry recipes or photos of you picking!