Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Strawberries’ Category

It’s like the friggin’ Basil-pocalypse around here, what with my Ungodly Popular Caprese Pasta Salad and pesto buttons.  But in case you haven’t had enough…

In case you love your basil so much you wanna drink it…

In case you love your basil SO much that you want it to make you drunk…

Strawberry Basil wine, bitches!

I sure hope you planted some late-season berries, and if not, I hope you’ve got some stowed in the freezer.  I plan on cleaning it out and getting you trashed.

You’re welcome!

Crank the stereo to 11 and join me on my journey to immortalize one of summer’s most fantastic flavor combinations in the most holy form known to mankind…

BOOZE.

**I’m linking to a reliable source for any optional special equipment or ingredients, and am telling you when there’s a  free alternative. Before settling, though, consider that most of this stuff is surprisingly dirt-cheap, SIGNIFICANTLY easier, and will last you.  Why not invest in your future as a slutty moonshiner?**

Homemade Strawberry Basil Wine
Makes 1 gallon

Go Get:
*a buncha water
*3 lbs. honey or 6 cups sugar
*4 lbs. strawberries, preferably organic or unsprayed (frozen works just fine, thaw ’em first)
*1 cup packed basil leaves
*juice of 1 lemon (don’t use the preserved stuff in the bottle)
*1/2 cup strong black tea
*1 packet wine yeast
*OPTIONAL: 1 tsp. yeast nutrient (makes stronger yeast and more problem-free fermentation)
*OPTIONAL: 1/2 teaspoon pectic enzyme  (gobbles up suspended pectin to prevent the formation of snotty-looking ropes and haze in your wine)

Special Stuff you’ll want to have on hand:
*A primary fermenter: 1 gallon glass jug, crock, or food grade bucket–recycled wine jugs are, obviously, perfect for this
*An auto-siphon with tubing for transferring the wine from the fermenter to the bottles without kicking up sediment; you can also just use about 4 feet of clear, plastic tubing if you’re willing to siphon manually.  If you REALLY don’t care about wine clarity or the potential for off flavors, you can use a kitchen ladle to separate wine from sediment, but you’ll need a wide-mouthed fermenter, like a bucket or crock.
*Bottles for the finished wine: 5 750-ml wine bottles (recycled is fine), or a 1 gallon wine jug, or swing-top beer growlers; if you’re not using wine bottles fitted for a screw top, make sure you have the corks for sealing them.  Sanitized, plastic 2-liter soda bottles aren’t ideal, but they’ll also work as long as you cover them to keep out light–you’ll need about 2 2-liter bottles
*A fine mesh sieve for straining the pureed fruit
*OPTIONAL: A hydrometer (not necessary, but it’ll help you figure out how alcoholic your wine is and how advanced the fermentation is)
*OPTIONAL: Airlock (this keeps air from getting to your wine while still letting CO2 from the fermentation escape–you can also use plastic wrap and a rubber band to seal, though results are not as secure
*OPTIONAL: Rubber bung (heh heh…bung) to seal the fermentation jug (if you’re using one) and have a place to stick the airlock-if you’re using a fermentation bucket, the airlock can go into a pre-drilled hole in the lid. If you’re not using an airlock, do that plastic wrap/rubber band thing.
*OPTIONAL: Candy or meat thermometer (highly recommended)

Go Do:
Clean, rinse, and sanitize all tools, spoons, etc.–basically anything that is going to be touching the wine and isn’t getting boiled needs to be cleaned, rinsed, and sanitized.  See my post on doing that for the products and processes you’ll want to use.

Puree the berries and the basil leaves in a food processor until it’s smoothie consistency (8 cups).

Put it in a large pot with 8 cups of water and all the honey or sugar.

Heat until very hot, but not boiling (185 degrees), and hold it at that temp for half an hour, stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile, boil a second pot of water and let it cool down to room temperature (70 degrees F).

Pour the hot fruit mixture through the fine mesh sieve into a sanitized bowl or pot.

Toss the pulp into the compost heap, or find a fun use for it and share your idea with the class.

Now stir in the lemon juice, tea, yeast nutrient, and pectic enzyme, if using.

Cool the mixture to room temperature and pour into the fermenter.

If the wine doesn’t fill the 1 gallon fermenter to within a few inches of the top, add water from the spare water pot (the one you boiled and cooled) and stir.  Take a reading with your hydrometer if you’re using one–write the number down for later (mine was 1.090, a little low for my liking, but then I accidentally dumped some of my wine stuff down the sink, and will pay the price in alcohol percentage points…crap!).

Now take a half cup of the spare pot water and sprinkle on the yeast packet.  Let it sit for ten minutes to allow the yeast to reacclimate.  Then throw the yeast mixture on top of the wine mixture.  No need to stir, the yeast does a good job of that.

Now put in the rubber bung (heh heh) and airlock (or put on the lid and airlock, or use some plastic wrap secured with a rubber band).  Make sure you half fill the airlock with water to make it effective.  You may want to set the fermenter in a larger bucket in case there’s spillover during fermentation.  Put the whole deal in a dark, room-temp location.

Now we wait.  We let the yeast do their thing, periodically checking to make sure there’s still water in the airlock.  Over the next week or two, you’ll hear lots of bubbling and gurgling going on and will see bubbles coming out the airlock.  It’s a beautiful thing.  Then things slow down and yeast die and drop to the bottom of the fermenter–ah, sediment, can’t live with you, can’t live withou–actually, I just can’t live with you.

Anyhow.  If you were an advanced winemaker, you’d transfer the wine to secondary and tertiary fermenters, but it’s not strictly necessary, and I’d like to keep things simple for you beginners.  Leave the wine in that fermenter for about 2 months–the wine should have stopped fermenting and will hopefully have cleared itself (if you didn’t use pectic enzyme, it may never clear completely).

At this point, a hydrometer really comes in handy to know how much sugar, if any, is left in the wine.  If the yeast have eaten all the sugar, you can safely bottle your wine.  Use this handy online calculator to figure out the final alcohol percentage of your finished wine.  You can test-sample, but fair warning, IT WILL BE HARSH AND PUNISHING, MISFITS.  Worry not, it shall improve immeasurably with time.  Just.  Like.  Us.

Now use your sterilized auto-siphon to transfer the wine from the fermenter (on a table or counter) to your sanitized wine bottles (on the floor), being sure to leave the sediment in the bottom of the fermenter.  (Here’s how to use an auto-siphon, if you’re not sure.  If you’re using plastic tubing, set one end in the primary fermenter, the other end in your mouth–suck until the wine siphons up into the tube and quickly stick it into the secondary fermenter to catch the wine in time.  Then send me a video of you sucking on the tube.  If you’re ladling, well, ladle away!)  You’ll have to leave enough space at the top of bottles for sealing, about 2 inches.

Now seal using a corker if you’re fancy or a rubber mallet and some bravery if you’re not, or just apply the swing tops or screw-tops.  Put the containers back into a cool, dark location, stored sideways if you used corks, and let your wine age for a minimum of six months–a year is even better.

Read Full Post »

Before I launch into today’s post, I want to remind you to visit Monday’s post if you haven’t already and enter to win my giveaway!

All y’alls remember my bitchin’ strawberry rhubarb pie recipe, right?  The one that came with a similarly righteous pate brisee/pie crust recipe?  You know, where I talked all about my crippling paranoia.  Oh, nooooow you remember.   Well, misfits, I recently made it again and it remains the best strawberry rhubarb recipe your Bad Mama Genny has tried since then.

I left the burning juices on the cookie sheet in the photo above to demonstrate my humanity. Also, to remind you that that stuff will be on the bottom of your oven FOR ALL ETERNITY if you don't slip a cookie sheet under your pie. So slip a cookie sheet under your pie.

Okay, so it’s the only recipe I’ve tried since then.  Whatever, we play by different logic around here.

So I made this pie and it was wonderful but then I got OH HOLY more rhurbarb and more strawberries in this week’s CSA box.  And I didn’t want to make another pie.

Well, okay, so your Bad Mama Genny DID want to make another pie, but felt that she should abstain.  For the sake of her waistline.  Which will be greatly exposed this summer.  And does not benefit from the copious ingestion of pate brisee.  Go figure.

So I decided instead to make a strawberry rhubarb sauce–one that’s sweetened naturally, just a little, and without that uncomfortable blood sugar spike of sugar sugar SUGAR SUGGARRR SUUGGAAAAHH!

This version will not kick your ass.  At least, not very much.  It’s more like an ass bump.  Which, if you think about it, sounds pretty damn pleasant.

Ass bumps: try them today!

But there’s a story that goes along with this one.  A heartwarming tale of redemption, second chances, and dreams that just wouldn’t die.  Actually, my story is nothing like that.  But it’s still pretty good and I’m gonna make you listen.  Ignore that “X” in the box at the top right of the screen.  It is merely an illusion.  By the magic of My Bad Self you have been rendered unable to navigate from this page.  Just one of the perks of being me, I guess.

So I’m at my family’s house for a visit with all the ingredients for this sauce in tow, and I go, hey, don’t I remember reading on Farmgirl Susan’s blog about how turtles love strawberries and in some parts of the country will even crawl into your strawberry patch to have a little nom-fest?  And wasn’t there a precious photo of a baby turtle in the strawberry patch to boot?

Oh, yes.  Yes, there was. 

And then I got to thinking, well that’s just the preciousest thing I’ve ever seen and isn’t it sad that I don’t have a turtle to test that on.

Oh, wait.  I totally do.  Her name is Shelly.  And she lives in my family’s living room.

So I went into the living room to harass  horrify delight Shelly with my presence, lifted her out of her cage, and brought her into the kitchen for a lil’ experiment.

Here's Shelly all self-conscious, pretending to be all, "Oh, I care nothing for this strawberry feast you've set before me."

And here she is all of ten seconds later, eating her strawberries with ferocity while I'm all, "Yeah, guess who wants my berries NOW, hmm?" Taunting turtles. It's the American way.

Moral of the story?  Turtles like strawberries and you probably do, too, so make this sauce.  Some of you might want to serve it over ice cream or waffles.  To you, I say, holy crap that is a fucking fantastic idea.  Others will do as I do, and drizzle it all over their bodies and then wait for their own The Boy to come ho–I MEAN–eat it straight like applesauce, or enjoy it alongside some thick yogurt.  Wholesome things.  Like that.

All-Natural, No Refined Sugar Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce

Ingredients:
1/2 cup water
1/4 to 1/3 cup maple syrup (Agave would work well, too, as would honey.  If you’re going to use cane sugar, bump up the amount to about 1/2 cup.)
2 T cornstarch
2 T lemon juice
dash salt
1 bunch rhubarb, sliced (about 4 cups)
1 quart strawberries (mine were little so I left them whole)

Directions:
Combine the water, maple syrup, lemon juice, salt, rhubarb, and strawberries in a saucepot and turn the heat to medium-high.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb is soft, about 5-7 minutes.  Mix the cornstarch with 3 Tablespoons cold water and stir in, cooking for an additional 3 minutes, or until thickened.  Remove from heat and let cool–keeps in an airtight container for about a week, longer if you’re feeling like a daring misfit.  And I know you are.

Read Full Post »

Pardon my dark edges, I got a little excited.

You know that funny “middle” time when spring is starting to turn into summer, but it’s not quite sure, and it’s still raining an awful lot and you’ve just put your tomatoes out, but then again, you’ve got loads of berries and you’re not wearing a jacket anymore and you think it might be summer because OH MY HOLY GOD IT’S ONLY THE BEGINNING OF MAY AND IT’S NINETY FREAKING DEGREES OUT WHY ON EARTH DO I ALREADY HAVE A SUNBURN IS SOMEONE TRYING TO KILL ME?!

Well, do you?  Good.

You know what tastes like that time of year?  This pie.

Friends, as I said on Twitter, it is a sign of the universe’s generosity that strawberries and rhubarb are in season at the same time.  This flavor combination ranks right up there with the greats: tomatoes and basil, peanut butter and chocolate, pickles and ice cream, pain and suffering…what better way to celebrate nature’s bounty?  And since my CSA box was taking the term “bountiful” seriously, I ended up with a whole lotta strawberries and rhubarb on my hands.  Hey, I wasn’t about to complain.  It was a good deal better than when the farmshare people were trying to kill me or drive me slowly insane by including stinging nettles in my box AND NOT TELLING ME WHAT THEY WERE OR HOW TO HANDLE OR SHOULD I SAY NOT HANDLE THEM.

I’m using my outdoor voice a lot today.  I’ve also managed to develop multiple conspiracy theories in a very short span of time.  I’m not paranoid, guys.  I just think there may be multiple plots against my health and sanity.  That’s all.

When I was in high school, I had an English teacher who told us, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t all out to get you.”  Wise woman, she was.  But I digress.

I’m always digressing.

The Boy says he enjoys it.  But I digress.

Try this pie–you won’t be sorry.  It’s best served warm, alongside a generous helping of your own self-importance and a sinking feeling that you’re being watched.  I’d have it after you pull stinging nettle spines out of your hands, but before you rub aloe goo on your burned shoulders.

This season is going to kill me.

Stellar Pie Crust, and Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

First, make the Stellar Pie Crust/Pate Brisee (recipe makes 2 crusts, which is perfect for this recipe):

Go Get:
2 1/2 cups flour (I like a mix of 1 cup whole wheat and 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose white flour, but that’s up to you–my pics reflect the wheat crust)
2 sticks (1 cup) very cold butter cut into bitty pieces
1 teaspoon salt
4 to 6 Tablespoons ice water (I fill a measuring cup up to the halfway point with cold water and then stick it in the freezer for a few minutes)

Go Do:
Okay, so here’s the part where I work in yet another opportunity to use my fancy-pants food processor, but you can just use a plain old bowl and a pastry cutter.  Dump the flour and salt into the food processor bowl and pulse it a few times to combine.  Then toss in all the butter pieces and pulse it again until the mixture resembles various pea-sized clumps.  DON’T OVERDO IT!  The key to wonderful, tender, flaky pie crust is UNEVENLY distributing butter to make little fat pockets, and keeping those fat pockets chilly so they don’t melt down and, well, stop being fat pockets.  At this point, start the machine running and quickly feed in ice water until the dough is just starting to hold itself together.  Don’t add so much water that it’s sticky or damp.  Grab a small handful of dough and squeeze it together–if it holds, it’s ready.  Then divide the dough in half, wrap each lump in waxed paper, and stick it in the fridge.  Give it a good hour or two before you use it.

And now, for the pie:

Go Get:
1 recipe of the Stellar Pie Crust
3 heaping cups sliced strawberries
4 cups thinly sliced rhubarb
1 1/4 cups sugar (I use raw sugar), plus a bit for sprinkling on top, if you like that sort of thing (I like that sort of thing, and used between 1 and 2 Tablespoons)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 egg yolk
1 Tablespoon cream

Go Do:
Take your pie dough out of the fridge and let it come up to temperature just until it’s loose enough to roll out.  Keep it as chilly as possible.  While you do this, toss the fruit, rhubarb, flour, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl and let it sit and marry on the counter.  At this point, preheat the oven to 425F degrees.  Flour the surface and roll out one disk so it’s large enough to lay into your pie dish.  Lay it in the pan, use a paring knife to cut the excess dough from around the dish’s edges, and turn back to your filling.  At this point, toss the fruit mixture around a bit more.  The berries will have released some juices, allowing you to distribute the sugar and flour more evenly.  Dump the filling ingredients into the pie dish, and stick the whole thing in the fridge for a moment.

Now roll out the other layer of pie crust.  Make it a bit bigger than the bottom one, as when you weave the lattice strips in and out, you’ll use up some dough length.  Using a sharp paring knife or pizza cutter, cut skinny strips of dough.  Pull the pie out of the fridge and gently lay strips going in one direction across the pie (the closer the lattice, the more impressive the final look).  Then begin to lay strips in the other direction (I like to lay the second set of strips at a diagonal to the first ones because I think it makes pleasant diamond-shaped holes, but you do whatever turns you on).  As you lay this second set of dough strips, gently weave the top strips in an over-under pattern.  When you’ve basketweaved all the strips, roll the strip ends over the bottom crust and tuck them under.  Use a fork or your fingers to crimp the edges and make it all look finished.  Stick the whole thing in the fridge for a few minutes.   (Note–I am not trying to make you crazy with all this fancy fridge-work.  I’m merely trying to ensure a tender, flaky crust for you.  Yeah, that’s right.  Bet you feel pretty bad about complaining now.)

In a small bowl, beat and egg white and some milk with a fork until it’s well-combined.  Pull the pie out after it’s chilled for a few minutes and brush (honestly?  I gave up on the pastry brush and used my fingers) the mixture over the lattice top and the crust edges.  This will turn your pie crust a beautiful, shiny, golden color.  You’re welcome!  Now, if you like, sprinkle additional sugar over the top of the pie for sparkle and just the right hint of sweet crunch.  Stick your pie onto a cookie sheet for easy removal, and pop the whole thing into the oven.  Bake it at this temp for about 20 minutes, and then lower the oven to 400 and bake for another hour or so.  Check it occasionally to make sure the crust isn’t browning too fast–if it is, just cut a large piece of foil and gently lay it on top of the pie.  The filling will continue to cook but the crust will stop browning so quickly.  Don’t judge your pie’s doneness by the crust color–you may end up with raw fruit.  You’ll know the filling is done when you poke a knife into the fruit mix and it slides right through the fruit and rhubarb with zero resistance.  After you take it out, let it cool for at least an hour, hour and a half before you eat it–not only will you avoid burning your mouth on molten hot berry lava, but you’ll also notice that the filling will gel and hold together better.

You can serve this warm, a la mode (yum!), but we just drizzled it with a few tablespoons of fresh cream.  Oh, yes, yes, yes.

Read Full Post »

I’m not gonna lie–it is hard to serve most men salad for dinner.

Bad Mama Genny’s inner Gloria Steinem is recoiling at the generalization, but there it is. I think it’s part connotation, part social expectations (a la “real men don’t eat quiche,” which is such bull because I swear I could get Chuck Norris to eat quiche if HE WOULD ONLY RETURN MY PHONE CALLS WHERE ARE YOU CHUCK I’VE BEEN SITTING OUTSIDE YOUR BEDROOM WINDOW FOR LIKE EVER) and part vivid memories of poor salad execution. So when you endeavor to serve your man, or any other skeptic for that matter, a dinner salad, you must remember…

THE ALMIGHTY RULES FOR SERVING SALAD TO MEN:

*Top it with meat. Lots.
*Top it with cheese. Lots.
*Include crunchy bits.  Nuts are good, crumbled tortilla chips and chow mein noodles are better.  I did not invent this logic, I just know it to be true.
*Include a delicious, warm hunk of bread. A low-carb salad just adds insult to injury, and we don’t want to hurt anyone’s big, strong man feelings here.
*Borrow the “sandwich method” from business management school. By that, I mean, flank a salad meal on either side with two extremely beef-a-riffic, man-friendly meals. Examples include: a steak sandwich, chicken wings, a whole side of buffalo, a double cheeseburger with steak fries, a T-bone served to him by you clad in a leopard-print loincloth, a beheaded buffalo passed briefly over an open flame.  Eaten off a stick.  Amidst ambient grunting.
*Act like he’s doing you a huuuuge favor for condescending to eat your salad, and my, isn’t he just the most wonderful, most handsome, most long-suffering The Boy ever? (What you really mean is, you should eat this salad, be grateful for this salad, think this salad is the best salad you have ever eaten in your life, and remember to tell me all of these things while looking at me the way you did the first time we ever met.)

And perhaps the most important rule of all:

*Don’t make it a habit. He will become immediately distrustful of your intentions, and will began to entertain nightmarish fears that you are secretly trying to go vegetarian. Even if your salads are doused in meat. Suffocated by meat. Shrouded by warm, still breathing piles of meaty meat.

You don’t have to take my word for it, either. When he starts breaking out into cold sweats at the grocery store when you pass the tofu, you’ll KNOW Bad Mama Genny was right.

Hey, don’t blame me. I don’t WANT to be right, here, I just am.  It’s my cross to bear.

In any case, this isn’t even the most man-friendly salad dinner I’ve ever made. I believe that one involved copious amounts of barbecued chicken, thick shreds of cheddar cheese, a creamy dressing, and a paper thin layer of lettuce. But really, now. We needed veggies.

The Boy will be just fine. Nobody feel bad for The Boy.

Especially because I split some lovely french rolls to accompany, stuffed them to the gills with double-cream brie, and baked them at 425 until they were oozy and delicious and melt in your mouth oh my god I need a cigarette.

This recipe is so simple and haphazard, which is what makes it great. It’s also what makes it painful to commit to words. Improvise, use what you’ve got on hand, and adjust proportions to your liking.

Then enjoy. Both the salad, and his lame attempts to convince you he’s excited by it.

I know I did.

Strawberry Salad with Baby Greens, Almonds, and Scallops
(I meant to include crumbled goat cheese in this salad, but then discovered that I didn’t have any. Sad, I know. That’s how I settled on the brie-stuffed French rolls…hardly a disappointing switch. Feel free to use whichever you like.)

Makes 2 Servings

Go Get:
2 Romaine hearts, torn into bite-size pieces
1 cup mixed baby greens (mine were from my garden’s thinning. Not that I’m bragging or anything. Except I totally am.)
1/4 cup sliced, dry-roasted almonds
10 strawberries, sliced
20 smallish wild bay scallops, rinsed and patted dry (if I could have, though, I would have opted for just a few giant scallops. They weren’t available.)
garlic powder
pepper
salt
apple cider vinegar
olive oil
fresh basil, or high quality dry (Spice House!)
poppy seeds
mayonnaise

Go Do:
In a shaker bottle or dressing pitcher, mix 1 part apple cider vinegar and 2 parts olive oil. Add poppy seeds, shredded fresh basil, salt, pepper, and enough mayo to make it slightly creamy (but not heavy). Whisk it or shake it, and set aside.

On 2 large plates, arrange the Romaine pieces. Then layer on the baby greens. Next lay on the strawberries and almonds. (Told you this was easy.) Lightly drizzle dressing over both plates.

Sprinkle both sides of the scallops with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. In a skillet, heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil over medium heat until it’s hot. Gently lay the scallops in the pan and cook them (without moving them around too much–they’ll form a nicer crust that way) for 2 to 3 minutes per side. When they’re opaque, they’re done. Don’t make anybody cry by overcooking them. If you think they’re done, they’re probably done.

Lay the scallops on top of the salads, and serve.

If you were planning to include brie-stuffed rolls, as I did, put them in the oven at 425 before you do everything else. They should be ready to go when you are.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: