Posts Tagged ‘Concord grape’

this is a great time of year for cooks and appreciative eaters, late spring. a few teasing scallions, the first strawberries. you can feel the swell in the warming air. we’re on the verge of everything.

winter’s nice with its slow-cooked stews and cindy lou who roast beast. I even have a fruitcake recipe that doesn’t inspire comparisons to an anvil. but when I shed the winter sweaters and heavy socks, I want to shed the winter kitchen and heavy food, too.

bring on lemon anything, pale green anything. I don’t even want to cook it if I don’t have to. tonight for dinner I ate vanilla yogurt and raw, local, organic sugar snap peas that I washed and sprinkled with kosher salt. cold-weather food soothes; warm-weather food enlivens. you feel lighter and refreshed, ready to get back outside.

last week I spoke with the chef of tre amici in long branch, nj, a young guy who’s always itching to do something fresh and different. consequently, he either goes out of his way to get beautiful produce or he simply grows it himself. when fall comes, his climbing concord grape vine and little black mission fig tree will be loaded with fruit that he can use with roast game, desserts, whatever. talk about anticipation.

A still-green fig, waiting for its moment in the sun.

there is so much to look forward to. let’s get our feet wet with the best the season has now. like strawberries. the best way I can think of to enjoy them is in an old, old recipe, from a long-gone farmer’s wife, for strawberry shortcake. it’s not a vanilla layer cake with whipped cream and chilean strawberries that you get at perkins. it might have its own redeeming qualities, but it is not strawberry shortcake. this is.

wash, then hull, a big bunch of strawberries. please get them from a farmers’ market if you want them to have any flavor at all. get little ones, because as with most produce, bigger means the flavor is diluted with too much water. smaller is sweeter. dump them in a big bowl, add some granulated sugar, and mash them up with a potato masher or a fork. put the bowl in the fridge.

next, make some biscuits. hit your standard cookbook or google for a recipe. finding one will not be a problem. (note: the kind from the freezer section will taste of the chemicals they contain, and do you really want to insult your strawberries? have a heart. a biscuit batch takes ten minutes to mix up, and you probably have all of the ingredients in the house right now. no joke.) make sure the biscuit is hot out of the oven or, if you baked it earlier, that it’s thoroughly reheated through.

split that guy open and butter lavishly. close it back up and set it in the bottom of a bowl. plop a pile of your sugared macerated strawberries on top of it. now pour heavy cream on top of everything, and oh man, if you’re lucky enough to live near a farm that produces its own cream, use that. just don’t tell me about it or I’ll cry with envy. now grab a spoon and get down to it.

later you can dream about what else is to come. for now…this strawberry dream is as good as any.

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