Friday, June 21, 2013

Strawberries!!!!

It wouldn’t be June without juicy, fresh strawberries. JP and I hopped in the car. Destination: our favorite pick your own berry farm. As usual, I did most of the picking while JP did his share of hilarious complaining about the hard work plucking gems from their stems.

Then there is the strawberry supervisor side of him. “Not that one. It’s not red enough!”

An hour later we were headed home with six pounds of berries. Some to eat fresh, some to freeze for later and some to macerate for tonight's dessert. Macerating fruit is the equivalent to marinating meats and veggies. A simple recipe is all you need for fabulous!

Fresh, ripe berries lightly soaked in a bit of honey and your favorite liqueur (I used strawberry grappa this time) add a layer of flavor that does more than enhance good berries, it adds life to berries that aren't ripe enough or are a bit past their prime. Even a sprinkle of sugar and a drizzle of lemon juice will transform a ho-hum quart of strawberries into a flavorful, juicy treat ready to wow your family and friends. Try gently sweetened, fresh macerated berries on Belgian waffles, shortcake biscuits, ice cream, or make a yogurt parfait; use your imagination!

Macerated Strawberries
2 pounds strawberries, hulled (slice or larger berries)
2 tablespoons honey or sugar
2 tablespoons any fruit or citrus liqueur (non alcohol version: orange or lemon juice work well)

Toss the all ingredients in a medium bowl and allow them to marinate in the refrigerator for no les than 4 and up to 24 hours. Spoon the macerated strawberries over waffles, pound cake, ice cream, or yogurt. Add a dollop of fresh whipped cream if desired.

This macerated strawberries recipe makes 6 servings.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Ready, set, patio dining!

Here in New England we love surf and turf. Add to that it's finally grilling season and let the games begin! 

Steaks, burgers, BBQ ribs and chicken ... the list is long and mouth watering. Paired up with steamers or better yet, lobster, and we East Coast huggers are in heaven. But how to turn the usual summer menu into something special can be something of a challenge.

Starting courses are a great way to set up the taste buds for a juicy main attraction.  Last night, we hosted our first backyard dinner party. And of course, surf and turf was on the menu. Check out our appetizer course, an attempted replication of a small plate Farmer Paul and I enjoyed more than 20 years ago at a bistro in Quebec City.

It took us several tries over as many years to come up with a version that tickled our taste buds as much as the memory of that original dish. It's still not quite right, but this recipe is so good and so easy that we stopped experimenting. Follow up with a chopped salad and the perfect grilled steak (medium rare is Farmer Paul's specialty) ... heaven awaits your taste buds!

Lobster Cream Puffs
1 sheet prepared puff pastry, thawed
1/4 stick butter
1/8 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup cognac (optional)
1 pound lobster meat, cooked


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Cut puff sheets into four 3 inch squares and four smaller sized rectangles. Place pastry shares on a parchment lined baking sheet for 12-15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.

While puffs are baking. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and stir in the cream and cognac until thickened. Stir in parmesan until melted in. Season lightly with pepper and salt. Fold in lobster. Keep warm.

Spoon lobster sauce over each puff square. Garnish with small puff pillow. Serve.