Tag Archives: dessert

Local Strawberries for Valentine’s Day

We don’t make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day.  Years ago, when Ed and I were first dating, we’d go out to a fancy restaurant.  But now, we’re just as happy to enjoy a quiet night at home.  I try to make a special meal for the two of us, and I always like to include a strawberry dessert.

Big red hearts on Valentine’s Day make me think of strawberries.  Unfortunately, strawberry season isn’t until June around here, and those berries shipped into the grocery store can be pricey, especially with this year’s weather.  Not to mention, they’re gassed to ripen and never seem to have the same flavor or aroma as truly local, fresh, ripe berries.

If you’re a strawberry fan like me, you probably preserved a bunch of berries when they were in season, making jam or jelly, freezing or dehydrating.  So, this year for Valentine’s Day, I’m going to make a strawberry dessert using the bounty of my freezer, and I wanted to share a few recipes that will work nicely with preserved or frozen berries.

strawberry cutie pies 027

Strawberry Cutie Pies are the perfect size for a romantic dinner with your Valentine.  I think I’d put little hearts on the top this time instead of stars.  Frozen whole berries, thawed and crushed, make a great substitute for fresh.

 strawberry rhubarb pie 010

If you’re spending Valentine’s Day with the whole family, make a full size Strawberry Pie, or Strawberry Rhubarb if you’ve got rhubarb in your freezer, too.

salad and shortcake 007

Strawberry Shortcake is a perfect way to use frozen sugared strawberries.

valentines-day-018

And for those of you who simply must have chocolate on Valentine’s Day, try Chocolate Cheesecake with Strawberry Topping.  I made this last year for Valentine’s Day and I was so happy to have leftovers for days.

I haven’t decided which one of these recipes I’ll make for Valentine’s Day this year, but I’m currently leaning towards the cutie pies.  Any one of these desserts, when served after a meal cooked with love at home, makes for a wonderful Valentine’s Day.  Use some beeswax candles for ambiance, and I’m certain you won’t even think about how eco-friendly it is.  You’ll just enjoy the time with your sweetie.

This post is my contribution to this month’s APLS Blog Carnival, which is themed “Greening Valentine’s Day.”  To read all about how to have a more eco-friendly Valentine’s Day, visit Retro Housewife Goes Green on January 19.

7 Comments

Filed under Food, Living from Scratch, Local Agriculture, Recipes, Sustainable Living

The Best Strawberry Shortcake

It’s strawberry season! I was so excited to see “native” (a.k.a. “local”) strawberries at my family’s farm market today!  We celebrated with strawberry shortcake tonight. 

salad and shortcake 007

There are three components to strawberry shortcake: strawberries, biscuits, and whipped cream.  This recipe serves 4, and can be easily modified for any number of people.

Strawberries

  • In-season strawberries from your area are the best.  Mash a quart early in the day, at least a few hours before you want to make shortcakes, with a few tablespoons of sugar or honey.  Cover and let them sit at room temperature so the juices collect.

Biscuits

  • Today, I used the fresh-baked biscuits from my family’s farm market, but if you want to make your own, try my baking powder biscuits or buttermilk biscuits.  I keep telling myself that someday I’ll try shortcakes made with raspberry-cranberry scones.
  • When you’re ready to make the shortcakes, slice four biscuits in half.  Spread them with butter, then sprinkle with a pinch of sugar.  Place them in a frying pan, butter-side down, and toast them over a medium-low flame.

Whipped Cream

  • You can whip the cream while the biscuits toast.  Combine 1 cup cream, 1 Tbsp sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract in a bowl.  Beat with a hand mixer or by hand with a whisk until soft peaks form. 

To assemble the shortcakes:

  • Place the bottom of the toasted biscuit in a bowl. 
  • Spoon on some strawberries, then some whipped cream.
  • Add the top of the biscuit.
  • Spoon on more berries, then more whipped cream.

This is my favorite summer dessert! What’s yours?

9 Comments

Filed under Food, Local Agriculture, Recipes

Chocolate Cheesecake with Strawberry Topping for my Valentine

valentines-day-010

I love strawberries, and that’s no secret.  I thought about making strawberry shortcake for our Valentine’s Day dessert, but I really wanted to incorporate chocolate.  I finally decided to make a chocolate cheesecake with a strawberry topping.  I adapted Emeril’s recipe for NY-Style Chocolate Cheesecake to fit our tastes.  I used my largest spring-form pan, since we love leftovers! If you have a smaller (8 inch or so) pan, you may want to cut the filling in half.  

valentines-day-018

If you try this recipe, just make sure that you have enough time.  You really need to make it the day before to allow for all the cooling time.

Here’s my recipe:

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 Tbsp melted butter

Mix the crumbs and butter, then press into the bottom of your springform pan.  Set aside while you make the filling.

Filling

  • 10 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 1/2 lbs (five 8oz. packaged) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 eggs

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (which I don’t have) or a bowl set over a simmering pot of water (which I do have).  Don’t boil it too hard, just let it simmer and slowly melt the chocolate.  Give it a stir and set it aside to cool slightly.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until well combined, stopping frequently to scrape the bowl.  Add the flour and blend well.  Add the sour cream and chocolate and blend well, again scraping the bowl often.  Blend in the eggs, one at a time.  Pour into the crust.  Bake in a preheated 325°F oven for 60-70 minutes.  Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake cool in the oven, without moving it, for 1-2 hours.  Remove the cheesecake to a wire rack and let cool 1 more hour on the counter.  Then chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or overnight.  Before serving, run a knife around the edge of the pan and remove the spring-form sides, then add the topping.

Topping

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries , thawed (I’m using ones I froze last June)
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp strawberry preserves or jam
  • 1/2 to 1 cup sour cream

Mash the berries together with the sugar, lemon juice and preserves, and let sit for about an hour or more to let the juices collect (I love juicy berries!).  Spread the sour cream on the top of the cheesecake.  This will help to disguise any cracks and will also make the topping stand out.  Spoon on top of the sour cream, slice the cheesecake and serve.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

6 Comments

Filed under Food, Local Agriculture, Recipes

Peach Shortcake

peach-shortcake-002

I used home-canned peaches for this recipe today, but by all means use fresh ripe peaches, sliced and sprinkled with a little bit of sugar if they’re in season.  These biscuits have cornmeal in them, which I find to be very yummy when combined with peaches, as you can see from my recipe for Johnnycake Peach Cobbler

Cornmeal Buttermilk Biscuits

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 stick cold butter, diced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Use your fingers to blend in the butter.  Combine the egg, buttermilk and honey, then add to the flour mixture.  Form into 6-8 biscuits and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden.

Sweetened Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Make the whipped cream by beating the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla until peaks form. 

Split open the warm biscuits, top with peaches and sweetened whipped cream.

5 Comments

Filed under Food, Local Agriculture, Recipes, Sustainable Living, What's for Supper?

Sugar on Snow

I took advantage of the fluffy, sparkling snow to make our version of “Sugar on Snow”.  When I was little, we would wait for just the right fluffy snow, put bowls outside to catch it, and then we’d eat the snow with warm maple syrup on top, just like an ice cream sundae. 

The process is simple.  Put bowls outside to fill with snow (in a safe place!) or scoop up some clean, fresh snow.

sugar-on-snow-0021

Pour maple syrup over the snow.  Enjoy!

sugar-on-snow-003

You can vary the recipe by using chocolate syrup, fruit sauce, or even juice.  I particulary liked lemonade on snow when I was little.

At the creamery at our farm market, we’ve continued the sugar on snow tradition by offering a “Sugar on Snow” sundae, vanilla frozen custard with our own maple syrup, whipped cream and a cherry.  We have a few customers, traditional New Englanders, who love this sundae.

I just recently learned that some people heat the maple syrup to the soft ball stage and then pour it into the snow to make a candy, but I’ve never tried it.  I might try making that in the future, but I know it could never compete with Ed’s dad’s real maple sugar candy.

5 Comments

Filed under Food, Outside, Recipes, What's for Supper?

Butternut Squash (or Pumpkin) Cheesecake

Last year, I had a piece of pumpkin cheesecake for the first time, and it was delicious! It got me thinking, if butternut squash pie is so good, I bet I could make a fabulous butternut squash cheesecake! I searched and found a bunch of pumpkin cheesecake recipes, then modified them, added a ginger snap crust instead of a graham cracker crust, and added extra spice.  There was a lot of discussion about how to keep the cheesecake from cracking.  My reaction: Get over it! It will taste good if it cracks anyway, so stop stressing.  My mom’s famous, delicious cheesecake that she makes for every holiday always cracks, but she tops it with cherries, blueberries or raspberries and everyone loves it.

The only drawback that I see to this recipe is that you have to use a food processor to crush the cookies (although you could do that in a big plastic bag with a rolling pin) and puree the squash, and then use the stand mixer to make the filling.  But for something that I’ll only make once or twice a year, I guess the energy is worth it.

Butternut Squash Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

For the crust

  • 1 1/2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs (use the food processor to make them)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl, then press into the bottom of a 9″ spring-form pan.  Bake 10-12 minutes.

For the filling

  • 4 packages cream cheese (8 oz.), room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup butternut squash puree (if you want, substitute with pumpkin or any other winter squash)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature

Beat cream cheese and sugar on low speed in a stand mixer until smooth.  Blend in flour.  Add squash, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and salt and beat until smooth.  Add eggs one at a time.  Pour into crust and smooth out the top.  Reduce heat to 300°F and bake 60 minutes.  Turn off the oven and let cool for 1 hour in the oven.  Then transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 4 hours.  To serve, remove the sides from the pan, slice and garnish with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

12 Comments

Filed under Food, Local Agriculture, Recipes

Strawberries and Cream

When I was growing up, the strawberries were always my favorite part of strawberry shortcake.  I especially liked the bright red, sweet juice and would often eat the sliced berries by themselves, maybe with some whipped cream.  Here’s how I relive those desserts now.  It’s easy enough for an afternoon snack, a weekend breakfast, or an elegant dessert. 

Juicy Strawberries

Hull 1 quart of strawberries and place them in a nonreactive bowl.  Add a teaspoon or two of sugar, just to start releasing the juices.  Mash the berries with a berry masher or a potato masher (just not plastic, I broke one that way).  Don’t cut them up on a cutting board because you lose all of the juice to it.  Cover and let sit for a few hours, or as long as you can wait, at room temperature.  Spoon berries and juice into a pretty wine glass or a clear bowl and top with whipped cream or ice cream.

Sweetened Whipped Cream

Whip 1 cup heavy cream and 2 Tbsp powdered sugar in a mixer or by hand until soft peaks form.  Add a few drops of vanilla extract and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.

Leave a comment

Filed under Food, Local Agriculture, Recipes, Sustainable Living