So Berry Good! Strawberry Adventures in Your Kitchen

I originally wrote this article to commemorate the 64th Annual West Virginia Strawberry Festival (May 2005). At the time, I was writing a weekly cooking column for Buckhannon’s local newspaper, New Mountain Tribune, and this was the post for that week. The festival is an annual tradition there and only lasts for five sweet days, but the berries can be enjoyed for much longer. One recipe that was created for the original column ended up in my 2014 book, Bake Knit Sew, so it isn’t in this blog post.

In California and in Ireland, we’ve grown strawberries in our balcony gardens, which makes us choosy about how we use our berries. Provided, we grow two different kinds so some are small alpine size and others are like those in the grocery market.

Strawberry Salad 0092

Maureen’s Strawberry Green Salad

Maureen’s Strawberry Green Salad has the unique distinction of being as quick to prepare as it is to devour. It brings new simplicity to making your own fresh salad dressing.

9 ounces baby spinach or romaine lettuce, clean and dry

1 pint strawberries, washed and sliced

1 small red onion, thinly sliced (optional)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup whole milk

2 tablespoons poppy seeds (optional)

1. In a small mixing bowl, beat the mayonnaise, honey, and vinegar together. While continuing to whisk, gradually add the milk to the mixture. Make sure the ingredients are completely blended then mix in the poppy seeds. Do this as close to serving the salad as possible or refrigerate until used.

2. Place the fresh spinach or romaine greens in a salad bowl. Be sure to break the romaine lettuce slightly so you are not offering guests oversized salad ingredients. Toss the sliced onion in with the lettuce.

3. Spread the strawberry slices in the salad bowl and mix them into the greens.

4. Just prior to serving, whisk the dressing once more then pour over the salad. Toss the salad to make sure the onions, strawberries, and greens are lightly coated with the dressing.

5. Serve chilled. Feel free to offer plain goat cheese and melba toasts to accompany the salad.

Strawberry Drops

Creamy Strawberry Pecan Spread

Creamy Strawberry Pecan Spread is lovely on a warm American biscuit or Irish scone. This recipe also works with frozen strawberries in a pinch. I hope that you agree when you try these recipes when you have your own strawberry adventure.

7 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

2 tablespoons honey

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup strawberries, stemmed and chopped

3 tablespoons chopped pecans

1 apples, cored and sliced

1 pears, cored and sliced

12 to 18 fresh biscuits

1. In a small mixing bowl with a hand-held mixer, beat the cream cheese until it is fluffy.

2. Continue to beat the cream cheese and add the honey and ground ginger. Then mix in the chopped strawberries. Once the ingredients are blended completely, set aside the hand-held mixer and stir all but 1 1/2 teaspoons of the pecans in with the mixture.

3. Spoon the cheese mixture into a chilled serving dish or ramekin. Sprinkle the remaining chopped pecans over the top. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the cheese to set slightly. The spread can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

4. Garnish with the apple and pear slices plus any spare strawberries. Serve with the fresh biscuits (don’t forget spreading knives).

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