Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer. And strawberries.

Oh, alright. After someone (Murdo) left a comment demanding I "stop resting on [my] Mexico trip laurels," I figured it's about time I stop dreaming about my past in paradise and get right back to the present. Because have you heard the good news? It's summer around these parts, and I mean officially. The solstice has come and gone, the grills have been fired up, and the thunder storms are in full force. (I'm still recovering from my crazy drive home through this evening's storm, which left light posts and split trees strewn about the streets, and ended with a rainbow and a yellow sky and a cool breeze, just like that.)

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My parents' garden is one of my favorite parts of summer, because every time I visit them, there is a new surprise around every corner, sprouting straight from the earth. I can't wait for the vegetables to arrive -- tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, bell peppers, long beans -- to hopefully jolt me out of this cooking rut I've been stuck in and back in the game. But first, of course, there are strawberries.



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Strawberries! They're like jewels, growing right in their backyard, ready for the pickin' and the eatin'. Oh summer. I love you.

We ate them in the form of a tart, after Jenny realized she didn't buy enough strawberries at the store, and then we remembered that oh hey, we can just walk right outside and grab a few from the garden. My dream is to one day live out this exact scenario again, except with lemons. One day, with lemons. Maybe.




I should note that upon tasting the tart's filling with the glaze, my sister Jenny actually squealed and did a jumping dance for about three seconds. It's good stuff, all of it -- the squealing, the strawberries, the tart, the garden, summer. I'm glad Murdo gave me that big poke in the ribs I needed to sit down at the computer and share it with you. Sometimes, that's really all you need. That, and strawberries.



Strawberry-Almond Cream Tart (from Cooking Light)
Jenny made this tart for Father's Day with a few adjustments: She used 8 oz of cream cheese instead of 5, slightly reduced the sugar, and halved the glaze. It was yummy.

Crust:
36 honey graham crackers (9 sheets)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 teaspoons water
Cooking spray

Filling:
2/3 cup (about 5 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Topping:
6 cups small fresh strawberries, hulled and divided
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare crust, place crackers in a food processor; process until crumbly. Add 2 tablespoons sugar, butter, and 4 teaspoons water; pulse just until moist. Place cracker mixture in a 9-inch round removable-bottom tart pan lightly coated with cooking spray, pressing into bottom and up sides of pan to 3/4 inch. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare filling, combine cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, and extracts in a medium bowl; stir until smooth. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over bottom of tart shell.

To prepare topping, place 2 cups strawberries in food processor, and process until smooth. Combine strawberry puree, 2/3 cup sugar, and cornstarch in a small saucepan over medium heat; stir with a whisk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; cook 1 minute. Remove glaze from heat. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Combine the remaining 4 cups strawberries and juice; toss to coat. Arrange berries, bottoms up, in a circular pattern over filling. Spoon half of glaze evenly over berries (reserve remaining glaze for another use). Sprinkle nuts around edge. Cover and chill 3 hours.

Makes 10 servings.
Calories per serving: 235

6 comments:

  1. yay. you're back. beautiful pix as always.

    and a tart that produces such squeals must be a fabu tart indeed.

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  2. I love that you're back! Thanks, Murdo. However, more Mexico stuff is OK with me; I really enjoyed all the wedding info. Seeing the garden pictures, I understand now why your dad and mom are so busy in the summer. Spectacular.

    Mrs. P

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  3. You and Murdo make a good team. :)

    Love hearing about your parents' garden and those strawberry jewels and the tart whose pictures just made my mouth water. Oh, summer. Even with your freaky storms, we love you.

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  4. Welcome back! What a treat it must be to have access to such a thriving garden. That last photo is lovely.

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  5. :D - :D

    lan - yay! thanks. :)

    mrs. p - oh, there will be more mexico, don't worry! their garden is amazing, isn't it? i wish i had inherited their green thumb.

    shanna - yes, summer is great, storms and all. my favorite season by far.

    jenious - thank you! i'd love a garden of my own like that one day, but there's no way i could care for it like they do!

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