Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sweet Dreams Are Made Of These ... Strawberries!

I've always had a lot to be grateful for in my life. Of course, there's the big things like my health, the parents, DH, Ozzy etc. But often we forget to say "thank you" to The Big Guy for all the little blessings. These days I've got more time, and hence, more opportunity to take stock of my life, and all the little joys I'm surrounded with on a daily basis. So here's a list of some of the itty bitties that don't make a huge impact by themselves in my life, but add them up, and you can see how their positive effect keeps me going with a smile on my face:
  • Watching my favorite TV shows while sitting on a couch that cradles my body just right - it's one of those soft L-shaped ones, where I can curl up on the bend, stretch out my legs, and feel cozy and comforted, being the lazy @ss that I am.
  • Big windows with great views - this one is something that even my Ozzy is grateful for (if cats can ever be grateful! pfffft, Unlikely). Both of us are constantly entertained by the swaying trees, busy squirrels, and do a fair amount of people-watching on a daily basis. No, I don't have a telescope, so I'm not that kind of creepy neighbor, fear not.
  • A decent shower - the water pressure is sooooooo good, dear readers. I'd be really annoyed if it wasn't. If we were not on a "conserve the water!" frame of mind, I could happily stand underneath my running, hot shower for hours.
  • My oh-so-comfy yet pretty gold sandals - they might be Aerosoles, but they're gorgeous. And because they're Aerosoles they're perfectly cushiony and let me walk for miles when I put them on. I couldn't have made it on my Manhattan adventures without them!
  • The GPS in my car. I love it. I can't imagine my life without it. It's opened the world to me. It's helped protect the environment because I no longer have to print sheathes of Mapquest maps for everytime I go somewhere new!
and finally (for now) ...
  • Strawberries - I love living in a part of the world where I can get strawberries mostly all year round. Sure, they're at their best in summer, but the beautiful thing about strawberries is that even when they're not too sweet, you can do a million things with them to turn them into something amazing. I didn't have too many strawberries growing up, so now I'm gorging on them!
Here's a wonderful recipe for using up your fabulous in-season strawberries, courtesy of one of my all-time favorite food bloggers, Deb from Smitten Kitchen. Oh, I can't praise her enough. Hers was one of the very first food blogs I stumbled upon, and who wouldn't be inspired by her?! It was love at first sight for me, folks.

Strawberry Crumble (original Smitten Kitchen recipe using rhubarb can be found here)
Serves 6-8

Click here for printable recipe

For the topping:
1 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Demerara sugar (or Sugar in the Raw)
Zest of 1/2 a lemon (optional - you can replace this vanilla bean)
1/4 pound (1 stick or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
5 cups strawberries, hulled, quartered
Juice of 1/2 lemon (or replace with vanilla extract - I might try that next time)
1/2 cup sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch of salt

1. Heat oven to 375°F. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugars and lemon zest and add the melted butter. Mix with a spatula, then your hands, until small and large clumps form. Refrigerate.

2. In the meantime, prepare filling: Toss strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch and a pinch of salt in a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate, or something similar. (I used an oval dish, because it looks slightly more presentable.)

3. Remove topping from refrigerator and cover fruit thickly and evenly with topping.

4. Place pie plate on a foil-lined baking sheet, and bake until crumble topping is golden brown in places and fruit is bubbling beneath, about 40 to 50 minutes. Serve warm with (what else?!) ... ice-cream!

Verdict: I'd never made a "crumble" before, but really liked it. I skimped on the fruit base a bit (which I shouldn't have), but I've corrected that in the recipe. I also used the zest and juice of one whole lemon, which I thought was too much, as it was competing with the taste of the strawberries. But this is a recipe I'll definitely make again, especially when I go pick my own strawberries sometime soon. And I've got to go hunt around from some decent rhubarb in my neighborhood grocery store - I swear, mine must be the only one in this country that doesn't stock rhubarb at this time of year! So frustrating!

If you thought that was an easy dessert, let me throw an even simpler strawberry dessert your way. That's right folks, today you're getting two for the price of one! Per DH (and yes, he's allowed to have a say in these matters from time to time), this is the best way to have them.

Roasted Strawberry Sauce (gorgeous recipe found on Chez Us - go drool on their site for a bit)

Click here for printable recipe

1 pint strawberries, hulled and halved (leave the small ones whole)

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp sugar, prefer raw

Method: Preheat oven to 250 F. Toss strawberries with balsamic vinegar and sugar. Spread out on a foil-lined baking sheet, in an even layer. Slowly roast them in the oven for about 3 hours, checking on them every 45 mins or so, to stir them around. If serving right away, just pour them over ice-cream or pound cake and devour!

If saving them for later, after roasting, put them in an airtight container containing 1/2 cup of simple sugar syrup (1/4 cup water + 1/4 cup sugar, heated together till sugar dissolves). Refrigerate. Just heat up individual portions in the microwave before you use it as a topping.

Verdict: I've used this recipe 3 times already in the past month. It's an easy dessert option, that puts DH into a gleeful, giggling frame of mind! I just adore the smell that wafts through my house as those strawberries are roasting. And they're sooooo luscious and caramelized after. Plus, by now you know that I love the juxtaposition of hot and cold in my desserts. So if roasting your strawberries has never occurred to you, give it a shot sometime and you'll be blown away.

Both these recipes are going to Happy Cook from My Kitchen Treasures, who is so kindly hosting A Strawberry Feast!


Finla said...

I love the crumble, looking to the pic i am drooling.
Roasted one is a new oone for me, looks delicous.
Thankyou for sending both of the dleicous treats to my event.

Reeni said...

Crumbles are my favorite dessert! I've never made a strawberry one before. It looks so scrumptious!

Cathy said...

Both the desserts look incredible Muneeba. I have an L shaped couch that I love too. Although, my DH laughs because I bury myself under about 7 pillows when I watch tv - you can only see my eyeballs poking out.

Ann said...

Your affection for berries makes me giggle :) I do love them too:)
Oh! I so agree with u on the big window with a great view:) and GPS - I wonder what is this mordern Era taking us to? Can't imagine living independently. Crumble is delectable!

Varsha Vipins said...

That sauce sounds sooo good n unique..!

Pooja said...

Oh both are awesome! Never tried strawberry crumble before! Bet must have tasted delicious!

Creative Classroom Core said...

Strawberries are just coming into season here, so I will be saving this recipe to make soon! Looks great!

unconfidentialcook said...

I've never thought of roasting strawberries--what a great idea! I bet that's just amazing (I'm a huge fan of roasting all vegetables).

Jennifer said...

That looks so good, it is strawberry season here in Oregon and I am dying to make all things berry!

foodcreate said...

Perfect Summer Treat~

Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipe:)

Join our community submit your recipes. Or just stop by Have a Great Day~

Anonymous said...

Wonderful strawberry creations! The crumble looks scrumptious and I just love the idea of a roasted strawberry sauce - putting in on my list to make for sure!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

How delicious! I've never made a strawberry crumble but I can definitely imagine how fantastic it would be.

Kim said...

Both of these desserts are wonderfully unique. They both look and sound delicious.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Oh, yummy! I love strawberries... Both recipes are mouthwatering!



Doppelganger said...

Hmmm if I didn't love you Munee, I'd be jealous! hehe Kidding! But I do love your list of things to be thankful for (I'd add Ozzy in there too! Oh what I wouldn't give to have a pet cat!). Trust me, my couch has been giving me backaches, so I think being thankful for a comfortable one makes purrrfect sense! ;)

The strawberry crumble just sounds so ridiculously easy! But wonderful at the same time! I'm usually stuck with a big boxful of strawberries when the hubbs get them and end up making compote, so this should be a good alternative. The roasted strawberry sauce sounds uh-mazing! But let me confess, I haven't tasted or used Balsamic yet. Yikes!

Jamie said...

Both desserts are gorgeous. I am enjoying every second of strawberry season but I'm the kind of girl who just eats 'em straight from the box or with whipped cream But those roasted berries? Amazing!

BTW we also have huge windows (until our move) that look out over the main street through Nantes and we spend more time watching people (and giggling) than watching TV. Maybe now if I had your couch...

Parita said...

Strawberry is one of my favorite too, loved the crumble and never heard of roasted strawberries before, looks yummy!!

Sara said...

Both look great! The topping on that crumble sounds amazing, I love strawberries.

test it comm said...

That strawberry crumble looks good!

Kerstin said...

I love the idea of a roasted strawberry sauce - it sounds so good and addicting, I can see why you've been making it so often :)

Sophie said...

This is the most lovely strawberry crumble I have ever seen !! I can nearly taste it trough my computer!
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM....delicious! yum!

Malar Gandhi said...

Berries, count me in!! First time here...pretty impressive blog, you got, dear. Love ur blog title...kool!

Anonymous said...

Like you, we indulge in strawberries year round (it's the one fruit my kids will devour). But! I love the fresh (U-pick) strawberry season, only wishing it weren't so dreadfully short. I tend to miss it most years. These beautiful recipes will help me capitalize whether it's strawberry season around here or not!

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Heather S-G said...

I was falling in love with that crumb topping until I saw those roasted strawberries...and just went ga-ga!! Wow, I have to try that, they sound amazing.

Jennifer said...

I LOVE a good crumble!!! Yours look SO good!!!