Friday, June 3, 2011

Balsamic. It's what's for dessert.

I'm not sure who the first guy was to look at a bottle of balsamic and a pint of strawberries and decide to make a dish out of it. Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe he had kitchen organizational skills that would make the Swedish Chef look OCD and, suddenly, he drizzled the balsamic all over his berries instead of all over his greens. Either way...mistake or invention...I don't care. He (or she) was a genious!

What is with my berry revelation? Simple. Today, I got cookin' on my Summer project. (This tells you nothing, I know. But it is part of the background, so humor me...)

Oh, the project isn’t original. In fact, it is shamelessly pilfered from one of my favorite food bloggers, Heidi from 101 Cookbooks.

I am like every other foodie on the planet. I love recipes and cookbooks. But I need to start using them more, so I have set myself a challenge:

Cook at least one recipe from every cookbook I have.

It can be a vegetarian recipe, or, it can be a meat recipe that I veggify. I love, love, love the veggification process.

Like I said. Not original, but YUMMY!

I knew that my first recipe of the project was going to involve a lemon. Partly because I love them and partly because, for the past week, one lonely little organic lemon has graced the inside of my fruit bowl. It was pitiful lookin' in there. And the two grapefruits we put in there with it yesterday were dwarfing him right into citrus envy. So, I needed to put the little guy out of his misery before he shrivelled up in shame and became better suited for cleaning than cooking. And, so, my first recipe was chosen. Something classic and simple that can be made with some of the beautiful local seasonal ingredients available in Sweden right now. From the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home (pg 70): Lemon Tomato Salad. We had it with mashed potatoes, a veggie balls and a simple salad of greens and fennel.

But then, a recipe in the back of the book started to haunt me. How could I pass up the chance to make something with the amazing Swedish strawberries in season right now? So, I opted to show off a little and expand my first project blog. My second recipe was Macerated Balsamic Strawberries. Or, as the Moosewood cookbook calls it, Strawberries Three Ways. (The other two ways involve orange juice and Grand Marnier. Oh yeah...I see a Boozy Berry Shortcake in my cooking future!) I served it over vanilla ice cream.

Want the recipe? I am almost ashamed to admit how easy it is! 1 pint strawberries, 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp balsamic. Mix together and chill for at least 30 minutes, but no more than half a day. I let it steep for about 2 hours. I bet that if you have a cheaper, salad balsamic in your pantry, you can age it a bit by just reducing it on the stove a little to give it some of the "aged" depth. I opted to buy a middle of the line aged balsamic for about $5.00 and it worked fine.

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