Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Seductive Strawberries

I have been trying to concentrate and think of a good story or something very witty to write for you this week, but in the immortal words of Johnny in Surf Ninjas “I’ve got nothing.”
I did go strawberry picking on Monday, and then proceeded to eat almost 2 full quarts in 2 days, so my stomach is punishing me for it.  But I couldn’t help it!  The strawberries were so good.  Perfectly ripe, juicy, sweet and in my refrigerator.  I was probably the only person this spring who didn’t mind all the rain we were getting.  The combination of cool rainy days and then warm sun filled ones make for some spectacular strawberries. 
Joe was once again happy that he didn’t have to accompany me on this agricultural adventure.  And I was glad that my raincloud of practicality was not following me around, it allowed me to pick almost 12 pounds of strawberries and an additional 2 pounds of fresh peas.  When I came home I could hardly wait to start eating the berries, but I managed to contain myself until after dinner. 

The combination of sliced strawberries, still warm from the sun, that are so ripe red juice coats your fingers, on top of cold dairy products is unspeakably wonderful.  So if you can, pick a few (or more) quarts - I highly recommend it.  Go on a day after rain, but while it’s sunny.  You will be amazed at the superiority of these berries over anything you could ever get in a supermarket. 
Well, I don’t have a strawberry recipe for you this week.  Sorry.  I did make a rhubarb cake this weekend, and it’s pretty delicious but I apologize for not having any tantalizing pictures of strawberries.  I’ve eaten (or frozen) them all.
Rhubarb Cake
While this bakes, it makes the whole house smell exactly the way freshly made cake should smell.  It is what candles and air fresheners try to achieve.  The cake itself is dense and moist, with a large crumb.  It works very well with mounds of sliced strawberries over it.

5 cups rhubarb, cut fairly small
½ cup butter, softened
1 ¼ cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 2/3 cups white whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup chopped hazelnuts

Heat the oven to 400°.  Grease a 10” spring form pan and set aside. 

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and smooth, about 5 minutes.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, and then mix in the vanilla.  Gradually add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Fold in the rhubarb.  The batter will be very stiff, almost like cookie dough.
Press the batter evenly into the spring form pan, and smooth the top.  Sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts. 

Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the cake is set and it has pulled away from the sides of the pan.  If the cake is browning too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil midway through.

Allow to cool, then remove the band from the pan, and slice and serve. Preferably with super ripe sliced strawberries.


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