Celebrating The Strawberry in Texas
It's springtime in South Texas, which means two things – bluebonnets and Poteet strawberries.
Poteet, which calls itself the "Strawberry Capital of Texas," is about 30 miles south of San Antonio. When you're driving into town, you know you're in the right place when you see the city's water tower. It's shaped like a strawberry.
Every April, Poteet throws a big party – the Poteet Strawberry Festival –, that draws over 100,000 strawberry lovers from all over Texas. In fact, so many people want Poteet strawberries that the demand far exceeds the supply. There are many health benefits to eating strawberries.
Tips on Buying Strawberries
Wherever you buy your berries, it helps to know what to look for. Shop with your nose. Look for the most fragrant berries. Strawberries don't ripen after they're picked, so choose firm, bright red berries. The green cap should be attached. Avoid strawberries that show signs of mildew, bruises, or seepage.
Bigger strawberries aren't necessarily the sweetest. Often, medium or smaller sized berries are more flavorful. Strawberries have countless delectable uses, as these recipes prove. My neighbor Iris gave me this unusual – and delicious – recipe.
Strawberry Chicken Salad
- 1 pint strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried mint)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- Mint leaves (optional, for garnish)
- In a medium bowl, toss the berries with sugar and vinegar; let stand for 30 minutes.
- In a large bowl, mix the oil, mint, and salt until blended. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Chill.
- Just before serving, gently stir in strawberry mixture and almonds.
- Garnish with mint leaves (if desired).
Crepes with Strawberries & Cream
Here's a "restaurant" dessert that will impress your friends and family.
- 1-1/2 cups milk
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 5 tablespoons melted butter, divided
- 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 1 pint strawberries, thinly sliced
- 1 to 2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur (such as Gran Marnier or Cointreau)
- 1/2 pint heavy or whipping cream
- Confectioners' sugar (for garnish)
- In a medium bowl, with wire whisk, beat the milk, flour, salt, eggs, 3 tablespoons of the melted butter, and 1 tablespoon of the sugar until smooth.
- Cover and refrigerate batter at least 1 hour to allow the flour to absorb the liquid. This makes the batter thicker and easier to work with.
- In another medium bowl, combine the strawberries, orange-flavored liqueur, and 2 tablespoons sugar.
- Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes to allow sugar to dissolve and berries to marinate.
- With a pastry brush, brush a nonstick 10-inch skillet with a small amount of the remaining melted butter.
- Heat pan over medium heat just until the butter is bubbling. Be careful not to let the butter scorch.
- Pour a scant 1/4 cup batter into the pan; tilt the pan to evenly coat with the batter.
- Cook the crepe for 2 to 2-1/2 minutes or until top is set and the underside is slightly browned.
- Using a heat-safe rubber spatula, lift up the edge of the crepe to loosen it from the pan; flip the crepe over and cook on the other side about 30 seconds.
- Slip the cooked crepe onto waxed paper. Repeat until all batter is used, stacking crepes with waxed paper between them. You should have 6 crepes. (Note: If you're not using them right away, store the wrapped crepes in the refrigerator up to a week, but let them stand at room temperature for 1 hour before using.)
- In a small bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat the cream with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar until soft peaks form.
- Spoon the whipped cream into a serving bowl.
- Strain the liquid from the marinated strawberries into a small bowl with the remaining melted butter; brush the strawberry liquid on each of the crepes.
- The crepes may be either folded in quarters or rolled like enchiladas. If folded, top each crepe with a portion of the strawberries and whipped cream. If rolled, spread an equal amount of the marinated strawberries slightly off center on each crepe. Then, starting at the side near the berries, roll each crepe into a strawberry-filled tube.
- Top each with whipped cream; Crepes may be dusted with confectioners' sugar, if desired.
- Serve immediately.
A lovely variation on the usual peach or apple cobbler.
- 6 cups strawberries, cleaned and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1-1/3 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 large egg white
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Place the strawberries in a large bowl.
- Combine the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, allspice, and orange zest in another bowl; set aside.
- Position the oven rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Butter a 7x11x1-1/2-inch ovenproof glass baking dish.
- Pour the sugar mixture over the fruit; shake the bowl or gently stir to distribute the dry ingredients.
- Empty into the baking dish, arranging the strawberries to fill in any empty spaces -- Make sure the fruit is level on top.
- Drizzle with lemon juice and dot with the butter.
- To make the biscuit topping, first stir the vanilla into the cream; set aside.
- Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and orange and lemon zest into the bowl of a food processor.
- Pulse the ingredients to blend. Distribute the butter around the bowl. Pulse 4 or 5 times, then process until the mixture forms fine crumbs (8 to 10 seconds). Then pulse 2 or 3 more times.
- Pour the cream into the bowl. Pulse 6 to 8 times or until the mixture begins to form a mass. Don't overprocess.
- Empty the dough onto a well-floured surface; The dough will be wet.
- Using a dough scraper, turn the dough a few times to coat it with flour. Then flour your hands and knead the dough 2 or 3 times, just until the surface is smooth.
- Flatten the dough, and roll or pat into a 10x14-inch rectangle. Don't overwork the dough.
- With a sharp knife, divide the pastry lengthwise into 7 strips.
- Cut 3 of the strips in half across the middle. You should have 6 strips measuring about 7 inches long, and 4 strips about 14 inches long.
- Space the 4 long strips evenly over the fruit in the baking dish.
- Starting slightly off-center, work the 6 shorter strips into a lattice-weave top. There should be spaces between the strips.
- For the glaze, place the egg white and water in a small bowl. Lightly beat with a fork.
- Brush the surface of the dough with the egg wash, then sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake the cobbler for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the juices are bubbly and the top is golden brown.
- Serve warm or within 3 or 4 hours after baking.
- Cover any leftovers with waxed paper, then aluminum foil and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat before serving. Do not freeze.