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by Heather Harris Brady

I came up with this recipe when I was trying to get around using a pie glaze with artificial red dye. I try to avoid the artificial dyes whenever I can, and I was thinking of all the naturally red things I’d made when I hit upon hibiscus punch. The dried flowers give off a beautiful red color and a nice faint floral note that accents the strawberries.

If you have trouble finding the dried flowers in your grocery store any Mexican/latino market should have them. I included a rhubarb cream layer at the bottom of this pie, but if you want to make it entirely with strawberries you can. This is a refrigerator pie, so it’s great for the hot days when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen.

Strawberry-Hibiscus Pie, Makes one 9″ pie

One crumb pie crust (storebought or made with vanilla wafers)

  • For the bottom layer:
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 c. diced rhubarb
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c. heavy cream
  • 1 pkg. unflavored gelatin, soaked in 1/4 c. cold water
  • For the glaze:
  • 1 c. dried hibiscus flowers (also called Jamaica flowers)
  • 2 c. water
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 pkg. unflavored gelatin
  • 1-1/2 quarts fresh local strawberries, cleaned and sliced in half

Make the hibiscus water: Combine the flowers and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then set aside to steep for an hour.

Strain the flowers out with a fine strainer. Reserve 1/3 c. of the water and set it all aside.

Combine the 1/2 c. water and 1/2 c. sugar in a saucepan. Poach your rhubarb pieces over medium heat.

When they are just tender (about 8-10 minutes), take them off the heat.

Add the hibiscus water you reserved earlier, for color, and the soaked gelatin. Let cool to room temperature.

Beat the cream to soft peaks, then beat in the cream cheese.

Fold in the rhubarb mixture…

…and turn it all into the pie shell. Refrigerate until the bottom layer is set (at least an hour).

When you’re ready to finish the pie stir one package of unflavored gelatin into 1/2 c. of the hibiscus water. Heat just until it’s dissolved and stir it back into the rest.

Put your hibiscus glaze into the refrigerator until it’s barely started to set.

Arrange your sliced strawberries over the bottom. I start with one layer and then start tucking them in from there.

Spoon the hibiscus glaze over the top. I did one layer of glaze, let it set in the refrigerator, and then touched it up with a second layer.

Refrigerate until the glaze is set and serve.

This pie keeps nicely in the refrigerator for up to four days.


Four years ago: Seeded Crackers
Three years ago: Strawberry Sorbet
Two years ago: Sopapillas
One year ago:  Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding


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by Heather Harris Brady

Guess who! I know, right? It’s been crazy, but I’ve come out on the other side of two graduation parties for my son and lots of other parties for graduating friends and family. I made most of the boy’s party food myself (with help from the aunts!), and I may get around to posting come menus and quantities. But not today my friends. Because today, while it’s still rhubarb season, you have to try this pie.

It is, in real life, the crazy red of the photo. It’s also crazy-good, and I’m not even that much of a pie person. There’s strawberries, raspberries and then a rhubarb filling holding it all together. It’s also no-bake, so if it’s hot where you are and you don’t have air conditioning either – you’re welcome!

I made this one with sugarfree raspberry gelatin, but you could sub in unflavored gelatin if you like. The redder your rhubarb the prettier the filling. If you have a dad in your life that loves pie, this would be a good choice (hint, hint).

Rhuberry Pie, Makes one 9″ deep dish pie

  • 3 c. diced rhubarb (1″ dice)
  • 1-1/4 c. water
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 box of sugar-free raspberry gelatin, or one packet unflavored gelatin
  • 1-1/2 c. fresh sliced strawberries
  • 1-1/2 c. fresh raspberries, washed and picked over
  • 1 graham cracker pie crust (9″ deep dish) (or sub in a GF crumb crust)
  • 1 c. heavy whipping cream

Combine the rhubarb, sugar and water in a saucepan.

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Simmer for about 8-10 minutes, until the rhubarb is just barely tender. Take out some of the liquid (about 1/2 c.) and stir the gelatin into it.

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Remove it from the heat.

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Fold the dissolved gelatin, strawberries and raspberries back in. Let it sit for a few minutes so the fresh berries can poach a tiny bit. Reserve 1/2 c. of the liquid. Put the rest of the filling in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, until it just starts to thicken.

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Pile the cooled filling into the pie shell. Cover the pie lightly and return it to the refrigerator to set completely. You can cut it in a couple hours, but if you can let it sit overnight you’ll get the cleanest slices.

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Beat the cream to soft peaks, then beat in the reserved liquid. It will stabilize the cream and turn it a lovely pink.

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Refrigerate the cream (covered) until you’re ready to serve the pie.

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Serve each slice cold with a dollop of cream. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

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Three years ago: Chocolate Eclairs
Two years ago: Michigan Fruit Pie
One year ago: English Muffins


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by Heather Harris Brady

Somehow I have found myself the mom of a high school senior, so we’ve been trying to cram some college visits in this summer – hence the lack of posts last week. I know, if I was prepared I could schedule some ahead of time. I aspire to that level of blogging someday 😉 But hey, I did get my new camera battery charger so yay! Better photos ahead.

To make it up to you here’s a pretty strawberry torte. The layers are lemony, soft yet firm enough to stand up to the weight of the berries. Despite it’s glamorous appearance, it goes together pretty quickly and you don’t have to have the oven on for long.

Strawberry Lemon Torte, Makes one 8″ torte

  • 1/2 c. soft butter
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • Two eggs, separated
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 t. fresh lemon zest
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 c. almond flour
  • 2-1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 c. greek yogurt
  • 1-1/2 quarts fresh berries, washed and cleaned
  • 6 c. stabilized whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly grease two 8″ round pans. Cream the butter and sugar together.

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Add the egg yolks and flavorings. (I’m using farm fresh eggs here, which give you the amazing yellow color.)

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Beat in the dry ingredients.

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Then stir in the yogurt. Whip the egg whites to soft peaks, and fold those in.

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Spread the batter in the pans.

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Bake for about 15 minutes, until the centers are firm.

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I like to let them steam in the pans for a few minutes, before I turn them out on racks.

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Put the first layer on a cake plate and top it with a layer of berries. Fill gaps with smaller berries.

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Then top it with a layer of cream.

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Second layer, rest of the berries.

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Cover it all with the rest of the cream.

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Chill thoroughly before serving.

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Store any leftovers in the refrigerator, lightly covered.


Two years ago: Strawberry Cookie Cones
One year ago: Easy No-Bake Raspberry Pie

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by Heather Harris Brady

We’re in the deep red heart of strawberry season here and it’s glorious I tell you, glorious. While I bow to no one in my love of shortcake there are days when it’s just too hot to turn on the oven. On those days I turn to this sorbet instead. While you can make it with a blender and the old metal-bowl-freezer-stir method, if you have a food processor and an ice cream freezer it only takes a few minutes of effort. I’m including a pineapple variation below as well, plus a garnish. If the adults have had a long week, serve this with a shot of rum to drizzle over the top. Bam – instant daiquiri.

Fresh Strawberry Sorbet, Makes four generous servings

  • One quart fresh local strawberries, cleaned (reserve a few for garnish)
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. water

Pineapple Sorbet Variation: Substitute one whole cored and peeled fresh pineapple for strawberries and proceed with the recipe.

Bring the sugar and water to a boil, stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool to lukewarm.

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Put the berries in the food processor and pour the sugar syrup over them. Process until the mixture is smooth.

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Pour it directly into your ice cream freezer and freeze following the directions for your unit.

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Spoon the sorbet into a container and put it in the freezer for an hour so it can ripen and firm up more.

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While the sorbet is in the freezer, make the strawberry fan garnish:

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Cut four or five thin slices down each strawberry, stopping just short of the top. Then press on the stem area to fan them out.

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Scoop the sorbet into serving dishes. Garnish each with a strawberry fan and a mint leaf if you like. (This is pineapple mint from my patch in the yard.)

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One year ago: The Care & Keeping of Strawberries

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by Heather Harris Brady

This is another nice dessert that you can put together in under 15 minutes if you have everything on hand. It’s a variation on my aunt”s Blueberry Dessert, which has a cultlike following in our neck of the woods. I’ve updated it for spring with fresh strawberries. You could easily make this gluten-free by substituting GF crumbs in for the vanilla wafers. It gives you that great cheesecake flavor in a much lighter form.

Layered Strawberry Pineapple Cheesecake, Makes on 8″ pan

3 cups vanilla wafers, crushed (you could use graham crackers too)

3 T. melted butter

1 8 oz. pkg. 1/3 less fat cream cheese

1 pt. heavy whipping cream

1/3 c. granulated sugar

1 t. lemon extract

1 large can crushed pineapple, well-drained

1 quart strawberries, cleaned, washed and sliced

Mix the vanilla wafer crumbs with the butter and press 1/2 of them into the bottom of the pan.

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Add the sugar to the heavy cream and whip just beyond the soft peak stage. Add the cream cheese in several large pieces and beat until combined. Beat in the lemon extract.

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Spoon half of  pineapple over the crumbs.

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Cover it with half of the cream cheese, followed by the strawberries.

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Reverse, another layer of cheesecake, then pineapple. Press the pineapple into the cheesecake with the back of a spoon and top with the rest of the crumbs.

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Chill for several hours, preferably overnight, before cutting into squares. Serve cold.

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One year ago: Flour Tortillas

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by Heather Harris-Brady

Every year when I pull out Beatrice Ojakangas’ Scandinavian Baking Book to make my Christmas cookies I read her recipe for strawberry cones as the snow is piling up outside. Someday, I say to myself, someday these will be mine. Well, finally that day came.

This is one of those over-the-top recipes that I like to imagine Daisy having for tea in Gatsby’s garden. Crispy, buttery cones are wrapped around fresh berries and whipped cream. You have to assemble these right before you serve them, but you could put everything out and let your guests have the fun of filling them. If you stabilize the cream it can wait for you in the fridge.

Strawberry Cones, Makes about 16 Cones

For the filling:
1 quart fresh, local strawberries – cleaned and sliced
1 pint cream, whipped

1/2 c. butter, room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. flour
2 egg whites
1 t. vanilla

Cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy.

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Add the vanilla, then the flour. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks, and fold into the batter.

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Heat the oven to 400 and find a clean bottle or two with a neck around 1″ wide. Lightly grease two cookies sheets and put one teaspoon of batter in the corner of each sheet. Spread it out into a 3″ circle. It should be very thin (nearly showing the pan underneath) and as even as possible.

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Bake for five-six minutes. The edges will be golden brown.

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Lift one of the cookies off the sheet and bend it into a cone shape. Place it into the neck of the bottle to cool. In a few seconds you’ll be able to remove it. As you work the cookies will cool from the outside in, if they get too stiff to bend just return them to the oven for a few seconds. You have about three-four minutes to do the whole sheet before they harden – at least I did in my 75-degree kitchen.

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Your first few might a little large and lopsided (mine were) but as you get the hang of it you’ll start turning out delicate little cones. Let them cool completely and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

To serve, place a spoonful of cream in the bottom a cone.

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Fill add either a whole strawberry or slices. I think the slices make them easier to eat. Top with another spoon of cream.

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Plate with additional strawberries and a dusting of powdered sugar.

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