Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Strung out on Strawberries

I've been having a blast hanging with some rad local-to-CLT foodbloggers over the past month. For lots of reasons.

One, it's a myriad of walks - teachers, photographers, personal chefs, fitness-minded-ers, food writers,  well...maybe we're not all THAT different, but diverse enough that the conversation's pretty awesome. I like to pick brains, and everyone's been AOK with that.

Two, I have no pals, save a couple, that do their own bloggy thang, so I can make nerdy, trite blogger jokes about basements and pajamas and get at LEAST an annoyed eye-roll.

Three, the potlucks we've had so far have been AMAZING, because everyone knows what they're doing in the kitchen x infiniti. And even more awesomely - they're cool with the couple of us that don't eats the meats, and have been schleping vegan and near vegan nosh to the park so that we can all partake.

And since I know that several of the CLTFBs are pretty into bacon and bar-b-que, it's pretty sweet of 'em. At this particular shindig, there were 7 of us and neon-nikon Crosby.

Strawberry Salsa. Hulllll-ooooo. This simple, fresh treatment was my fav of the day (and there were some serious contenders, believe you me). Brought to my mouth via Allison aka WishUponAChef. So good - lime, cilantro, jalapenos and sweet, sweet strawberries. Fantastic.

Check this mother out:

Yes. That's a sicknasty, huge, strawberry cream pie. And yes, I eschewed my summer veganism and had a messy, awesome slice. Thanks Julie!

VEGAN ARTICHOKE DIP ALERT - this was a close second to my stoked tongue. Cheezy, gooey, awesome. Maybe if you're stupendously sweet to Ensley, she'll share the recipe. Maybe she already has! We're talking about doing some super awesome guest posting this summer. Stay tuned, daaahlings.

And then of course Mr. Mathis (sounds like a spy name, amirite?) brought something awesome - sweet potato salad. Hulllll-oooo again, delicious.

(and seriously, I ate the weight of my arm in fresh cherries, thanks to Crosby) 

Friggin awesome fignewtonbrownies - yup -

(Katie, you're a goddess)

And let's not forget the lovely Diana, rockin' some cous cous tabbouleh. Yes. I ate lots.

So why all the 'berries, you ask? A couple of Sundays back was National Strawberry Picking Day - and to commemorate that Holy Day by staining our hands and straining our backs (I know I sound like a cranky old lady here, which I secretly am) we all converged on Miller Farm just over the state line in SC. Place was a bit picked over, but who cares.

6 years? 7? since I last PYO threwdown on some berries. Tomatoes are more my jam, and they're on their way in now. I'll be back.

Still, we got a friggin' gallon of the little, misshapen, tumorous, leftover suckers:

(alright not ALL of them were tumorous, there were a few primo specimens that we'd pick, get all excited over, and show off to each other)

Here's awesomefignewtonbrownie Katie with her haul:

And Julie, rockin' the smaller box and some shade:

Random sky panorama, was a lovely day:

There was no way those little red orbuses were going to last until I cookeried them on Saturday, so I saved a few for fresh noshing and froze the rest. Sunday morning rolls around and I, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, strawberry crazed, went to town on the gallon or so frosty in the freezer. Two things happened:

Strawberry Balsamic Sorbet. Simple, tart, a little watery, but interesting. I basically followed this recipe and tripled the balsamic - next time, I might just double it, as the tartness was almost overwhelming.

More excitingly - check this tart out. She's a looker.

The idea was to do a caprese tart, only with 'berries rather than 'maters. It was pretty awesome. Maybe even very.

Topped with balsamic reduction and some arugula, the feeling was that you we're noshing on your old pals mozz, tomato, basil, garlic, vinegar, greens - and then the strawberry would pop through and surprise!


Strawberry Caprese Tart

sliced, serves 6-8

1 batch garlic-basil pastry for crust (I used this recipe to a T, gotta love Ezra!)
8 ozs fresh mozz, sliced thin
8 fresh or 12 frozen strawberries, sliced thin
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
Large handful fresh arugula

Easy peasy. Set your vinegar assimering in a non-reactive saucepan while you make your pastry - 10 minutes on medium heat should get it nice and syrupy.

Make your pastry - Mr. Poundcake did his in the food processor (GASP) so I did too. Doing it by hand will yield a flakier crust - it's up to you.

Butter a tart pan and roll out your (chilled! an hour! trust me!) dough thin - 1/8 inch or thereabouts. Carefully lift the dough onto the pan, press down, and let the pan cut the edge nicely (mine is sharp enough to do this, and reminds me of that fact every time my fingers get too fiesty with pastry-edge-pressing).

Lay your sliced mozz over your pastry, then your sliced strawberries. The correct term is scattering, I'm told.  Bake for about 30 minutes in a 375f oven, until your cheese is a little browned.

Cool your tart for about 20 minutes before attempting to remove it from your pan. Run a butter knife, gently, around any problem spots, and invert over a large, flat plate. Should loosen easily.

Drizzle that sucker with balsamic and plop a big ol' handful of fresh arugula in the center, and serve.

See you next year, Strawberry Mania! See you next month, HUGE PIG AWWWWWR.



  1. I want to eat every single food item on this page. Bravo CLT food bloggity bloggers.

  2. Thanks love! Gonna have to get you to a potluck one of these days!

  3. that tart looks ridiculously amazing!

  4. @katie - mmmm yes. So glad ya did.

    @Megan - thank you! It was pretty awesome. Salad topping was key, for moi.

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