Strawberries: Here’s to a berry good season

Feels like strawberry fields forever across Ontario these days. With more day-neutral berries being planted, our once-brief season now stretches until fall. But the bulk of these ripe, sun-warmed berries will be harvested in the next month, so don’t delay in picking up a basket or heading to a farm to pick your own.

With the arrival of our favourite berry, let the party begin with Strawberry Mojitos as you whip up a pitcher of berries puréed with lime, white rum and muddled mint leaves from the garden.

Power up summer breakfasts with scrumptious Strawberry Oatmeal Pancakes, made with satisfying oats flecked with diced berries to keep them sweet and moist.

You’ll love our new twist on another old favourite – Berry and Bacon Grilled Cheese sandwiches. Sweet, salty and smoky with a touch of tangy Balsamic, you’d better keep the pan hot for seconds.

Strawberry Lemon Cream Shots is the quickest, easiest dessert ever for a crowd. Buy some lemon curd, cut strawberries into shot glasses, fold curd into whipped cream and spoon over berries. Repeat.

Now raise a sweet toast to summer, and to all the fresh local fruits and vegetables about to come our way.

RECIPES

Strawberry Mojitos

Pitcher drinks are a fantastic way to greet friends and family on a summer day. This mojito-inspired recipe is infused with sweet, juicy Ontario strawberries and mint.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Refrigeration Time: 2 hours

4-1/2 cups (1.125 L) chopped Ontario Strawberries
3/4 cup (175 mL) granulated sugar
6 tbsp (90 mL) fresh lime juice
1/2 cup (125 mL) firmly packed fresh Ontario Mint Leaves
2-1/2 cups (625 mL) chilled club soda
3/4 cup (175 mL) chilled white rum
Ice cubes
Ontario Mint Sprigs
Whole Ontario Strawberries

In blender, purée together chopped strawberries, sugar and lime juice; transfer to large container. In glass measuring cup, muddle mint leaves with handle of wooden spoon or muddler for several minutes, crushing to release its aroma; stir into strawberry mixture. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.

Just before serving, add 1/2 cup (125 mL) of the club soda to strawberry mixture; strain through fine sieve into serving pitcher, discarding the pulp. Stir in remaining club soda and rum. Place ice cubes into each glass; fill with strawberry mojito. Garnish with mint and strawberry.

Tip: To make strawberry and mint ice cubes, add one small strawberry and mint leaf to each ice cube compartment; fill with water and freeze.

Strawberry Oatmeal Pancakes

Strawberries add a burst of flavour and moistness to these very tasty and satisfying pancakes. Serve with more juicy sweet berries and drizzle of maple syrup.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Standing Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: about 6 minutes per batch

1-1/4 cups (300 mL) buttermilk
1 cup (250 mL) large-flaked rolled oats
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) each baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
2 Ontario Eggs
2 tbsp (25 mL) Ontario Maple Syrup
2 tbsp (25 mL) vegetable oil (approx)
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
1 cup (250 mL) diced Ontario Strawberries
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) sliced Ontario Strawberries

In large bowl, combine buttermilk with oats; let stand for 10 minutes.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; stir into oat mixture. In small bowl, whisk together eggs, maple syrup, oil and vanilla. Stir into oat mixture. Gently stir in diced strawberries.

Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Brush with thin layer of oil. For each pancake, drop 1/4 cup (50 mL) batter onto skillet and cook for 4 minutes or until edges are dry and bottoms are golden. Flip and cook for 2 minutes or until golden and puffed. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing with oil between batches and adjusting heat as necessary. Serve topped with sliced strawberries.

Berry & Bacon Grilled Cheese

Who can resist a grilled cheese sandwich with smoked Cheddar and bacon, and topped with thick slices of sweet Ontario berries?
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Grilling Time: 6 minutes

4 slices multi-grain bread
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) vegetable oil
1 cup (250 mL) shredded Ontario Smoked Cheddar or Old Cheddar (about 4 oz/125 g)
4 slices cooked bacon
1 cup (250 mL) thickly sliced Ontario Strawberries
1 tbsp (15 mL) balsamic glaze
Freshly ground black pepper

Brush one side of each slice of bread with oil; place oiled side down on work surface. Sprinkle 2 of the bread slices with 1/4 cup (50 mL) of the cheese each; top with bacon, strawberries, balsamic glaze, pepper to taste and remaining cheese. Top with remaining slices of bread, oiled side up.

Place on grill over medium heat; close lid and grill for 3 minutes per side or until toasted. Cut in half.

Tips: Use an oval loaf of multi-grain bread with slices that are just under 1/2-inch (1 cm) thick and about 7- inches (18 cm) long.
Grill indoors on a grill pan, over medium heat.
Instead of bacon, use 4 slices of cooked Ontario Peameal Bacon.

Strawberry Lemon Cream Shots

For a summertime crowd-pleaser, serve juicy sweet berries, topped with lemon cream – quick, easy and yummy!
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Refrigeration Time: 2 to 6 hours
Serves 12

1-1/2 cups (375 mL) diced Ontario Strawberries
1 tsp (5 mL) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (75 mL) whipping cream (35%)
1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla
1/4 cup (50 mL) lemon curd
4 tsp (20 mL) toasted unsweetened coconut

In small bowl, combine strawberries with sugar; spoon into twelve 2 oz (60 mL) shot glasses.

In chilled medium bowl, and using electric mixer, beat cream and vanilla until stiff.

Fold in lemon curd until combined. Spoon onto strawberries. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until chilled (or up to 6 hours). Garnish with coconut.

Tips: Look for lemon curd in the jam section at most supermarkets.
Double or triple this recipe to suit the size of your crowd.

source: foodlandontario

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