Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Strawberry Season

Anyone familiar with the east end of Long Island knows what a thrill it is when spring starts to turn into summer. The strawberry fields are abundant with large, sweet, red berries. The signs are all over; "pick your own strawberries here"! Every year we picked baskets full; one for me- one for the basket, two for me- one for the basket until our fingers were red and our bellies were full. Now we live in a more rural mountainous area where strawberry fields are few. But, as soon as I see the season's first berries in the supermarket the memories flood back in.
Strawberries are at their peak here and I can't seem to get enough of them. I've made strawberry preserves, strawberry puree, strawberry ice cream and strawberry tarts so far. You'd think we're going to be able to eat these red orbs all summer, huh? Well, not the case since we have been eating and sharing everything, saving only a few small tid bits in the freezer.
I found a simple low (well, maybe just a little lower) cal Strawberry Meringue Tart in Nick Malgieri's, "Perfect Light Desserts" and just had to try it. "J" usually doesn't like meringue but agreed to give it a try. First up I needed to make a not-too-sweet strawberry puree (not called for in the recipe but, I thought it would enhance the strawberry-ness of the tart). This is super simple; using strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and a little lemon zest. Just reduce down to a jam like consistancy and cool. Now that was easy and you can do this with just about any fruit.
The next component is the Pate Sucree tart shell. Instead of making one large tart I chose to make six small ones. This makes it easier to share therefore, I eat less therefore, less caloric intake if you catch my drift. The dough is then divided among the 3 1/2" tartlet pans, docked, blind baked, and cooled.
The recipe then calls for the meringue to be made. This was probably the easiest and yummiest meringue I ever made (I licked the whisk and bowl since no one was there to stop me!). The directions are to put the eggs, sugar, and pinch of salt over simmering water just until the sugar melts and the mixture is hot (continiously whisking). Using the mixer and whisk attachment; the egg mixture is whisked until risen in volume and almost completely cooled.
Now the fun part. Take the cooled shells spread a layer of puree on the bottom. Arrange sliced or halved cleaned strawberries over the puree, then pile on the meringue (freeform peaks, piped like a beehive or smooth tops). Placed them in a 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes (keep close watch) to give the meringue a golden color. Or if you have a handy dandy torch that works well too.
The result: "J" and the neighbors we very happy with the tart as was I. It is very refreshing and the beloved strawberries are front and center! Maybe next I'll try Strawberry Scones......
What do you do with strawberries?


Mendy said...


Looks great! Welcome to the Heavenly Cake Bakers!

Lois B said...

Beautiful little tarts. I love to slice strawberries with chunks of fresh pineapple. It's my favorite combination of flavors.

Welcome to HCB!