Nothing reminds me more of summer than sweet juicy strawberries. During the winter months we all buy the huge berries transported from warmer climes, but nothing beats the flavour of local strawberries picked either from your garden or bought at the farmers market. Be sure they are Manitoban.
Did you know the garden strawberry is a hybrid species first bred in Brittany, in the 1750s, via a cross of wild strawberries from eastern North America and a variety from Chile?
The fruit (which is not a botanical berry) is widely appreciated for its characteristic aroma, bright red colour, juicy texture and sweetness. It is consumed in large quantities, either fresh or in prepared foods such as preserves, fruit juice, pies, ice creams, milkshakes, and chocolates. Be aware of the artificial strawberry aroma widely used in industrial food products.
In the accompanying recipe I have combined two of the greatest flavours that accentuate the sweetness if strawberries, balsamic vinegar and black pepper.
Balsamic and Strawberry Pie
(or use your own favourite crust recipe)
450 g (3 cups) flour
250 g (1/2 lb) cold butter, chopped in cubes
2 egg yolks
90 ml (6 tbsp) ice water
1. Place flour and butter in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles large bread crumbs.
2. Combine the egg and water and add the the flour.
3. Pulse the processor until the dough comes together.
4. Press together lightly by hand, but do not work the dough.
5. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
60 ml (1/4 cup) sugar
900 g (2 lb) fresh strawberries, rinsed and quartered
30 ml (2 tbsp) balsamic vinegar
2 dashes Angostura bitters
180 ml (3/4 cup) brown sugar
45 ml (3 tbsp) cornstarch
A good grind of fresh black pepper
2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) salt
1. Combine strawberries with 45 ml (3 tbsp) of sugar and leave to macerate 30 minutes. Drain.
2. Grate the apple and add to strawberries.
3. Fold in the rest of the ingredients.
4. Pour into pie shell and cover with lattice or solid lid
5. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
6. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with the extra sugar.
7. Bake at 220 C (425 F) for 20 minutes reduce to 190 C (375 F) and bake for 30 minutes.
8. Cool for 2 hours.
Serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.