Lets’ continue our summer backyard entertaining series, shall we? By the time the 2nd pick-your-own strawberries adventure happened this June, we were already through strawberry dessert, strawberry pierogies, and generally eating strawberries and (and cream!) for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was time for some experiments to get through the rest. Looking at a huge basil plant in the back yard with its glossy, bright green leaves, an idea hatched. I remembered that I have seen a recipe for a strawberry and basil lemonade with bourbon, another ingredient from clean-your-pantry-shelf list. The loosely adapted recipe follows.
Start with ripe strawberries, and I promise, it will work, everything else is just a matter of personal taste, more sweet or more tart…or more bourbon!
For about 3 drinks (I used small jam jars) I used:
- About 1/2 pound strawberries with green tops removed
- 2/3 cup sugar
- juice from one lemon
- 6 basil leaves, chopped and lightly smashed with a wooden spoon
- 3 oz of bourbon, depending on taste
Puree strawberries in a blender with a bit of water, add a cup of water and heat on the stove until puree boils, add sugar and stir until dissolved. Cool completely. Strain through a mesh sieve (do not discard solids, more on this later!) Chill sirup for at least an hour. In a pitcher, combine syrup, ice water, lemon juice, and basil. Stir. Serve over ice decorated with basil sprig, blooming, if you have it!
As for the solids saved from the puree, I find it irresistible as a sauce for french toasts, used instead of maple syrup. Assuming the strawberries were ripe, you cannot go wrong. Just save little of the puree to dilute, if needed. Would be as good on crepes, too!
Once a year, when the strawberry season is in full swing, we head to Cape Ann in Massachusetts, to our favorite pick-your-own farm. I confess, I only eat strawberries when in season, and when I pick them myself. The entire experience can sustain me for a year. I get the fix of all things strawberry by making the seasonal treats that childhood memories are made of: strawberry pierogies, strawberry sirup for winter tea, and this Polish dessert. Recipe below.
3 tablespoon flour
300g powdered sugar
250g unsalted butter
very ripe strawberries
2 packages ladyfinger cookies
Boil milk and completely cool. Beat eggs with flour and bit of milk. Place milk back on the stove and on low/med heat, pour the egg mixture slowly into milk, constantly stirring, until it boils. Let it cool completely.
Beat butter with powdered sugar in a mixer, and start adding, one spoon at a time, the cooled off egg mixture. Again, let it cool.
Arrange ladyfinger cookies on the bottom and sides of a springform, trimming as needed to fill the smaller gaps. I trim the ends of the side pieces by about and inch, so they stand up easy and evenly. Start filling the springform with above cream and strawberry layers. Decorate with strawberries. Chill for at least two hours to set initially, but it is best enjoyed at room temperature.