Strawberry Time is Here!!

I think as soon as those juicy red berries hit the local scene they are in everyone’s hands to pop into their mouths on their own or in a favourite recipe. Yes I am talking about strawberries!
Most of us wait for months to have local strawberries in our homes and if you’re like me you try to eat them everyday while they are available.
Strawberries remind me of so much, the flood of memories start from when I was a child who was allowed to pick neighbour’s strawberries from their gardens and eat sitting in the fields, while my grandmother was hoping for a few to save for jam or the rest of the family! As a teenager, we thought it was cool for us to go as a group to strawberry fields and pick strawberries for money, only to realize how difficult it was and that we were eating our profits, we gave up too quickly. As an adult I always enjoyed the fresh sweet flavour of fresh Ontario strawberries sliced in my cereal or yogurt or served up slightly sweetened with whipped cream and scones or sponge cake! Now as a mom and food writer I take all these great memories and build more! My children adore strawberries, from picking to cleaning and yes of course eating! And not just as the berries themselves but incorporated into a variety of recipes. They know that the true flavour of our favourite fruit will always come through.
One of the first fruit farms my children went to early on was Springridge farms and they were brought into the fields to see the berries grow and at that time, a few were ready to pick! Oh what joy to see them enjoying the education of where the fruit came from and how to enjoy eating it. Then to walk into the bakery and smell the sweet aromas of the tantalizing baked goods that the amazing team at Springridge bake while kids are jumping up to see what is in the windows to eat. I love this time of year!
A few years have passed and now they seem to be old pros at picking and eating strawberries. We now also have new family members now that have a berry farm in Simcoe, Kent Creek Farms, that extend a welcome for our children to come pick berries and encourage eating and the whole farm experience. Who would not want to be at a farm this time of year? It really is the start of summer and a fruitful time of year. And truly I don’t think that I’ve had a better tasting berry than those here in Ontario that are local and fresh.
To celebrate one of my favourite berries, I asked good foodie friend Jesse Lauzon from Springridge Farm to share some of their tasty treats! I also included my quick strawberry rhubarb pie that I put together this time of year, best part is it can be a pie or crisp! I hope they inspire you to check out local markets and farms this week for a tasty bite of sweet summer. For a great selection of what local is and what there is around be sure to check out Local Food Fest this Sunday June 26th at Ignatius Jesuit Centre from 11am to 5pm.

Fresh Strawberry Cream Pie
This pie has been around Springridge Farm for over 20 years and truly is a favourite for good reason-the strawberries! Easy to make and showcases a double hit of strawberries with fresh berries and jam!

4 oz (125 g) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (125 mL) sour cream
3 tbsp (45 mL) icing sugar
1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla
One 9 inch (23 cm) pie shell, baked and cooled
2 cups (500 mL) fresh Ontario strawberries, hulled and halved
1/3 cup (80 mL) strawberry jam (homemade if you have it)
2 tbsp (30 mL) water

In bowl, using electric mixer beat cream cheese, sour cream, icing sugar and vanilla until smooth and fluffy. Spread evenly into pie shell. Arrange strawberries decoratively on top of filling to cover.

In small saucepan, warm jam and water over medium heat until melted and combined. Brush over berries and spoon remaining over top. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until chilled.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Storage: Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Strawberry Buttermilk Scones
Sneak one of these for breakfast with yogurt and more fresh fruit! These are delicious served warm with butter or try it for dessert with some whipped or Devon cream and more strawberries.

3 cups (750 mL) all purpose flour
1/3 cup (80 mL) granulated sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking soda
3/4 tsp (4 mL) salt
3/4 cup (180 mL) unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup (250 mL) chopped fresh Ontario strawberries
1 cup (250 mL) buttermilk (approx)
Granulated sugar

In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and soda and salt. Using pastry blender cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in strawberries with fork. Drizzle some of the buttermilk over top and using fork, toss mixture around and continue drizzling in buttermilk until ragged dough forms. Turn dough out onto floured surface and divide dough in half. Knead dough gently into 2 rounds about 7 inches (17.5 cm) round. Place rounds on large parchment paper lined baking sheet and cut each into 6 wedges but do not take them apart. Brush top lightly with some buttermilk and sprinkle top with sugar. Bake in centre of 425 F (220 C) oven for about 15 minutes or until lightly golden.

Makes 12 scones.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Pie
This pie is easy to whip together with a frozen pie shell to start! No pie shell? No worries just make it into a crisp and it will be just as tasty. Rhubarb can be tart for some but with the addition of strawberries it makes rhubarb quite a favourite addition to pies and crisps!

3 cups (750 mL) chopped fresh Ontario rhubarb
2 cups (500 mL) halved fresh Ontario strawberries
7 tbsp (105 mL) packed brown sugar
3 tbsp (45 mL) all purpose flour
One 9 inch (23 cm) frozen pie shell, thawed

Crisp Topping:
3/4 cup (180 mL) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (125 mL) packed brown sugar
1/3 cup (80 mL) butter, melted

In bowl, combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar and flour until combined. Pack into pie shell.

Crisp Topping: In small bowl, combine flour, sugar and butter until well moistened and sprinkle over top of fruit. Place pie onto small baking sheet and bake in bottom third of 425 F (220 C) oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 F (190 C) for about 50 minutes or until top is golden brown and filling is bubbly and thickened. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Tip: I make this combination of fruit often and change the amount of sugar from 1/3 cup (80 mL) to 1/2 cup (125 mL) depending on how tart the rhubarb is. If you are sweet fanatic feel free to add more sugar.

Be sure to have the pie on a baking sheet to catch the drips or your oven may be a bit smoky.

To make this combination as a crisp, not a pie-combine the ingredients in an 8 inch (2 L) baking dish and bake at 375 F (190 C) for about 45 minutes or until golden and bubbly.


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