Tag Archives: Strawberries

Gelato alla Fragola (Strawberry Ice Cream)

12 Jul

Some say that strawberry ice cream is the most popular of fruit-flavored ice creams: fresh, flavorful and a perfect food to make desserts delicious and colorful. The main ingredient can be fresh cream only,  or a blend of cream and yogurt, which is certainly lighter. The use of fresh strawberries makes your gelato tastier and more fragrant, but if fresh strawberries are not available, you can use frozen ones. Strawberry ice cream usually attracts children’s attention because of its intense color and aroma. Homemade strawberry ice cream is a nutritious snack, rich in vitamins, to serve to your children.

STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM
Preparation time: 18 min.      Cooling time: 4 hours     Servings: 4

Gelato alle Fragole
INGREDIENTS
60 g (scant ⅓ cup) granulated sugar
6 tablespoons water
280 g (10 oz) strawberries
300 ml (1 ¼ cups) fresh cream
70 g (scant 1 cup) powdered sugar

PROCEDURE
1. In a saucepan over low heat dissolve granulated sugar in water.  Cook for a few minutes until sugar is dissolved and syrup prepared. Turn off the heat and allow to cool completely
2. In a food processor, blend the strawberries and pass through a sieve to remove seeds
3. Mix the strawberry puree to obtain a syrup. Set aside
4. If you have an ice cream maker, pour in the strawberry puree, cream and powdered sugar, and follow the instructions. Otherwise, whip the cream with powdered sugar.
Fold together strawberry puree with the whipped cream, stirring gently with a spatula
6. Place in a suitable container and freeze for at least four hours.

Note:  You can substitute half of the amount of cream with whole milk yogurt. This  recipe makes your ice cream lighter and of course with fewer calories. – Paola

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Confettura di Fragole (Strawberry Jam)

2 Jun

Italian markets are now brimming with colorful and tasty strawberries, the symbol of spring and… la fragranza per eccellenza!  Strawberries are an ancient fruit; the Greeks and Romans enjoyed them because of their sweet smell and aroma.  Actually, strawberries are a false fruit, they are the fleshy receptacle containing the real fruit, ie the yellow seeds on the surface.  Strawberries are very healthy, rich in vitamin C, they also contain moderate amounts of vitamin A, B1 and B2.  They have tonic, re-mineralizing, purifying, detoxifying properties, and also good in a weight-loss diet.  They are one of the tastier and more versatile fruits found both in savory and sweet recipes.  Have you ever tried strawberries with balsamic vinegar?  The vinegar truly enhances their flavor!  Spring is also the perfect season for preparing strawberry jam, a multipurpose ingredient for many sweets (there is nothing better than an homemade crostata http://passionandcooking.com/2012/10/06/crostata-di-marmellata-jam-pie/ with strawberry jam), an ideal topping for spreading on bread or brioche for breakfast or a tasty condiment for goat cheese!  This jam is soft, spreadable and delicious!

CONFETTURA DI FRAGOLE (STRAWBERRY JAM)
Preparation time: 60 minutes + 40 minutes canning

Confettura di Fragole
INGREDIENTS
1500 g (3 pounds and 5 oz) fresh strawberries
700 g (3 ⅓ cups) sugar
Juice of one lemon

DIRECTIONS
1. Wash strawberries under running water and dry with paper towels
2. Remove the green leaves and cut into pieces
3. In a large saucepan, combine the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice. Bring slowly to the boil over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.  Skim the foam.  Cover and let cook over low heat for 45-50 minutes, stirring often.  Remove the cover and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens.  When jam becomes quite dense, stir constantly to prevent sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. This recipe prepares approx. 1200 g (less than 3 pounds) jam (3 jars).  Good jam should cook until the temperature reaches 220-222°F/104-105°C on a candy thermometer.  If you don’t have a candy thermometer, use this test: Place a small amount of jam on a spoon and pour back sideways into the pan.  At first it will be liquid, then later two separate drops will form on the spoon. The jam is ready to be removed from the heat when it falls off the spoon as a single drop. You can store the jam in jars in the refrigerator for two weeks. However if you prefer to keep it longer, you should preserve it, using for example the following canning method
4. For canning, use previously sterilized jars and new caps.  Pour warm jam in hot jars and fill them up leaving a gap of 1 cm (½ in).  Seal and turn them upside down for about 10 minutes to create the vacuum.  Put the jars in a large pan, cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove the jars from the pan and store in a cool and dark place.

Note: When you purchase strawberries choose ones that have uniformly red color but not too dark, because otherwise they are too ripe.  Furthermore it is important that they do not have green or white spots, indicating that they are immature.  Strawberry jam requires a longer cooking time than other jams because strawberries contain little pectin, a natural fiber that is used as a thickening agent.  -Paola

Torta di Fragole (Strawberry Tart)

4 May

This delicious and fresh strawberry tart is prepared with an almond-flavored dough (pasta frolla), filled with custard and then decorated with fresh strawberries for a tasty and colorful touch. It is a water-mouthing dessert to serve on a special occasion such as the Mother’s Day! But this is a classic for any other occasion too, such as a birthday party or a dinner with friends. The preparation of this tart is not difficult, but it requires a bit of patience and some creativity in decorating. The look and the taste are worth it! May  12th will be Mother’s Day in most countries, and we like to celebrate this special day by preparing something special. Mother’s Day actually has pagan origins and dates back to ancient times. Even the Greeks and the Romans dedicated one day each year to their parent. In Italy the first celebration was in Assisi in 1957, and since then it has been in our calendar on the second Sunday of May. This day is a very special day, all mothers should be surrounded by love, attention and gratitude, and of course delicious food!

TORTA DI FRAGOLE (STRAWBERRY TART)
Preparation time: 90 minutes           Crust cooking time: 40 minutes       Servings: 8

Torta fragole fetta

INGREDIENTS
Pasta Frolla
250 g flour (200 g 1 ¼  cups all purpose flour  + 50 g ⅓ cup potato starch)
100 g (⅔ cup) roasted almonds
8 g  (1 heaping teaspoon) baking powder
130 g  (⅔ cup) sugar
140 g (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk
The grated rind of half a lemon
dried beans or other dried legumes (about 1 ½ cups)

Custard
500 ml (2 cups) whole milk
1 whole vanilla bean
6 egg yolks `
150 g (¾ cup) sugar
50 g (⅓ cup) potato starch
500 g (18 oz) fresh strawberries

Gelatin
230 ml (1 cup) water
20 ml (1 heaping tablespoon) lemon
4 tablespoons of sugar
1 packet of cake gelatin (like Tortagel)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 170 °C – 180 °C (350 °F)
1. Toast the almonds for a few minutes in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Cool them and pulverize them in a food processor until you reach the consistence of flour
2. To prepare the pasta frolla (pie dough), mix the flour, almond flour, baking powder, sugar and lemon zest a medium size bowl. Cream the butter with an electric mixer in a separate bowl. Stir into the butter, the eggs and all dry ingredients. Knead the dough by hand until it forms a homogeneous ball. Remember to manipulate the dough as little as possible. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and leave it to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes
3. While the dough is resting in a refrigerator, prepare the custard. In a large saucepan, place the vanilla bean in the milk and bring to boil. Remove from heat and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes; remove the vanilla pod from the milk. In a bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar with a whisk or an electric mixer until frothy. Mix in the starch a little bit at a time. Add 160 ml (⅔ cup) of the cooled milk stirring continuously with a whisk. Pour the egg mixture and the milk back into the saucepan with the remaining milk. Bring to boil, cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Lower the heat (medium-low) and continue to beat with a whisk for 3-4 minutes until the mixture thickens. Turn off the heat and let it cool. Pour the cream into a glass bowl. To avoid formation of a “film” while the cream is cooling, lay a disk of plastic wrap directly on the surface
4. Once the dough has rested, on a lightly floured board, roll (or gently pat the pastry dough directly into the pan) the pastry dough to 6 mm (about ¼ in) thickness, to line the bottom and sides of a 24-25 cm (10 in) spring form pan.  The edge should have a slightly thicker layer of pastry than the bottom.  Prick the pastry bottom with the tines of a fork (four or five times is sufficient). Cover with a disk of baking paper of diameter slightly larger than the tart, fill with dried beans and cook for approx. 25 minutes. Then remove the beans by lifting the edges of the paper. Continue cooking for  about 15 minutes so that the dough dries out. Cool on a wire rack
5. While the crust cools, clean the strawberries by removing the green leaves and washing them quickly under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels and cut them in halves or into slices of about 2-3 mm (⅛ in). Transfer the crust onto a serving plate, fill it with custard and decorate with strawberries
6. For the gelatin, place 230 ml (about 1 cup) water in a sauce pan, add the filtered lemon juice,  the gelatin powder and sugar. Mix together all the ingredients with a whisk, bring to  boil and cook for 2 minutes. Allow the gelatin to cool, stirring a few times for about 2 minutes, then pour it over the entire cake
7. Put the strawberry tart to cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Note: Traditionally the pasta frolla crust is quite hard.  I prefer a tender, fluffy crust.  My recipe calls for starch,  baking powder (a leavening agent) and creaming the butter; all contribute to the dough’s lighter texture. -Paola

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