Fill your plate with strawberries

Local chefs offer fresh recipes. Troy’s big festival is this weekend.

While thousands of Miami Valley residents are expected to flock to this year’s Troy Strawberry Festival on Saturday and Sunday, there’s no need to wait until then to enjoy this year’s crop of strawberries.

A simple cup of berries topped by whipped cream might do the trick, as would a traditional strawberry pie or shortcake, but we thought it might be fun to get a little creative. We checked in with three area chefs for their take on the summer fruit, requesting they conjure up some out-of-the-box recipes.

Chef Anthony T. Head, a Dayton cooking instructor who goes by the moniker “The People’s Chef,” recommended purchasing organic berries. They should be firm and red and smell wonderful. “Smell is so important when you are selecting strawberries,” he said. “If you can’t smell it, you can’t taste it.”

To get the longest possible use out of the berries in your fridge, he suggested making a strawberry balsamic gastrique, a sweet-and-sour sauce consisting of caramelized sugar and vinegar reduced until it is a tart, sticky syrup. “You can refrigerate it for up to three weeks,” he said.

Diana Alspaugh, a chef for Eurest Services in Dayton, contributed a fish entree. The recipe calls for Arctic char, which is similar to salmon, but Alspaugh said almost any sturdy fish that you can cook on the grill would work well in this recipe.

Chad A. Rieve, executive chef for the Springfield Country Club, tempted us with a strawberry Champagne bisque with mint crème. “We serve it as a dessert soup, garnished with a mint crème and accompanied by some biscotti,” he said. Or, if you’re throwing a party, serve it chilled in shooter glasses.

Prepare all the recipes at once and you’d have yourself a multicourse strawberry feast.

STRAWBERRY BALSAMIC GASTRIQUE

1/4 cup of butter (preferably Irish butter which contains more butterfat)

1 cup balsamic vinegar

1 1/3 cups sugar (brown or superfine)

2 cups halved, fresh, organic strawberries

1 1/3 cups hot water

*Optional: Sprig of rosemary

“Hull” strawberries by removing the green stem or calyx from the top of the berry. Rinse and pat dry and cut into halves. In a medium saucepan on medium to low heat, caramelize sugar by melting butter in pan. Add sugar and stir over heat until sugar melts and starts to brown. Once melted and foamy, add balsamic vinegar to deglaze pan. Add water to rehydrate, add chopped strawberries. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes. Let the gastrique cool, then strain into a jar, cover and refrigerate. Add sprig of rosemary to infuse additional flavor into finished product. Store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. It can be used as a glaze or sauce on its own.

Source: Anthony T. Head

ARCTIC CHAR WITH STRAWBERRIES

2 ounces fresh, capped, halved strawberries

1/8 teaspoon fresh chopped basil

1/8 teaspoon fresh chopped oregano

1/8 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2-3/8 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

5/8 teaspoon bulk salt

5/8 teaspoon fine ground black pepper

2 each frozen (4 ounces) Arctic char fish

2 each fresh cilantro sprigs

2 each fresh, capped, halved strawberries

Puree strawberries in blender. Add herbs, salt, pepper and pepper flakes, then blend thoroughly. Add balsamic vinegar and slowly add olive oil on low speed to make vinaigrette.

Season Arctic char with salt and pepper. (Thaw first in refrigerator.) Grill over medium heat until fish reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees.

Portion Arctic char on each serving dish and ladle with 1 ounce of sauce. Garnish with cilantro and fresh strawberries. (Alternative: May serve with ½ cup of white rice on center of plate. Top with Arctic char and 2 ounces of broccoli and ladle with 1 ounce of sauce. Garnish with cilantro and fresh strawberries.)

Source: Diana Alspaugh

STRAWBERRY CHAMPAGNE BISQUE WITH MINT CRÈME

14 ounces sliced strawberries

5 ounces granulated sugar

1 ounce orange zest

9 ounces dry Champagne

1 vanilla bean, scraped

2 ounces Sprite

1 ounce heavy cream

In a medium stainless steel mixing bowl add sliced strawberries, orange zest, and half of the sugar. Allow to macerate (soak) for 1 hour.

Using a Vita-Mix blender or bar blender add the macerated strawberries, Champagne, vanilla bean, and Sprite. Mix on low for 1 minute then switch to high for 1 more minute. While on high, slowly add the cream and mix for another 20 seconds. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and reserve.

Mint Crème

4 ounces sour cream

2 ounces Grand Marnier

2 tablespoons clover honey

1 ounce buttermilk

4 tablespoons fine minced mint leaves

In a small stainless steel bowl add all of the above ingredients and whisk thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate at least 24 hours for flavors to combine. Place in a squeeze bottle for garnish of the soup.

Simply ladle the soup in a chilled bowl and squeeze out dots of the mint crème for garnish.

Source: Chad Rieve

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