Honey-Drizzled Strawberry Ricotta Crostini

Just down the road from where we live, a family-run farm offers wagon rides and u-pick berries all summer long.

Last Saturday, Clara and I slipped away early, before the sun was too high over the strawberry fields, and picked ourselves two big baskets of the sweetest June fruits. The intense heat of this month to date has turned local berries a deep red all the way through and they are as sweet as sweet can be. Just how we like them.

Since I’ve declared this the summer of the spritz, I’ve developed this recipe to spotlight strawberries on the snack table. It’s partly savoury – toast and ricotta – and part sweet – berries and honey – and it’s a tantalizing bite you’ll want to whip up soon and serve at your next aperitivo.

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Sour Cream Panna Cotta with Strawberry Compote

My decision to serve panna cotta at our recent Canada Day party was influenced by a culinary lesson learned in London: the simple goodness of panna cotta should not be discounted in lieu of flashier desserts.

Creamy, light-as-air-panna cotta is scrumptious on its own and even better when served with a seasonal fruit compote. These days I have all the local strawberries I could wish for, both in my backyard garden and at the markets.

Hence a patriotic red and white dessert made the final menu on July 1, but on merits far worthier than colour alone.

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Strawberry Cinnamon Dutch Baby Pancake

Sunday was Father’s Day, as you probably remember, and we spent what was easily the hottest day of the year so far poolside with family.

It was a slow morning before all that, though, and the kids coloured handmade cards for Danny while I whipped up one of his favourite breakfasts – a Dutch Baby. This quick treat also goes by a Bismark, puff pancake or a German pancake and can be likened to a sweet Yorkshire pudding.

It’s long been Danny’s ‘special’ breakfast request, accompanied by seasonal fruit like sautéed apples in fall and sliced peaches in August. Of course, it being strawberry season, I had a flat of berries sitting on the counter, ready for slicing.

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Savouring Strawberry Season – a recipe round-up

On a recent morning ramble, Clara and I found the first wild strawberries, a handful of tiny sweet gems that signaled the start of our glorious berry season. And on a day-trip to the country last Saturday, we saw no less than seven farm stands boasting ‘Fraises du Québec’, and I spent the next hour balancing several quarts of berries on my lap. After all, it’s not a legitimate weekend road trip until you hit up a roadside fruit stand, am I right?

Yes, mid-June is typically when local strawberries hit the markets here in Quebec, and we throw ourselves headlong into making the most of them. Soon the neighborhood U-pick will open its doors and we’ll ride the wagon along the dusty track to fill our baskets and pails with berries.

It’s a sweet season, and we savour the local strawberries in a multitude of ways from salads to ice cream. Even the hulls from the organic berries are rinsed and used to flavour water. Today’s post is a round-up of my favourite strawberry recipes and really showcases the true versatility of this June berry.

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Make-Ahead Steel-Cut Oatmeal with Maple-Stewed Berries

This past week offered the opportunity to actually get outside and tromp around the homestead a bit. Hello Spring!

Among my discoveries, I noticed that the snow melted from the raised beds and small scarlet nubs of rhubarb are pushing through the mulch. The oregano patch is starting to show some green underneath the tangle of brambles and the raspberry canes are finally free of ice. Life is returning.

We’ve ordered our pullet hens from the farm and next weekend we’ll make repairs on the coop. Small brown eggs are synonymous with spring around here and in a few weeks production will start.

Say, if you haven’t toured our homestead yet, why not take a peek? And of course, find the expanded version, with recipes, stories and urban homesteading tips in my recent cookbook.

I’m holding out for local berries and our homegrown raspberries and (so far) have not been tempted by the imports from Mexico. Thankfully I still have a stash of Quebec strawberries and blueberries in the freezer from last summer. Gently stewed with some of this-season’s maple syrup, they make a delicious topping for nutty oatmeal.

Speaking of oatmeal, my favourite variety just became a lot more easily available, thanks to a new do-ahead method that I have been playing with for weeks.
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