Sunday, 19 June 2011

Marinated Strawberries. Dessert for People Who Don't Like Making Dessert.

Before we do anything, just have a look at how gosh darn pretty these beauties are:

Hello, lovers.

First delightful pint of Ontario strawberries of the season. Check out how I hulled them – as opposed to lopping off the top in a straight cut, I used a small paring knife and effectively scooped out the green tops. This is important to do, as most of the sweetness in the berry is concentrated at the top, where the greens meet the berry. So you want to lose as little of the berry as possible, and focus on just popping out those greens as opposed to losing the whole top quarter of your berry. I hold the strawberry in my left hand, insert the knife into the top of the berry, and then turn the strawberry around (not the knife) until you come full circle. Pull out the greens. Okay, yes, it will take you a little longer. But you get more bang for your buck. And don't they look even prettier prepared that way? Looks are everything.* 

I'm not really a big dessert person, or sweets person in general, actually. I'm not drawn, viscerally, to things like chocolate or cookies in the same way I am to say, pork crackling or nachos. But there is a lot to be said for a delicious bowl of berries, and this recipe is dead easy and has an interesting twist. The twist comes in the form of marinating your strawberries with vinegar and black pepper. Don't freak out. It's really, really good. You can make it well in advance of when you serve it, even the day before, and serve it over ice cream. Or, if you're a dunce cap like me and you FORGET TO SERVE DESSERT when you have your sister over for dinner (see above re not being a big dessert person), you can eat it in the morning, over plain yogurt. It's also good all on its lonesome.

The fruits of my lack of labour.
Strawberries Marinated with Black Pepper and Vinegar

a pint of strawberries, hulled and sliced up (Ontario is best, Ontario organic even better. But I guess only if you live in Ontario. Point is, buy the ones that are grown closest to you. It will make a HUGE difference in taste, and have all kinds of other positive impacts on local farmers and your local economy. Yay local economy!)
2 tbsp of balsamic, red wine, white balsamic, rice, or any kind of vinegar you have kicking around (each one you use will have a bit of a different flavour profile, so try them all! I happened to have an ancient bottle of the oft-used pomegranate-champagne vinegar (?) so I used that for mine. It was lovely. You can really use whatever kind of vinegar you have around, but I'd recommend staying away from plain white vinegar. Might be a bit harsh.)
1 tbsp of sugar (I used brown)
1 tsp of freshly cracked black pepper 

Put your hulled and cut-up strawberries in a bowl. Add the vinegar of your choice, sugar, and black pepper. Stir it all up well. Let the berries macerate, meaning give them some time to soak and release some of their natural juices. The liquid that will collect at the bottom of the bowl is like liquid gold. After at least a couple of hours, longer if you can, spoon these babies, including some of their liquid, over vanilla ice cream for dessert, or over plain yogurt for breakfast. They'd also be delicious on top of pancakes or french toast.

*No, they're not.

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