Category Archives: strawberry

Heart-healthy panna cotta

It figures I’d start the low-fat, low-sodium posts with a dessert.  Those of you who know me in real life are aware I don’t do deprivation well — particularly when it comes to sweets.  So yes, dessert was the first thing I tried to transform.

The good news is, I think I’m on the right track.  I would almost serve this to guests — ALMOST.  It is still very much a work in progress, but I can assure you of this: it is a welcome substitute for the non-fat yogurt and jam we’ve* been stuck with lately.   I’ve basically started with a low-fat panna cotta recipe, which replaces the typical cream and sugar component of the dessert with low-fat milk and yogurt, and transformed it into something more exotic.  Does it work? Well — as I said before, almost. I would use pineapple or bananas instead of strawberries (or at least saute the strawberries with a little bit of nice balsamic or brown sugar), steep the basil in the coconut milk as opposed to liberally adding slivers of it to the dessert, and would skip the black pepper (which I will not mention in the recipe, of course) in favor of vanilla or toasted coconut.  Beyond that, though, it actually does seem worthy of dessert, which is exactly what I was going for.  If you want to make it a little creamier, you can either use full fat coconut or low / full fat yogurt.  But then you might as well use real cream, no?

If you prefer, you can also use regular milk. I’ve done this as well, and it works. It’s just a little less exciting.

Forgive the photos, which sort of remind me of faux foodie glamour shots. It is 11 pm and my nice camera lacks battery power, so I’ve decided to improvise.

* Err… well, James has. Until yesterday, I had my private stash of Girl Scout Cookies. Shhh, don’t tell!

Low-fat strawberry basil panna cotta

Serves 4.

  • 1 c. low-fat coconut milk
  • 1 c. non-fat greek yogurt (Fage or Skyr are the best)
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin (have yet to try this with agar agar for the vegetarians out there, but if I get around to it, I will report back. If you try it out and it works, leave a comment!)
  • 2 t. honey
  • 3 basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 6 strawberries, cut into small chunks

Sprinkle the gelatin over the coconut milk, and let stand for a couple of minutes minutes.  Heat briefly over a medium-low burner, stirring rapidly, until the gelatin dissolves.  Add the honey, and stir until that also dissolves.  Remove from heat. Stir in basil chunks, and set aside.

Evenly distribute strawberry chunks between four ramekins or small bowls.  Pour coconut milk mixture over the strawberries.  Chill mixture for a couple of hours, or until the mixture has firmed.  Serve cold, either in the ramekins or turned out and topped with some sort of decadent berry sauce (which I have yet to make).

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Filed under coconut, dessert, strawberry, Uncategorized

Strawberry basil lemonade

Perth seems like another lifetime by now.  I think I’ll save my report on Margaret River for later this week, since I have yet to upload the photos from that trip.  At the moment, I want to talk about strawberry basil lemonade, and the three weeks I spent in nuclear camp.

Yes, you read that right.  I am a nuclear physicist, and in an effort to try to figure out important life questions like what the hell I want to do with my life, I occasionally try new things. This was a summer school on nuclear nonproliferation, which covered everything from cold war nuclear hysteria* to what it would be like to be a UN weapons inspector.  It was awesome. So were my fellow students.  Maybe it was the return to dorm life, or the fact that we spent way too much time in the same classroom together, but I haven’t actually had so much fun since I was an undergrad. Perhaps that’s telling.  But I digress.

My point is that I realized I essentially want to save the world, to put it bluntly, and that I’m not the only one with that ambition.  It’s kind of cool to find out there are other people out there who feel this way, and that they’re talented, motivated, and fun to hang out with to boot.

Don’t worry. I won’t get totally serious on you all of a sudden. I plan on finding a job — any job — that gets us to Europe for a couple of years, before we have too many responsibilities.  The world can wait a little while.

So… Where was I? Oh, right. Lemonade.  It has absolutely nothing to do with this post, except that I was making it while I was thinking about career options today, and it sort of got tangled up with all of this in my head.  That and it’s a delicious accompaniment to a day full of making jam and putzing about in the garden.

*30,000 weapons, US / Soviet Union? Really? You could destroy thousands of worlds with that kind of stockpile…

Strawberry basil lemonade

I’m obsessed with lemon + basil at the moment, because I bought this tiny globe basil plant (with mini leaves) and can’t resist using it whenever and wherever I can.  We went strawberry picking on Sunday at a nearby orchard, and I happened to be making jam when I started craving lemonade, so that’s what this particular combination came from.  I sort of mashed up the strawberries and basil and threw it into the lemonade, chunks and all. You can blend it a little more thoroughly, or strain out the pulp, but try it first as is.  I sort of liked the texture.  Make sure your strawberries are ripe and flavorful.

  • 1/2 c. strawberry mash (This consists of ~6 medium-sized strawberries, pressed into a pulp.)
  • Juice from 6 small, juicy lemons
  • ~1 c. simple syrup (Heat about 3/4 c. sugar in 3/4 cup of water until the sugar dissolves, and let cool). Add this to taste — the amount of sugar you need depends on how sweet your strawberries are and what your personal preference is. Make extra simple syrup if you like things on the sweet side.
  • handful of basil, crushed
  • 3-4 cups of water.  This is also to taste, as the amount of juice your lemons produce will vary, and you may prefer a stronger or weaker drink.

Mix all ingredients together. Taste and adjust as required. Strain if you want a smooth drink; otherwise, don’t bother. Enjoy cold, preferrably somewhere sunny and warm.

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Filed under drink, lemon, local, strawberry, Uncategorized

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

Beautiful

I thought I’d share this one while strawberries and rhubarb are still in season. We had a pile of each sitting in our house, wilting in the humidity, and I decided to take matters into my own hands and do something about it before they both went to waste. A good thing, too, given that strawberries were $6 a quart last week, and they weren’t even that tasty.

Compote

I can’t blame them, really — with all this rain, we haven’t managed to actually harvest any of ours before they’ve started rotting. But onto more pleasant things…

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Filed under dessert, local, rhubarb, strawberry, vegan, vegetarian, wine

My first Pav

I think I finally figured out how to get James to eat some fruit.

Pav

Seriously — this is it. Those kiwis? He bought those about three weeks ago. I’m shocked — shocked — that they’re still intact (and tasty). And the strawberries? Leftovers from a cart I bought at TJ’s a whole two days ago. Why I still buy fruit at TJ’s is beyond me — I swear every “fresh” thing that comes from that store goes bad within a few days. But the ones we did manage to salvage were tasty, especially after I glazed them with some passionfruit pulp in syrup that James brought all the way back from Perth.

Pavlova in the oven

So, this is definitely my first pavlova. You can tell because I somehow wasn’t concerned about the fact that the recipe didn’t seem to indicate whether the pan should have a shape of some sort. Just pour it on a sheet pan and go, right? Um… NO. Not unless you like the smell of burning sugar.

Pav burning!

Despite the mishap, though, it turned out pretty well. Mostly, it just didn’t have the body I was hoping for. (Kidding! I’m trying to see the bright side of all the footy going on in our house right now … Cut me some slack?) Ok, seriously, though — use a cake tin lined with parchment paper, so you’ll have a pretty cake-like thing to decorate. Just don’t forget the parchment; you need to flip it upside down to decorate it, and the underside will be spongy, a bit sticky, and almost marshmallow-like:

Pavlicious

Not to mention delicious. And after you’re finished devouring this (decorations and all), you’ll have the energy to make the whole wheat challah I’m working on as I type. Stay tuned? In the meantime, counteract this dessert with Rachael’s awesome bran muffin recipe. Here’s my version, with chunks of marzipan and dried cherries in place of bananas:

Rachael's muffins

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Filed under baking, dessert, kiwi, passion fruit, strawberry