Since I started eating solid food, strawberry season has been my favorite time of year. My family invariably marked it by going strawberry picking at one of the nearby farms on the east end of Long Island. We would pick enough to overflow our teal colored quart containers, slipping more than a few surreptitiously into our mouths, marking our hands with tell tale seedy red stains. Then we would drive them home, nabbing a few more in the back seat. Those strawberries that survived the ride would be sliced in heart-shaped halves, sprinkled with sugar, and left to macerate. I would eat them swimming in a bowl of heavy cream, and that would be breakfast, lunch and dinner for as long as they lasted (usually less than 24 hours).
Now that I live in New York City, I’ve had to keep a lookout for the berries at farmer’s markets, fruit stands, supermarkets. Strawberries are more ubiquitous here, but their presence is deceiving; many of those enticing red berries lack the tight punch of sweetness and lightly seedy texture I remember from childhood and instead have a watery or even cloyingly sweet flavor. I buy local where I can, but the first time I saw organic berries appear on the shelves in early June, I nabbed them. In some classes we served them whole, in the simple preparation described above. But there is also the option of using them to flavor a delicious (and entertaining) in the bag ice cream. The season is in its final weeks, but there’s no reason not to celebrate by making some strawberry sweets. Here is an inspirational recipe (photos and instruction by Allergic to Salad educator Lauren Lafleur).
STRAWBERRY SUGAR COOKIES
1 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt 2 cups all purpose flour 1/2 cup butter 1/2 cup sugar 1 tsp vanilla 2 eggs For strawberry filling: 2 cups strawberries, sliced 1 whole lemon, juiced 1/4 cup sugar 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and grease a large baking sheet. 2. Combine dry ingredients and whisk together. 3. Combine butter, sugar, and vanilla. Mix until creamy and then add eggs. 4. Stir together all ingredients and shape batter into 1 inch balls. Arrange them on the baking tray about 1 inch apart and flatten with your thumb, leaving a small imprint in the center. 5. Put the tray in the oven and bake 10-12 minutes. 6. While the cookies are baking, prepare strawberry filling. Slice strawberries (or use straws to push out the center--see picture!) and combine with lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat 10-15 minutes, until strawberries have softened and the texture is similar to a sauce. 7. Spoon the strawberry filling into the center of each cookie. Let cool and serve!