Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Recipe of the month: Gratin de fraises

Who doesn't like strawberries?
Is it the color? Is it the sweetness?
Who cares?! Strawberry season is upon us, and I - for one - will gladly indulge in strawberries, especially when they’re ripe off the bush... or whatever you call what strawberries grow on. (Clue: it’s not a vine.)
France is particularly good at strawberries, with one variety that is too tasty for words: the gariguette. It may not look like much because it’s not round and plump. Instead, it’s kind of lanky, the Abe Lincoln of strawberries I guess you could say. And pointed, like the head of Mork from the Planet Ork. And yet it’s got more flavor that two of those Santa strawberries put together.
But whatever your favorite, choose them as ripe as you can get, even if you have to go pick-‘em-yourself. And once you’ve picked them, from the field, the store shelf or the strawberry pot on the back porch, here’s a pretty quick, easy and delicious suggestion of what to do with them.

  • 1 pound (400 g) strawberries
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ c (100 g) powdered sugar
  • 3½ oz (100 g) créme fraiche, which is 1/3 c
  • 1 t natural vanilla extract
  • 3 or 4 mint leaves

- Wash the strawberries and remove the stems. (Don’t ever remove the stems first or water gets inside and waters down the taste.) Cut the largest ones in two, or even three. Distribute them into 4 ovenproof ramekins.
- Whisk the eggs and sugar together until they turn pale yellow. Then stir in the cr me fraîche and vanilla and mix well. Wash the mint leaves and pat them dry, then slice them into fine strips and stir them in.
- Pour the mixture over the strawberries and put the ramekins into a preheated 350°F (180°C) oven for 15 minutes.
- Serve hot.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 10 min
Cooking time: 15 min

You could use sour cream for the cr me fraîche if you absolutely have to, but as its name indicates it will give a more sour taste than with cr me fraîche.
Save any strawberries that are left over after filling the ramekins for something else that’s delicious.

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