Ah, summer – it’s berry time!

When the strawberry arrives, I know it’s time to celebrate summer, Canada Day, family picnics, birthdays…you name it, there has to be a celebration during strawberry season.

Here to help with the festivities are baskets of the best, most luscious, sweet, delectable treats in all the world – strawberries – ready and waiting to be transformed into all those sumptuous recipes by Foodland Ontario designed to showcase the strawberry.

Strawberry Lassi

This creamy, refreshing version of the Indian drink, lassi, is a great finish to a spicy meal. As a source of protein, calcium, phosphorus, fibre and vitamins A and C, it makes a nutritious instant breakfast drink too.

3 cups (750 mL) halved strawberries
2 cups (500 mL) non-fat vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup (125 mL) milk
1/2 cup (125 mL) coconut milk
1/4 cup (60 mL) liquid honey
pinch each, ground cardamom and salt

Garnish: mint sprigs

In a blender or large plastic jug using handheld blender, combine strawberries, yogurt, milk, coconut milk, honey, cardamom and salt until smooth.

Pour into six tall glasses and garnish with mint.

Variation: Strawberry Popsicles – The mixture made up above may be poured into ice pop molds or paper cups. Insert wooden sticks and freeze until solid, about four hours or up to one week. To remove, dip bottom of molds in warm water for four seconds.

Strawberry Oat Quick Bread

One bite of this strawberry loaf will be a constant reminder of summer. Be sure to keep an extra loaf tucked in the freezer to enjoy in the winter months ahead.

2 1/2 cups (625 mL) halved strawberries (about 1 lb)
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (175 mL) buttermilk (or substitute 3/4 cup (175 mL) milk and stir in the lemon juice below)
2 tbsp (25 mL) lemon juice
3 eggs
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
2 1/2 cups (625 mL) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 mL) rolled oats
1 tbsp (15 L) fresh grated lemon rind
1 tsp (5 mL) each, baking powder and baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
Dusting of icing sugar

Preheat oven to 350˚F (180˚C). Line a nine-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. In food processor, pulse 2 cups (500 mL) of the strawberries, until slightly chunky and jam like in consistency. Add sugar, buttermilk, lemon juice, eggs and vanilla, process until smooth.

In large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, lemon rind, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients. Add strawberry mixture, folding to combine just until no specks of flour remain, about three minutes. Do not over-work the mixture. Finely chop remaining strawberries; fold into batter. Spread into prepared pan, smoothing top. Bake in preheated oven for one hour or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer loaf to cooling rack. Let cool 30 minutes before removing from pan and cooling completely.

To freeze: Wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to three days or over-wrap and freeze for up to three months.

Dust with icing sugar before serving. Makes about 15 slices.

Hawaiian Strawberry Tart

A cross between a cheesecake and a tart, this fuss-free dessert is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) vanilla wafer crumbs
1/4 cup (60 mL) sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup (60 mL) toasted macadamia nuts, finely chopped or substitute another nut
1/3 cup (75 mL) melted butter

3 pkg 8 oz/ 250 g light cream cheese
1 cup (250 mL) sifted icing sugar
1/4 cup (60 mL) lime juice (about 2 limes)
2 tsp (10 mL) fresh lime rind

Crushed Berry Sauce:
2 1/2 cups ( 625 mL) quartered strawberries
2 tsp (10 mL) granulated sugar

12 Ontario strawberries halved
2 tbsp (25 mL) toasted, chopped macadamia nuts

Preheat oven to 350˚F (180˚C). Spray nine inch tart pan with removable bottom with baking spray.

In mixing bowl, stir together wafer crumbs, coconut and nuts; stir in butter until evenly moistened. Press onto bottom and up side of nine inch tart pan with removable bottom or use nine inch spring form pan. Bake shell eight to 10 minutes or until golden brown around edge. Let cool completely. ( To chill pie shell quickly, place in freezer for about 15 minutes.)

Filling: In bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy with electric mixer. Gradually beat in sugar until well combined. Add lime juice and lime rind; mix until smooth and spoon over crust. Refrigerate for two hours or until set and thoroughly chilled.

Crushed Berry Sauce: In bowl, combine strawberries with sugar, if using let stand for 15 minutes. Lightly crush with fork. Garnish: Arrange strawberries on tart; sprinkle with macadamia nuts.

To serve, cut into eight wedges with sharp knife.

Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer janmainskitchen@yahoo.ca

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