Thursday, May 24, 2012

Strawberries and Red Wine

Last weekend I joined chef Niki in the Lucas Arts Center kitchen at Montalvo to help with a literary luncheon featuring authors Alice LaPlante and Jessica Theroux. The menu was based on Jessica's book, Cooking With Italian Grandmothers which chronicles her adventurous year in Italy doing just that.
Its a pleasure for me to schmooze with creative accomplished cooks whose enthusiasm for preparing fresh food matches my enthusiasm for growing it. I'll gladly be any good cook's bitch, give me garlic to peel, herbs to chop, salad to wash, sauces to stir, pots and pans to scrub. By working hands on, their skills rub off  and my culinary repertoire expands.
This particular day I was given the splendid task of prepping strawberries for dessert. Easy as pie, easier really, just sort, cut, sprinkle with sugar, and soak in a proper red wine. As we prepared the rest of the luncheon my job was to stir the strawberries every 10-15 minutes,which required a trip to the laundry room fridge and tasting at the insistence of the Task Master. After a few hours the berries turn deep crimson and sweetly take on the wine notes. By show time, tastefully served in chilled bistro glasses and dolloped with whipped cream, they were a revelation.
So enthused by the simplicity of this deliciousness I tried it at home that very evening. Distracted, I poured in too much wine, finished the bottle, and left my strawberries soaking all night. The next day they looked like beets but tasted soooooo yummy tho a tad over developed. Besotted actually.
Now a strawberry infused red wine is a terrible thing to waste. What to do with all that extra liquid?  I was about to pour it off and save it for wine coolers when my mad skills sweetie, in the middle of making loquat ice cream and grilling lamb chops, claimed it for a reduction sauce. It was brilliant as it laid down with the lamb.

Jessica's Theroux's Italian Grandmother's Wine-soaked Strawberries
Cut 4 cups ripe organic strawberries into halves or quarters; leave small ones whole. Place berries in a large bowl; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar. Pour 1 cup red wine over them. Toss gently. Serve immediately or let berries soak a few hours in the refrigerator to allow flavors to develop. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

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