Tag Archives: Cocktail

Strawberry pie and strawberry berryoska

Yesterday my friend Molly and I threw a Memorial Day weekend party. We went to the farmer’s market beforehand. And ended up going a little strawberry-crazy.

It’s certainly the time of year for it. Citrus has all but disappeared from the markets, and stone fruits are still a few weeks away from being great. But strawberries are at their heady best right now, and our local market is crowded with berry vendors. We sampled from all the stands, and zeroed in on the really good fruit–not too big, not too squishy, deep Valentine red, strong-smelling. Strawberries this good deserve star treatment, and we came up with two glorious ways to show them off: a pie and a cocktail.

Initially the plan was strawberry-rhubarb pie, but for some unknown reason there was no rhubarb at the market. So we decided to forge ahead with an all-strawberry pie, based of course on my go-to rye crust. We stuck with an old-fashioned berry pie filling: fruit, a little sugar, cornstarch, a big glug of balsamic vinegar, and a healthy grind of black pepper (my favorite strawberry spice). Although the recipe we adapted was for a lattice-top pie, we decided to make it with just a single crust, to keep the fruit-to-crust ratio as high as possible. The strawberries on top dried out and singed slightly in the heat of the oven, so to make up for it, I melted a little honey in the microwave and brushed it over the top. (Next time I’d turn the oven down partway through to prevent burning; I’ve amended the recipe below to reflect that.)

It’s not often that my baked goods turn out beautiful, but this one was a stunner.

strawberry pie whole

This was the fruit pie that other fruit pies aspire to be: jammy fruit suspended in a light cornstarch jelly, with a subtle shine from the honey glaze and red juices bubbling over a dense buttery crust. We let it cool for an hour, which turned out to be the perfect amount of time, leaving the pie just warm in the center but still firm enough to slice. Even after a rich pasta lunch, we had no trouble devouring it in about 10 minutes flat. After finishing his first piece, one of our friends said, “Now I’m racking my brain to think of where all the other pies in my life went wrong.”

strawberry pie slice forwards

While we were slicing strawberries for pie, Sam decided to steal a few for a cocktail. A quick Google swipe turned up something called a “strawberry berryoska,” a muddled mix of strawberries, lemonade, and vodka. In Sam’s creative hands, the berryoska morphed into a sweet, lightly fizzy affair, thick with strawberry pulp and laced with a touch of Grand Marnier. It was dangerous, to say the least, and perfect for a spring-to-summer party. The only thing that would have made it more perfect was crushed ice, which we didn’t have. But no one really seemed to mind.

In fact, once the pie went into the oven and we realized we had no more strawberries for drinks, Molly was so devastated that she called her late-arriving boyfriend to bring us more. He showed up with a full half-flat of strawberries. Looks like we’ll be strawberry-crazy here for a while yet.

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Raising a glass to the New Year

So here we are.  The last week of 2011.  Seven days until January.

It’s the end of Dare to Eat a Peach’s first year.  If this blog were a person, it would already be toddling and talking and pulling boxes off grocery store shelves when the grown-ups aren’t looking.  I’m oddly fond of this little internet creature I’ve birthed–through it, I’ve managed to be more creative, in a different way, than I’d been in a long time.  For a first-year adventure, it’s been a good one.

It hasn’t been the easiest year.  My family has gone through some unexpected challenges, and I’ve lost a fair amount of ground in taking care of my own health.  But I’m also on much more solid ground than I was this time last year; after many years of self-image struggles, I’m finally feeling at home in my own skin. So my efforts to buckle down on my health are actually going to stick this year.  It’s not a question of wobbly resolutions, but quiet jaw-set determination.  2012 is looking up already.

So this week is going to be my time to recharge and gear up.  I’m letting my creative muscles relax a little bit, and returning to some comfy kitchen favorites.  Last night I made a batch of these for my friends; later in this week, I’ll probably make a couple of these for dinner, and maybe try a new spin on this for lunch one day.  And then, on New Year’s Eve, I’ll whip up one of my grandmother’s favorite cocktails–champagne, Grand Marnier, a lime wedge, an ice cube–and toast to a sweeter and more sparkling 2012.

See you on the other side!

French Connection (makes one drink)

Courtesy of my grandmother Marilyn

Grab a champagne flute, and drop in an ice cube and a lime wedge.  Pour in an ounce of Grand Marnier, then top off the flute with champagne.  This was the first cocktail I ever tasted, and it’s still my favorite way to ring in the New Year.

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