The past week has been a whirlwind surreal experience. I’ve been rushing around trying to get a bunch of stuff done because I’m out of town next week for a family function. I’ve been accused (or is it complimented?) of being an over-achiever in the past, but it seems that I just can’t get everything done that I’d like to get done before I leave. But the one thing I did get done, are slow roasted spicy strawberries in balsamic vinegar and red wine.
Of course, earlier this week I made those blood orange caramels to be auctioned off for the Japanese Earthquake victims over at The Tomato Tart’s virtual bake sale. When I woke up the day of the auction all excited (and slightly nervous) to see if anyone would bid on my treats, whoa boy, was in for a surprise! In one of the first bids of the auction, Beth over at OMG Yummy bought them in one fell swoop. Using the “Buy it Now” bidding, she automatically won them for $250. OMG is right! She’s amazing! Though Sabrina of The Tomato Tart hasn’t posted what the final total for the entire event was, it was more than her goal of $2500. Yay!
Now on Saturday April 2nd, 2011 is going to be the real life Bake Sale for Japan event. I’m going to be at the Bi-Rite Market San Francisco location with a few baked treats of mine, which I have yet to create. But I know that one of the components of my baked treats for sale will includes these slow roasted strawberries.
If you’ve never slow roasted strawberries or never had slow roasted strawberries you are missing out. The low heat slowly concentrates the flavor of the raw strawberries, while keeping their shape intact (conversely, cooking on direct heat like the stovetop, can causes the berries to lose their integrity and disintegrate). It’s a great way to either use old strawberries that look like they are a day away from being tossed in the compost bin, or strawberries that don’t have a lot of flavor (like early Spring strawberries).
I love to slow roast strawberries and then spoon them chilled over vanilla ice cream. I’ve used them in pies, as a sauce for a plated dessert, or as a component in another baked good (which is what I’m doing for the Bake Sale on Saturday). They are incredibly versatile, but in truth, once you’ve tasted these, I can easily see you just spooning the directly into you mouth. I know I do.
Hope to see some of you at the Saturday April 2nd Bake Sale for Japan Bi-Rite market location (on 18th Street, between Dolores and Guerrero in San Francicsco). If you don’t live near Bi-Rite, be sure to check the website for a location near you. They are happening around the US (and in fact, there’s another location right here in San Francisco at SPQR on Fillmore). If you do stop by the Bi-Rite location though, you’ll get a chance to see what I use these strawberries for. The rest of you, well you’ll just have to wait for the next post.
Slow Roasted Spicy Strawberries in Balsamic Vinegar and Red Wine
These strawberries are truly versatile. They can be used as a simple sauce or as an addition to a fancy plated dessert or as a filling for a baked good. The “recipe” I’m giving you is more of a guideline and is pretty flexible as well. If you want to keep the strawberries whole, just rinsed, destemmed and hull them. It just takes a little longer to roast them. Don’t be scared of the word “spicy” in the title. You can barely detect the spice, but it’s there, adding a dimensional depth to the fruit flavor. If you don’t want the spice at all just leave out the cinnamon and freshly ground pepper. If you want them a little a little more exotic or different try roasting them with some green cardamom pods, whole allspice berries or whole cloves or maybe even some fresh thyme or rosemary. You can substitute out the balsamic vinegar for another acidic element like lemon juice if you want. The combinations are limited by your imagination.
You can easily double this recipe, but increase the roasting time by a half hour or so.
2 lbs fresh strawberries
1 vanilla bean
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine (try to pick a big bold red)
1/2 teaspoon fresh finely ground mixed peppercorn
1 1/2” cinnamon stick
1. Preheat an oven to 275˚F
2. Destem and hull the strawberries. Then quarter the strawberries into 1” pieces (if the strawberries are large, you might need to cut them down further) placing them into a large mixing bowl as you go.
3. Slice the vanilla pod lengthwise, and then take a small paring knife and scrape out the seeds from inside the pod into the bowl of strawberries. Once they are scraped out, throw the pod itself into the bowl.
4. Add the brown sugar, vinegar, red wine, pepper, and cinnamon stick and toss gently to mix.
5. Pour into a rimmed baking sheet, making sure to scrape the bowl with a spatula to get any juices and evenly distribute the strawberries into one layer.
6. Place in oven and roast for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, making sure to stir every half hour so the strawberries don’t stick to the pan. The strawberries are done once they are softened, darkly colored, slightly dry on top, and the juices have thickened.
7. Cool on pan and then use at room temperature or store in the fridge for up to a week.
Makes about 2 cups of slow roasted strawberries.