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Welcome to my blog!  Here, I document my adventures in booze, yummy cuisine & exotic or not so exotic travel.

Brown sugar, balsamic & brown butter strawberry pie

Brown sugar, balsamic & brown butter strawberry pie

I have always been obsessed with strawberries.  Anything strawberry flavored I want to devour it.  Now.  My parents have shared stories of when, as a toddler, I collapsed in the middle of strawberry patches, the juices running down my face as I secretly consumed what we picked, asking for more berries.  Or, as I called them, ’dubops’.  Apparently, I was a really weird kid, as ‘dubops’ does not sound the least bit like strawberries.  My weird linguistic patterns aside, I am still just as taken with strawberries today as I was then and I eagerly await June in New England when the first strawberries begin to ripen.  New England strawberries are different than those I grew up with in Ohio.  They are smaller and sweeter and they make the most amazingly flavored desserts.  They are perfect for roasting to create the perfect jammy sauce to drizzle on ice cream or cheesecake.  They can top a beautiful, dense chocolate cake and also be used as a decadent tart filling. You can combine them with goat cheese and layer on toasty French bread for an elegant take on a grilled cheese or combine them with tomatoes for a sweeter bruschetta.    Over the past few years I have been working to perfect my fresh strawberry pie.  I have tried many online recipes, tested others gathered from friends or family and I am confident I have finally developed the absolute best strawberry pie you will ever have.  The base of this recipe is my sister’s strawberry pie recipe, which she generously shared with me.  And if anyone should have a food blog, it is my sister.  Her desserts are unbelievable.  I crave them and she always makes sure to have a few of my favorite treats when I am back in Ohio.  One day soon, I will share some of those and you will thank me.  And so will your stomach and all of your family.  She is a phenomenal baker.  But in addition to her recipe, I tried to think of what else I enjoyed with strawberries and I remembered once having berries dipped in balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, which were incredible, sweet and tangy.  Surely, that can be made into a pie, I thought.  And if you are going to have butter, why not brown butter?  So that is how my best fresh strawberry pie was created.   Whatever you call them‚ strawberries or dubops, they belong in this pie which you need to make right now!

All ingredients:
7 Tbs. butter     
1 package graham crackers (10 full ones)     
3 Tbs. brown sugar
1 3 oz. package strawberry Jell-O  
½ cup sugar       
2 cups water       
2 Tbs. cornstarch      
1 Tbs. brown sugar     
2 quarts strawberries ‚ washed, hulled and cut, if necessary     
1-pint heavy whipping cream  
3 Tbs. powdered sugar     
Balsamic reduction drizzle      
Fresh Mint (optional) for garnish     

Graham cracker crust
Note:  Don’t even think of buying a prepared one from the store.  They taste like old cardboard and part of what makes this pie so good is the crust.  I promise it will be worth it!!  It’s really simple.  

7 Tbs. butter
1-package graham crackers (10 full ones)
3 Tbs. brown sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375.

Put your graham crackers in a food processor and process until they are finely ground.  Add the 3 Tbs. of brown sugar and process briefly again.  Empty into a bowl.   

On your stovetop, melt the butter slowly until it starts to smell slightly nutty and get little brown bits starting in the middle of the pan.  Do not let it burn.  Once it is nicely browned and you can smell it, empty the butter into the bowl with the crumbs and mix them together with a fork.  

Pour mixture into your pie pan, which has been previously sprayed with a non-stick spray and press the crumbs in gently.  I tend to like a thicker crust so this should give you plenty to cover the entire pan with a chewy, dense crust.

Put the crust in the oven to bake for about 8-10 minutes or until it just starts to brown and you can smell its wonderful gingery fragrance.  

Fresh strawberry base:

Although I try to stay away from foods that are too processed (except donuts...all bets are off in that case), I have found that strawberry Jell-O really creates the best flavor and consistency to make this pie.  Just buy it, trust me.
1 3 oz. package strawberry Jell-O
½ cup sugar
2 cups water
2 Tbs. cornstarch
1 Tbs. brown sugar
2 quarts strawberries, washed, hulled and cut, if necessary (as fresh as you can get them!!!)

Put all ingredients above, except strawberries and brown sugar, into a pan on the stove and gently heat until the mixture begins to thicken and turn clear.  When it has reached a thicker consistency, remove from the heat and let cool.

Meanwhile, place your strawberries into your cooled piecrust.  Sprinkle with 1 Tbs. of brown sugar.  Once your Jell-O mixture has cooled, lavishly pour evenly over your strawberries.  Place pie in refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour or until it sets.

Whipped Cream:

Note:  Again, this is not the time to buy pre made whipped topping.  Making your own is so simple and so much more flavorful.
1-pint heavy whipping cream
3 Tbs. powdered sugar.  
Pinch of salt
Balsamic reduction drizzle

In your mixer, blender or Vitamix, add in cream, powdered sugar and pinch of salt and blend or mix until light fluffy peaks start to appear.  Do not over mix.  When done spread over top of pie and drizzle balsamic reduction drizzle. 

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