Recipe: Roasted Strawberry Puff
Twice a month, Berkshire native Alana Chernila, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), contributes a thoughtful and heartfelt essay/recipe created exclusively for Rural Intelligence readers. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has a new one in the works, tentatively titled “Meals from the Homemade Pantry,” due out in 2015. This week, she revels in the beginning of strawberry season.
And with that, the strawberries have arrived.
I saw them on Instagram first. They showed up in my feed, like a little trumpet call of the season to come. First it was just a shot here or there, a lonely pint on a sunny windowsill, or a celebratory strawberry shortcake. I’d look at the name of the person who took the photo, and I’d feel a surge of jealousy.
“They must be farther south. They must be in New Jersey.” (That’s one of the few good things I know about New Jersey. You get strawberries in May.)
But then the photos picked up, and this week it was all strawberries all the time in Instagram world. Well-placed wooden quarts of unadorned strawberries, homemade strawberry ice cream, pictures of cute toddlers in strawberry patches covered from head to toe in bright red juice. Strawberry shots are the new beach photos.
Luckily, a quart of local strawberries is way cheaper than a beach vacation. This is a social media trend that’s available to all. This past weekend, I picked up a pretty gorgeous quart from Bug Hill Farm at the Great Barrington Farmers’ Market. I walked into the kitchen slowly, proudly clutching my glowing box.
“Are those… strawberries?” The family descended. But I fought them back. I put that box on my marble counter, and I took my very own strawberry photo. Then, it was time to eat.
These early strawberries are so precious, they usually don’t even make it home. But if you actually want to make something with them, this is a great special weekend breakfast.
Roasted Strawberry Puff
1 quart strawberries, hulled and quartered
3 tablespoons maple syrup, plus additional for serving
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1½ cups whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1½ cups all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Generously grease the inside of a 10- or 12-inch cast iron skillet with softened butter. Combine the strawberries, 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup, olive oil, vinegar and salt in a medium bowl. Transfer the strawberry mixture to the skillet and roast in the oven until the strawberries get soft and release their juice, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, melted butter and maple syrup in a medium bowl. Add the flour and stir to combine, gently pressing any pockets of flour out of the mix. The batter will be lumpy.
Pour the batter into the hot pan with the strawberries, swirling to combine the batter with the strawberry liquid. Bake without opening the oven until puffed and golden, another 30 to 35 minutes.
Serve with maple syrup.