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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spring is here! Less clothing, lighter food...

Don't you just love the warmer temperatures? I find myself making excuses just to wander outside and bask in the warmth.  And, to make sure I'm getting the appropriate amount of vitamin D, I am exposing a bit more skin while I'm out there!

A lovely white, empire waisted dress (yes, I forced the season a bit and wore white-so sue me) with a great pair of peep toe, striped wedges and I was out the door!

The best part about the beginning of spring is that feeling of a warm breeze on skin long covered in winter layers, don't you think? In the mindset of light and airy, I headed to the market for seasonal food that made me feel like a spring breeze from the inside out.

On the menu, Mediterranean Shrimp Salad and a fresh Strawberry Pie.  

Arugula and lemons are in season now, and I love to capitalize on the bright fresh flavors of the current crops.

Mediterranean Shrimp Salad:

The vinaigrette:

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. lemon juice
2 T. apple cider vinegar
1 t. Dijon mustard
3/4 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper

Whisk all ingredients together, and set aside.

The salad:

1 lb. large, fresh caught shrimp (I don't care for the flavor of farmed-blech)
      I have these steamed at the market, but you can boil them with 2 bay leaves if you like.
4 c. orzo pasta (cooked)
1 c. arugula
1 zucchini, halved and sliced very thinly
1 c. (or more) kalamata olives
1/2 c. sweet onion, sliced vertically
3 T. fresh basil, chopped
1 T. fresh oregano, chopped

Combine in a very large bowl, toss with vinaigrette.  Now get yourself outside and enjoy the weather! Oh, and grab a glass of chardonnay on your way out...

Strawberries, strawberries, strawberries! The luscious, ripe, redness of them just rock my socks.  It was time to take those succulent little darlings and turn them into a fitting spring tribute.

Fresh Strawberry Pie:

The crust: (From Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.
  2. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  3. Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.
    To prebake, bake in a 475 degree oven for 10 minutes.

    The Filling: (From Cooking Light)
    2 c. hulled, ripe strawberries
    1/2 c. water
    2/3 c. sugar
    2 T. cornstarch
    1 T. fresh lemon juice
    6 c. hulled, ripe strawberries
    1 c. heavy whipping cream
    1/4 c. sugar

    Mash 2 c. strawberries in a small bowl with a potato masher. Combine mashed strawberries and water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil; boil 5 minutes.
    Press strawberry mixture through a sieve, into a bowl.  Discard pulp.  Reserve strawberry liquid. Add enough water to measure 1 cup.
    Combine 2/3 cup sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan; add strawberry liquid, stirring well with a whisk.  Bring to a boil, cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and cook 2 minutes more.  Remove from heat and add lemon juice.
    Add a layer of strawberries to crust, stem sides down. Spoon 1/2 sauce over.  Add remaining strawberries to crust and spoon over remaining sauce.  Chill pie at least 3 hours.
    Whip the cream in a stand mixer on high while adding the sugar in a steady stream.  Beat until stiff peaks form.

    So tasty! Enjoy the fruits of your labor, my lovelies.  Go outside, bare your shoulders, your toes, and anything else you feel like!


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