Saturday, June 12, 2010
Strawberry season--one of the sweetest times of the year is upon us, which means now is the moment to snatch up their fleeting goodness. And in another month or so, nature's candy store continues to throw open its doors as blueberries begin to ripen on farms. And after that, raspberries and peaches. Each year at this time, I'm reminded about how delicious it is to live in Maine.
I will eat strawberries in almost any form, but one of my favorite ways to enjoy this near perfect fruit is to make a nice strawberry or strawberry rhubarb shortcake. I'll make jellies, jams, fruity toppings, many quarts will go into the freezer for a winter treat and remind me of why I look forward to our early summers' fruitful arrival, or simply sliced to top off my yogurt and granola breakfast. Then just when I think I couldn't possibly eat another strawberry, our South Berwick Strawberry Festival takes place when we always can muster up just one (or two) more scrumptious treats! The town's annual festival kicks off, with 2,654 pounds of strawberries, 60 gallons of whipped cream, and 5,000 biscuits ready to be slathered together in delicious servings of strawberry shortcake at $4 a pop.
So for the last ten days, when we haven't had the drizzles--I've gone strawberry picking. After last years' disastrously rainy season, this year so far has been just perfect for pickin' and we're lucky enough to be surrounded by dozens of organic berry farms, and last nights' dessert.. Strawberry Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars.
Strawberry-Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups flour, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 1/2 cups strawberry-rhubarb filling (recipe follows)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9-inch square pan.
In a stand mixer, beat the 1 1/2 sticks of butter and 1/3 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in the stand mixer and beat until incorporated. Using floured hands, gather the butter mixture into a ball in the mixer bowl. Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust has begun to brown at the edges. Remove from the oven to cool slightly while preparing the remaining ingredients.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the remaining 1/4 stick of butter, 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the brown sugar, soda, oats and lemon zest. Pulse until the mixture becomes crumbly.
Spread the 1 1/2 cups of filling over the baked crust. Sprinkle the oat mixture on top of the jam. Bake for 30 minutes or until the oat topping has become golden.
Strawberry Rhubarb Filling
1/2 pound fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 pint fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
1 TBL orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
4 tsp cornstarch
In a medium saucepan cook the rhubarb, sugar, orange juice and cornstarch--stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and begins to boil. Boil only two minutes. Stir in the cleaned strawberries and remove from heat. Set aside to cool.