Sunday, July 24, 2022

Fresh Strawberry Lemonade

  When I recently went to a dear friend's house for a lovely summer hang, I was asked if I would mind bringing a dessert. Um, have you met me?? OF COURSE  I wouldn't mind! Obviously, you know I had already planned to bring something, and I decided to make something summery and strawberry. I made some fabulous strawberry cupcakes with homemade strawberry jam in the center, swirls of strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream, and a fresh whole strawberry on top. They turned out BEAUTIFULLY and everyone loved them. Full disclosure, I was actually extremely proud of them, thank you very much!
 Then I woke up the next morning, thinking... I want more strawberries!! So I went back to my local farmers' market, and bought several more pounds! They were just so gorgeous and inexpensive and sweet and perfect, I just couldn't help myself. 
 But, what shall I make? Well, we're in the middle of a brutally scathing heatwave with heat indexes over 100ºF. I think some refreshing strawberry lemonade would be just the thing!!
  So here we are! A very simple recipe that is a snap to throw together. It's perfectly sweet and tart and thirst-quenching and I don't know of a single person who doesn't absolutely LOVE it. 
Btw, the recipe is so easy, you don't even have to write it down. It's just two cups of each ingredient. As Miss Ina would say, how easy is that???
  So, go out and support your local farmers, buy a ton of strawberries, and make a few batches of lemonade. I KNOW you'll absolutely love it!!! 

2 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 cups fresh strawberries, stemmed and hulled
2 cups fresh lemon juice
2 cups ice water

First, make a simple syrup. 
In a medium sauce pot, stir together sugar and water over medium heat, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and place in the fridge to cool/chill. 
Place strawberries in a food processor or blender. Process until completely pureed. This will take several minutes longer than you think it will. You don't want ANY small bits of strawberry. Add your strawberry puree to your now chilled simple syrup. Stir in lemon juice and ice water. 
 Pour into a pitcher through a fine mesh strainer to catch any seeds or errant bits of strawberry. 
Serve in a tall glass over ice and enjoy!

I believe this recipe to be the perfect blend of tart and sweet. However, you can absolutely tweak it to suit your own taste. Tweak the tartness by the amount of lemon juice you add, and tweak the sweetness by the amount of ice water you add. Start out with 1 1/2 cups of each, and then adjust as you go. Add more lemon juice for more tartness. Add more ice water for less sweetness. And if you'd like a stronger hit of strawberry flavor, just add more pureed strawberries!
When I say to puree your strawberries, I mean REALLY let them go for a while in the food processor until they are completely smooth. This will mean more strawberries making it into the lemonade instead of being strained out at the end.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Corniest Corn Muffins

  One of the very BEST things about living in the Garden State is our Jersey fresh corn on the cob. I'm not even kidding when I say I challenge anyone to find farm fresh corn that is sweeter or more delicious than ours. It's one of my favorite things about summer!! (well, that and our Jersey tomatoes!)
 So I was recently talking with my sister, Jeanie, and she was telling me how she made these corn muffins. She absolutely RAVED about them! She said they're the absolute best! In fact, she wrote a A++ note in the cookbook where she got the recipe, which is called Baking from My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan. 
 She also said she only makes this recipe when she has fresh corn on the cob because it just makes all the difference in the world. I mean, yes, of course, you could use canned or frozen corn, but when you have fields of corn growing practically right in your back yard, why not use fresh, right?
 We do have a rule in our family, btw. We don't buy fresh corn until after the 4th of July. THEN we know it's good and ready. And with so many farmers markets around... OH MAN... you know it's just as fresh as can be. It also makes me feel good to support local farmers!!
 So, if you live in New Jersey, go to your favorite local farm market, buy some fresh corn, and make these muffins. In fact, make a double batch and throw half in the freezer for another time. 
 You'll be SO glad you did!!!! Promise!

1 cup flour 
1 cup yellow corn meal, preferably stone-ground  
6 tbs sugar 
2 1/2  tsp baking powder   
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt 
1 pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional) 
1 cup buttermilk 
3 tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled 
3 tbs corn oil 
1 large egg 
1 large egg yolk 
1 cup corn kernels (add up to 1/3 cup more if you'd like) 
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400ºF. 
Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Alternatively, use a silicone muffin pan, which needs neither greasing nor paper cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.  
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg, if you’re using it. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, melted butter, oil, egg and yolk together until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough - the batter will be lumpy, and that’s just the way it should be. Stir in the corn kernels. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes (12 minutes for minis), or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.
Just like my sister, I'd add more corn. I mean, it says we can add up to 1/3 cup more, why not just bump it up to 2 cups? NOW we're talking!