Thursday, June 17, 2010


Ontario strawberry season is upon us - and from the ones I have eaten, they are juicy, deep red and delicious! Our local Ontario strawberry's are finally available in stores and are popping up in many a dessert at restaurants around the city! Ontario strawberry season is at its peak in June and July - so for the next month and a half I suggest picking some up, or even going to pick your own. My cottage is near Peterborough and just before we get to the lake is a place called O'Mara's Berry Farm. All summer long we are just ten minutes from freshly picked strawberries and raspberries. But the best part is - you can pick your own! It is such a fun activity, great for kids, and rewarding at the end when you have cartons filled with fresh produce.

Here are a few historical facts you probably didn't know about strawberries. Strawberries were originally cultivated in Ancient Rome and aside from Canada and the US, are grown Russia and Chile. In 13th century France strawberries were actually used as a medical herb.

When picking berries choose ones that are plump, firm and deep-coloured that have bright green caps and no sign of soft spots or mold. A 12oz. basket of strawberries will give you about 3 1/2 cups of whole strawberries or 2 1/4 cups of sliced ones.

There are so many berry farms around the city that you probably don't even know exist. So here is a link for PICK YOUR OWN places in the GTA (it also includes other cities like London, Hamilton etc.) Check it out and go pick some fresh Ontario berries!

Here is a great summer recipe highlighting strawberries - great for dinner parties as you make individual ones!

Strawberry Shortcake - my way

I have made this dessert since I was in about grade 8. I loved cooking at the cottage and helping out in any way I could. Whenever we would have our best family friends over for dinner - I always did the desserts. One of my (and their) fav's was my strawberry shortcake. My mom found individual angle food cake cups at the grocery store (usually in the baked goods area).

They would be about the same size as the cupcake one's in this picture.

- Individual angle food cake cups (available at grocery stores) or angle food cake made into muffin sizes (usually about 6 in the package)
- 1 small container of whipping cream
- 1 - 2 containers of fresh Ontario strawberries
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar (1 tbsp then 2 tbsp)
- Mint leaves

So what you do is slice the cupcakes or the store bought cups in half. You put a layer of freshly whipped cream (1 small container whipping cream mixed with 1 tbsp of vanilla and 1 tbsp granulated sugar, whip until stiff) and then a layer of sliced Ontario strawberries. (Note: it is better to slice the strawberries ahead of the party and let rest with about 2 tbsp of granulated sugar. This allows the berries to masurate and draws out some of the liquids making a nice sort of sauce with the berries).

Place the other part of the cake on top and layer more whipped cream and strawberries. Use some of the juices to drizzle around the plate with a few extra berries. Garnish with a mint leaf for colour and decoration. The store bought cakes are not flat across the top but have a bit of a well, so they hold the cream and berries very well!

The individual servings of this dessert make it great for any sort of entertaining! 

photo credit: google images

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