THE RECIPE EXCHANGE: Strawberries are key to 3 summertime desserts

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Dear Lynn: I’m looking for some Mexican-style casserole recipes that are easy but tasty. — Terri, from Adrian

Marilyn, from DeKalb, loves using fresh, local strawberries to make her strawberry cream pie. Doris, from Cass City, says her strawberry cheese cake is a springtime treat. Kim, from Jennings, sent in her recipe for strawberry pudding, which she says is a delicious substitute for shortcakes.

Strawberry cream pie

1 pint fresh strawberries

1 tablespoon plus 2/3 cups sugar, divided

1/3 cup flour

2 cups milk

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 9-inch baked pie shell

2 cups whipped cream or use frozen whipped topping

Rinse and slice strawberries into a bowl. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar and gently mix. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside. Combine 2/3 cup of sugar and the flour in a double boiler. Slowly stir in milk while cooking over hot water. Stir constantly until mixture thickens. Cover and let cook without stirring for 10 minutes. Add a small amount of this mixture to eggs and blend. Pour eggs into mixture and cook for 3 more minutes. Chill thoroughly. Add vanilla and mix to blend. Pour into pie shell. Place sliced strawberries over filling. Spread whipped cream on top.

Strawberry cheese cake

Crust:

1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup butter, melted

Filling:

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

3 eggs separated and at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

Topping:

1 1/3 cups sour cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon sugar

Strawberry Glaze:

1 1/2 cups whole fresh strawberries

2/3 cup current jelly, melted

Crust: In a small bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add butter and mix. Press on the bottom and 3 inches up the sides of a buttered 8-inch spring form pan. Place in refrigerator.

Filling: With an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese and egg yolks. Add 1/2 cup of sugar, flour, salt, sour cream and vanilla. Blend thoroughly. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until frothy. Add 1/4 cup of sugar, a little at a time while still beating until mixture is stiff and glossy. Fold into cream cheese mixture. Turn filling into the spring form pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes, until center has risen and is firm to the touch.

Topping: Mix sour cream, vanilla and sugar together. Spread over hot cheese cake. Return to oven for 5 minutes. Cool cake completely in the oven. Remove rim from pan and chill cheese cake.

Glaze: About an hour before serving, wash and hull strawberries. Cut large berries in half. Arrange on top of cheese cake. Spoon cooled melted current jelly over top of berries, covering them completely. Chill until ready to serve.

Strawberry pudding

3 cups hulled strawberries

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

6 slices of sour dough bread

Butter

Whipped cream

In a saucepan, cook strawberries with sugar and water. Butter bread slices on one side, then cut into quarters. Alternate layers of bread and strawberry mixture in a loaf pan. Chill. Slice and serve with whipped cream.

• LYNN ECKERLE is author of the weekly food column The Recipe Exchange along with a weekly blog, Fun, Food and More at lseckerle.wordpress.com. She has published the cookbooks “Farmhouse Cooking” and “Country Cooking.” She lives in Southern Michigan, loves country cooking, small-town living and taking the back roads. Send recipes and requests to The Recipe Exchange at [email protected]



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