Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Alcohol Improves a Berry Disappointing Season

It's been a cold spring in these parts, and it doesn't seem as though it has been a particularly bountiful year for Mississippi or Louisiana strawberry growers. That was why it was only more surprising when I discovered that our local big-box purveyor had southeastern berries for sale. They were from Eubanks Farm in Lucedale, Mississippi - in the southern tip of the Magnolia State at approximately the same latitude as Ponchatoula, Louisiana.

Unfortunately, while they weren't quite the plywood variety grown in California, like most grocery store berries, they were a little hard. I've yet to make it to a decent u-pick operation this spring.

But we should remember that alcohol can and often does rescue us from our most bitter disappointments. I can hardly claim any originality in using Cointreau to extract the best out of mediocre strawberries. This preparation yields a light desert that is perfect when you want something sweet after dinner but not terribly much more to eat.

(Makes two portions)
Core 5 to 6 medium strawberries and thinly slice
Macerate in a bowl with Cointreau and two teaspoons of sugar
Serve on small plates with a rim
Pour on creme fraiche (or in a pinch, half & half)
lightly sprinkle with cinnamon (which is really what makes all the difference).

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