I adore putting together a menu, but like a grocery shopper entering the store with a rumbling tummy, I find that I often set myself up for a challenge. Between my need to feed my guests with reckless abandon, to a love of a seemingly daunting menu, I face the issue of running out of steam. Couple that with my lack of prowess in the realm of desserts, I find that many of my menus end up being a bit front-loaded in terms of the serious cooking. Which is why, lovely readers, I am a sucker for a dessert that is simple to prepare, with a heavy dose of wow factor.
Summertime on the east coast (or pretty much anytime on the west coast – you guys have easy access to berries!) always meant an abundance of ripe strawberries just begging to be picked up and taken home. In my house growing up, we always kept it simple – cut the tops, halve the berries and toss with a few teaspoons of sugar. As the berries hung out, they’d give off the most lovely scarlet juice, which we then used to sauce the little shortcakes you could pick up in the produce section of the store. A little whipped cream, and we were in business.
Over the years, I’ve tweaked the recipe, if you even want to call it a recipe as it is so simple to prepare. I add chopped fresh mint for color and a few tablespoons of the wickedly floral liqueur St. Germain to bring out the lush flavor of ripe fruit. Let the little troublemakers hang out, and in a matter of minutes, you have the most perfect dessert. Serve over good ice cream, pound cake or even by themselves – the real treat is not only consuming these babies, but rather, knowing that you didn’t have to expend any extra effort to make the most perfect dessert.
Strawberries with Elderflower and Mint
1 pt. of fresh strawberries
2 tbs. white sugar
a couple swigs of St. Germain (can be substituted with Grand Marnier)
5-6 mint leaves, finely chopped
Wash strawberries well, remove the hulls and quarter. Toss into a bowl and mix with the sugar, St. Germain and mint.