Janine Gilbertson's Granite Kitchen: It's strawberry season ... with a cherry on top

By JANINE GILBERTSON June 27. 2017 10:32PM

Fresh-picked strawberries are a treat this time of year. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

I recently made my annual early-summer pilgrimage to one of my favorite pick-your-own strawberry farms in Hollis. As usual, I was thrilled to fill a couple of berry baskets with field-fresh strawberries.

When I went inside to pay, I noticed baskets of fresh cherries for sale and realized that here in the Granite State, it’s also cherry season.

For some reason, I’ve always thought cherries were grown elsewhere, like so many of our fruits and vegetables. I had no idea there were pick-your-own varieties that were ripe and ready at the same time as strawberries. 

So naturally, I had to buy a couple of baskets of cherries, too.

Strawberries picked right out of the field are simply delicious. When they’re sun-ripened and still a little warm from the sun, a basket of fresh strawberries can fill a room with their sweet scent. They’re so perfectly sweet that they need no embellishment to be enjoyed — no fancy dips or chocolate drizzles here.

But if you pick more than you can eat in a day, you need a plan to use up all of those delicious berries before they go to waste (which would truly be a shame). 

One dish I made to encourage strawberries with breakfast was a layered concoction I made up one morning featuring buttermilk pancakes, cream cheese and strawberries. 

You could almost think of it as a stuffed pancake or pancake lasagna. It was simple to make, and using a buckwheat mix instead of regular pancake mix makes this morning treat gluten free. The strawberries tucked between the pancakes and piled on top add just the right amount of sweetness, so it’s at least conceivable that you could skip the maple syrup altogether.

If you like to make your muffins with Greek style yogurt, as I do, then a basic muffin recipe with some fresh, chopped strawberries folded in will hit the spot. (You could even swap out the strawberries for cherries and get an equally excellent result.)

Ripened cherries picked right off the tree are delicious too. I decided to chop some up and make a filling for quick cherry puff pastry hand pies. You’ll be surprised how fast and easy it is to bake these mini pies with just a few simple ingredients.

Strawberry yogurt muffins made with Greek yogurt. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Strawberry Yogurt Muffins

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup Greek yogurt

1 egg

6 tablespoons butter, melted

1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

In a large bowl, whisk to combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, egg, and melted butter until smooth.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir with a fork until just combined. Add the strawberries and stir gently. 

Line a muffin tin with baking cups. Fill the baking cups a little more than halfway with batter. Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. 

Remove from muffin tin and cool on a wire rack.

Cherry handpies are easy to make with the cherries that are now in season at New Hampshire orchards. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Cherry Handpies

1 1/2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and chopped

1 tbsp water

1 tsp lemon juice

1/4 cup sugar

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 sheet of puff pasty

1 egg, beaten

Coarse sugar for sanding

Flour for dusting

Add the cherries, lemon juice and sugar to a small saucepan and place over medium high heat on the stove. Simmer for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the cherries begin to soften. Remove from heat and set aside. 

Preheat oven to 375.

In a small bowl, add the water to the cornstarch and stir until smooth. Add the cornstarch mixture into the cherry mixture and stir to thicken. 

Dust a clean work area with flour and spread out the puff pastry sheet. Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut the puff pastry into 4 equal squares. 

Spoon some of the cherry mixture to the one side of the square (you want to place the mixture so that it will be in the center when you fold the square into a triangle). Once the filling is placed, fold diagonally into a triangle. 

Brush the edges with a little egg and press the edges to close. 

Brush a little more egg on top and sprinkle with a little sanding sugar. Repeat for the remaining pastry squares. 

Set the squares on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in preheated oven. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the pastry is light golden brown and is puffing up.

This impressive breakfast treat is made with fresh strawberries, whipped cream cheese and a little brown sugar — and an eye toward sharing. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Strawberry Cream Cheese Pancake

3 pancakes (prepared from store bought pancake mix)

1 cup whipped cream cheese

2 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp lemon juice

2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

maple syrup for garnish, if desired

Prepare pancakes according to package directions.

In a medium bowl, blend the cream cheese, brown sugar and lemon juice until smooth. 

Set a pancake on a plate and layer on half the cream cheese mixture, then half the strawberries. (Set aside some of the remaining strawberries for a top garnish.)

Top with a second pancake and repeat layers. 

Finish by topping the second layer with the third pancake and garnishing with a dollop of cream cheese and some sliced strawberries. Drizzle with maple syrup before serving, if desired.


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