Strawberry Season

Ice Cream with strawberries and edible flowers
Farm fresh berries with ice cream!

Spring means BERRIES!

Spring is an exciting time for ingredients from the farm and garden. A popular item in almost every household is strawberries (although berries of all forms are welcome in my home).

I’ve sampled a few different berries from local growers and I have to say my hands down favorite this season have come from Loo Loo Farms. This small family farm tends to deliver interesting ingredients that are not easy to find in your grocery store or the large farms. Their produce boxes the past few weeks have include a basket of small strawberries that have more flavor than any I can ever remember.

What to do with Strawberries?

Clearly simply washing them and eating them without any effort or fuss is an ideal option.

For some reason when I think strawberries I automatically think ice cream — either a vanilla or chocolate from the store with chopped berries and other fun toppings (the photo above includes edible flowers, herbs and honeycomb — all from Loo Loo Farms). Homemade ice cream is a special treat — and a strawberry cream version is at the top of my list.

Pies, cakes, cupcakes — these little gems are perfect for baking.

Get fancy and dip them in chocolate.

If you find yourself with more strawberries than you can eat right away, they freeze well and if you have canning skills, strawberry jam is a great way to capture the flavor and enjoy later.

Cocktail Prep Time

Cocktail Time

Farm fresh berries and herbs can take your bar tending skills to the next level. I decided to create a few different cocktails with my strawberry basket and had some friends taste test. They were all a hit!

Mocktail: For those who are not into the adult beverages, a few squished up berries, berry slices, squeeze of lime and club soda make a fun, sunny day drink.

Gin Based: Turn your gin and tonic into a refreshing colorful drink with a few chopped berries

Rum Based: Strawberry Daiquiris always seem fancy to me — even though they are simple to make. I was going to go with a blended icey version but my friend who was once a bartender wasn’t keen on the idea (you know I’ll be doing that soon when she isn’t around and the temperatures spike). For now I went with an on the rocks version with berries roughly chopped and a few broken down with a fork so more juice blended in with the rum, lime juice and club soda (I skip the sugar but adjust to your own taste).

Tequila Based: Margarita time! Add a few slice berries to your favorite maragrita recipe and your done. I actually cheated on this one and bought a margarita mix from the store — so just a little tequila (ok maybe it was double shot) with the mix, berries and some fresh squeezed lime and I had a cocktail ready to serve.

There you have it – get creative with your strawberries!

Curry Time

Indian Food

The options for dining out in Paso have come so far in the 18 years that I have lived here. There are, however, a few “holes” in the offerings and a big one is an Indian resturant.

With this chilly, cloudy weather I found myself craving curry-based Indian dishes. With the lack of options for dining out, it was time to start cooking.

Ingredients are Key

Having the right, high-quality ingredients is key to making any meal. While Paso lacks a good Indian restaurant, it does supply all the ingredients to make a perfect meal at home.

At this time of year, 90% of all my produce comes from my Talley Farms produce box and the Templeton Farms market (soon my own garden will be delivering a bounty of fresh items).

I love knowing that my ingredients were raised in my area by people who follow sustainable growing practices. With cauliflower, peas and cilantro in my recent produce box, I knew “ALOO GOBI” was on the menu today.

Tip: chop up the cilantro stems and saute with the onions to add additional flavor to Aloo Gobi. Add the chopped cliantro leaves just prior to serving.

Spices (and herbs) can make or break a good curry dish. We are lucky here in Paso Robles to have the Spice of Life. After rummaging through my cupboard, I found everything I needed to spice up a delicious Indian meal. The menu included Aloo Gobi, chicken curry and basmati rice. I like things on the spicy side and since I wasn’t having guests over for this meal, I cranked up the heat (I confess to breaking out in a little sweat devouring this meal).

Eat this with Ranchero Cellars Galaxie

Many people say that the best pairing with Indian food is beer. They may be right …but …well …I’m a wine girl! I hadn’t planned on making Indian food today, and I certainly didn’t think through the pairing. This was impromptu on all fronts.

I feel there are several white wines that tend to complement spicy dishes. Viognier, full-bodied white blends, Gewurztraminer, etc. are all good candidates. Sparkling wine and rosé tend to pair with most things and are a safe bet if you just don’t have a specific pairing in mind. Even a fruit forward, light-bodied red could work.

I happened to have a Ranchero Cellars Galaxie open and was sipping on a glass of that while I cooked. I decided to just stick with it for the meal and have to say it worked quite well.

The wine is 100% carignan, has a lovely combination of lush fruit in the mid-plate and balanced acidity on the finish.

Give it a try. I had the 2017 vintage on-hand; however, the 2018 will be released later this month (I’ve sampled it as well and give it a thumbs up). Amy Butler makes great wine, vintage after vintage.