Strawberries Two Ways: chocolate crumble with ice cream and spinach salad with orange vinaigrette

IMG_3989Strawberries are in season which means whether you gather them at a U Pick or find them at the farmer’s market, seasonal strawberries are at the peak of perfection and ready to elevate hum drum everyday recipes to celestial heights. Here I offer strawberries two ways.IMG_3984

The first recipe, a savory strawberry spinach salad is ridiculously simple. It’s humble medley of fresh spinach, tangy orange poppyseed vinaigrette, earthy toasted almonds and ripe, juicy strawberries make this simple salad something to covet.IMG_3981

The second recipe welcomes strawberries like the popular cousin at a family reunion for desserts- the little red berries, at the seasonal height of sweetness are the key ingredient in a flourless chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream crumble. Sumptuous, delicious and very, very decadent.

The salad

4 c. spinach, stems removed, washed and dried

1 c. strawberries, washed and cut into pieces

1/2c. slivered almonds, toasted

1/2 red onion, sliced into thin rounds


2 tsp frozen concentrated orange juice

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp honey

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp poppy seeds

Drizzle your vinaigrette onto the red and green speckled salad and enjoy.

The Chocolate Cake CrumbleIMG_3992

8 oz. semi sweet bakers chocolate

¾ cup unsalted butter

4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature, divided

2 egg whites, also at room temperature

½ cup sugar

Strawberry Sauce

1½ cups sliced fresh strawberries

1 Tbsp sugar

½ lemon, juiced

Preheat oven to 300˚F. Slather a 9-inch springform pan with butter.

Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler. Remove from heat, and whisk until smooth and glossy. Combine egg yolks, then stir into chocolate mixture.

Beat all 6 egg whites with electric mixer on high 1 to 2 minutes, or until foamy. Add sugar, and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg white mixture into chocolate mixture until just combined. Pour into prepared pan, and bake 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out mostly clean. Cool.

For the sauce, combine strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in food processor; let stand 5 minutes. Add 2 Tbs. water, and purée until smooth. Strain through fine-mesh strainer.

To serve

Scoop a generous amount of your favourite vanilla ice cream into a dessert dish. Now it’s time to get your hands dirty! Take a handful of cake and smush it into gooey crumbs all over your ice cream. Top with your strawberry sauce and some fresh cut strawberries.IMG_3979

We ate this dessert at a big family gathering and everyone went ga-ga for this sweet treat but while the rest of us were stuffing our faces, Cally sat alone in the other room and had none. Why? Because denying her the chocolate bliss we’d worked so hard to create together was the absolute worst punishment I could think of for the absolute worst crime she could commit- lying.

“Cally, why is Leela crying?” I demanded earlier as her little sister wailed and scrabbled at my leg.

“I don’t know,” she sheepishly mumbled, staring on the tiled floor and sweeping her foot back and forth.  Then, to Cally’s four-year-old dismay, Leela who is now two and can talk stopped crying long enough to say, “Cally hit. Owie.”

“Cally!” I admonished. “Did you hit your sister?”

With eyes still glued to the floor she very quietly admitted her wrong.

“Go sit on the stair,” I commanded. “Five minutes in time out for hitting. You know better…..oh-” I added as an afterthought, “And no chocolate cake tonight for dessert. That’s your punishment for lying.”

She cried a lot about that. I think that it was a more effective punishment than the time out and it’s very likely she’ll think twice about not telling the truth  next time. It’s was a delicious dessert to have to miss…If she’s good, maybe tomorrow she can have some leftovers.



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