Sunday, April 02, 2006

Strawberries & Balsamic Vinegar

Those of you who have already tried this most blissful, fortuitous of combinations may think that dedicating a whole post to balsamic vinegar drizzled over fresh strawberries is silly, too obvious. But for those of you who have yet to taste this, a revelation awaits you! This is the single best way to eat strawberries as well as the single best way to consume balsamic vinegar. Most of the time balsamic on a green salad is too sweet for me, gimme Spanish sherry wine vinegar for that. Balsamic is made for strawberries! Anyway, you have 2 options for serving this simplest of dishes: as a snack,

1 cup quartered (big) or halved (small) strawberries
1 tablespoon (more or less to taste) balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon (more or less to taste) sugar

Coat the strawberries with the balsamic and sugar in a bowl and let macerate for at least 30 minutes. The result is a delicious bowl of strawberries with the best sweet/tart sauce. It is a little ugly, though, the sauce being dark brown and all, making the red of the strawberries a little dingy. For a more elegantly pretty late spring dessert, follow this version:

-1 cup whole strawberries per person
-1 teaspoon balsamic per person
-1 teaspoon sugar per person

So, for a dinner party dessert for 6 people, place 6 tsps sugar and 6 tbsps balsamic in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and reduce to a thick syrup. (I used a candy thermometer and boiled the mixture to 230F.) Music to reduce vinegar by: "Float on" by Modest Mouse. Let cool. Drizzle the thick syrup over the whole strawberries and serve immediately. This provides a very lovely presentation since the now almost black syrup holds its shape rather than becoming a uniform brown coating on the berries. You can also drizzle the syrup on the empty dessert plates and the place the strawberries on top.

**Note: Cooking while listening to music and singing at the top of my lungs makes me really happy, so here on in, I'll be giving you suggestions for "music to cook by". Hope it inspires you as much as it does me.


Blogger Lotus Reads said...

If only I had come upon your post 10 mins earlier! I gave my family strawberries with chocolate fondue for dessert, but I would have enjoyed trying it with balsamic vinegar. Maybe next time. Thanks for the great suggestion! I also look forward to the some suggestions for music to cook by - it will make a change from the "talk radio" that I am forever listening to! :)

3:58 AM  
Blogger Kalyn Denny said...

This does sound just fantastic. I marinated some peppers in balsamic vinegar today and they were wonderful. It's really a versatile ingredient, don't you think?

4:28 AM  
Blogger Tracie P. said...

and i'm sure you've had the real stuff--the syrupy, viscous real stuff. just a drop can cause an absolute explosion of flavors--a couple of drops on a hunk of parmiggiano and GOOD GOOD MY MOUTH IS WATERIN' ALREADY!

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first time I had strawberries with balsamic was at my sis-in-law who is of course, italian. It was divine!

Regarding your comment on the puerto rican foodstuffs. I'm sure that the immigrants brought everything over, it's only a few items that hit it "big" with the rest of the melting pot ethnicities and went on to become all-time favorites. The only ones that come to mind are pasteles, gandule rice, and panedeja (spell?). My boss refers to the patele stew by another name of which I have a hard time remembering. Heh heh, which is probably why he just calls it patele stew for everyone else!

4:26 AM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Lotus, about music, what do you the mix of traditional Indian music with pop and hip-hop? Cornershop, for example?
Kalyn, you know, I'm finnicky (sp?) about balsamic. Over strawberries is about the only place where, to me, balsamic is the best vinegar choice. Do you have any recipes that could convert me??
Tracie, yea, I was at a wedding in Modena where, as part of the "pranzo", they served each guest a teeny-tiny spoonful of the greatest balsamic, 1 very expensive bottle served the whole wedding party, just like that on a spoon with nothing. It was amazing!
Rowena,it's telling how these PR dishes are spelled/pronounced in Hawaii, often without the s. An accent trait of PR Spanish is to aspirate the s and say, "pah-teleh" and not "pas-teles" and that trait carried over. Neat. (Sorry I'm obsessing, I studied PR Lit. and culture for years and I miss it!)

12:28 PM  
Blogger Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Susan!

I LOVE the "Cornershop" sound and music like that is very popular in the clubs here, but even more popular in the UK I would imagine. However, when listening to music at home, I prefer a gentler kind of fusion - like Asha Bhosle with the "Kronos Quartet" or "Autorickshaw" which is an Indian-Canadian Jazz band. Won't blame you if you haven't heard of either! ;)

3:58 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Lotus,
Whenever we have a dinner party and I make Indian food (and I proudly dish out a meat, a dal and a curried veg! Proudly!) all we play is Cornershop because its the only "Indian" music we have. I have heard of Asha Bhosle (HEARD, though; had no idea her last name wasn't spelled "Bosley":)) But Autorikshaw, I've never heard of. There was a dance hit with Indian backbeats about 3 years ago and unfortunately, I remember neither the mane of the group nor the song, not even a catchy line from it. It was great, though. I have the feeling that if I could describe it in some way to you, you could tell me what it was.

10:39 PM  
Blogger Lotus Reads said...

Hey, Susan!

If you like jazz, even an incy-wincy teensy bit, you'll love "Autorickshaw". They are a 4-piece band and the lead singer, Suba Sankaran, is trained both in South Indian classical music and western jazz, so when she fuses the two together it is just AWESOME!

2:41 PM  

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