Ina Garten

Foolproof Favorites from Famous Chefs - Balsamic Strawberries

I went to the farmer's market in Solvang yesterday.I was buying some green beans and the friendly farmer handed me two ripe strawberries to taste.  So I did.  I had no need for strawberries and was rushing home to start prepping for a dinner party last night.  The peach dessert was already made and vanilla ice cream in the freezer.  I had blueberries and raspberries in my market bag. The last thing I needed was more fresh ripe fruit.  I told the farmer I would take three baskets.

Did he look at me and just know I wouldn't be able to resist? Or did he know that his fruit was so sweet, so beautifully sun-ripened that no one could resist? To top off my bounty, when I got home I discovered the kind farmer had added an extra basket to my bag!  It was no mistake because the 3-packs were already boxed so he didn't count wrong.  He purposely added an extra basket to my bag! Are the farmers always so nice in Solvang?

Anyway, my beautiful baskets of strawberries brought me to a favorite recipe from Ina Garten...strawberries with balsamic vinegar.  This is such a delightful and deliciously-fresh summer dessert, I find myself returning to it year after year, and so it is on my list of Foolproof Favorites from Famous Chefs.  The Barefoot Contessa strikes again.

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"I don't believe in 'greatest'.  I believe in favorites." -Steve Vai

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Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar (Ina Garten)

8 cups fresh strawberries, sliced thick 5 T balsamic vinegar 2 T sugar 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper 2 pints vanilla ice cream for serving freshly grated lemon zest for serving

Thirty minutes to an hour before serving, combine strawberries, vinegar, sugar and pepper in a bowl.  Set aside at room temperature. Place a serving of strawberries in a bowl with a scoop of ice cream on top and dust lightly with lemon zest.

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Foolproof Favorites From Famous Chefs: Lemon Curd

Lemons, lemons, lemons.  I've got so many lemons!I have always loved the smell of lemon, and all citrus for that matter.  When I was a young girl, there was a lotion in a tall thin glass bottle that was the scent of lemon.  It was $2 a bottle, and I was too young to make my own money so I only remember ever having one bottle of the lemon lotion, but it seemed that some of my friends had it too.  It smelled soooo good and I would pour out a dab into my hands and rub them together, inhaling the fresh citrus scent.  To this day, whenever I smell a bath or body product with the scent of lemon, I think of that glass bottle of lemon lotion.

My love for lemons has never waned since my childhood.  When I chose the plants for my garden, it is not surprising that I selected lots of lemon trees.  Meyer lemons, eureka lemons, lemon-limes, pink lemons.  They are all so pretty and smell so nice.

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But I can only use so many lemons in my cooking so I started looking around for other ways to use my abundance of lemons.  I have made lemonade and lemon bread (obvious) and preserved lemons (pretty in the jar but I didn't cook with them much) but I finally discovered my favorite way to use my lemons is Lemon Curd.

Lemon Curd is like a sweet citrus jam butter.  It tastes like summer sun on a spoon.  I think it is delicious mixed into yogurt, or on toast or with granola.  I have even used  this recipe, my favorite by the great Ina Garten, to make a lemon tart.  It is so delicious, I have been caught eating a straight spoonful, or three.  Sweet, light, tart and fresh, a bit of lemon curd can take me right back to the delight of the lemon lotion of my youth.

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“I believe when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade...and try to find someone whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.”  -Ron White

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Lemon Curd (Ina Garten)

3 lemons 1-1/2 cups sugar 1/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature 4 extra-large eggs 1/2 cup cup lemon juice  1/8 tsp kosher salt

Using a carrot peeler, remove the zest of 3 lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith.  Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade.   Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture.   Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt.  Mix until combined. Pour the mixture into a 2-quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10-15 minutes) stirring constantly.  The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees or just below simmer. Remove from the heat and cool, then refrigerate.

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