Balsamic Strawberries with Cashew Pastry Cream
Things have been a bit busy as of late with prepping for the Animal Acres Gala, baking for the Hollywood Farmers’ Market, and shipping orders from the online store. With so much time being spent in the kitchen, it’s been a while since I’ve really cooked an elaborate meal. One of our favorite things to do is have people over for dinner, and sadly, this year that’s been more the exception than the norm. But I’m trying to be better about that, and the other night we had some friends over for dinner and made some fun things. More on what we served coming in later posts, but I wanted to start with the best part of the any meal, dessert!
I’ve already written about one of my favorite summertime desserts, Berry Parfaits, and this is basically just a different take on that same idea. I’ve always wanted to try strawberries with balsamic vinegar, but you really need to use the kind of balsamic vinegar that I’d only ever read about. Its cost can range anywhere from about thirty to literally hundreds of dollars, so I figured it would be a while before I’d be able to justify that kind of expense.
Enter the Woodman Ave. Farmers Market and a stand next to us selling Leonardo e Roberto’s Gourmet Blends. For five hours we would listen to the sales woman call out to the people walking by, “Do you want to try the best balsamic vinegar EVER?!” After hours and hours of that refrain, we finally broke down and tried the different vinegars and flavored oils. And it really was the best balsamic vinegar ever, or at least that I’d tried. But the best part is that it’s really affordable. A 6-ounce bottle costs just $18, which might seem pricey until you realize how much this stuff can run you, and also know that you really don’t need a lot of it since it’s so flavorful.
Enough of me sounding like a commercial (I did pay for my bottle, and they have no idea that I’m writing this about them – BUT if they want to give me free stuff for writing this, you know I’m going to take it.) How did it taste with the berries? Really, really good. It’s not overpowering at all, and it somehow just goes perfectly with the strawberries. I used the same recipe for cashew pastry cream from Nonna’s Italian Kitchen (again, I can’t recommend this book enough), but this time I left out the amaretto and just used the vanilla and lemon extracts. A Michael Chiarello recipe that I used as a guide for the berries gave me the idea to sprinkle the crumbled pistachio aniseed biscotti on top.
3 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered (or halved if small)
2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon unrefined sugar (or more if your berries are not too sweet)
pinch of black pepper
pinch of sea salt
Mix berries with vinegar, sugar, pepper and salt. Let marinate at room temperature for at least half an hour or up to two hours. Layer over pastry cream just before serving.
Note: These would also be great served over non-dairy yogurt or ice cream.