On my last day of exams in Florence in May 1992, my roommate Shannon and I agreed to celebrate the completion of the semester with a bottle of prosecco. We met outside the Villa Rossa and made our way to the Mercato Centrale where we found a bottle of prosecco and some plastic cups. Then we headed upstairs to the produce section. The vendors were closing up, but we found one gentleman who had a large box of gorgeous strawberries. It was the end if the day and the end of strawberry season and apparently we were as sweet as those berries because he gave us the whole box for 2,000 lire (about $1.50). We returned to the villa Rossa and sat in the courtyard indulging in bubbly and the most flavorful strawberries I had ever eaten in my life. The funny thing is, we couldn't have done that if we had studied in Florence for the fall semester. There would have been no berries. Maybe we would have paired the prosecco with grapes or pomegranates (both suitable replacements I might add). Italians take seasonal eating very seriously, and so should you. Seasonal eating means exceptional flavor, flavor the way it is meant to be.
It's strawberry season here in Connecticut and there will be picking for another week or so. I have been taking advantage and making as much as I can with the beautiful berries. I long for the fragole del bosco in Italy's - they are tiny berries bursting with flavor and are served with lemon or a scoop of vanilla gelato. These are not to be found here in the US so I make due and use the smallest berries which are always the most flavorful. In the past week I have made the most of the bounty making scones and refreshing aperitifs. This weekend I am going to attempt strawberry gelato. I have included the recipes for all three below. I hope you still have strawberries and can take advantage of the season to make some of these treats.
Strawberry Scones (adapted from Martha Stewart's Scone recipe)
2 cups flour
3 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbs. cold unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries (I freeze them before adding to the batter so they don't bleed throughout)
1/3 cup heavy cream
Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until pea size balls form. Stir in the strawberries gently. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the eggs and heavy cream that have been lightly beaten together. Gently incorporate the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Once they are mostly combined, finish with your hands. On a lightly floured board, form the mixture into a square and cut the scones into 8 triangles. . Place on a cookie sheet, brush with cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
Strawberry Prosecco Cooler
Place 1/4 cup sliced strawberries in a cocktail glass. Add 1 tbs simple syrup (made from equal parts sugar and water combined over med heat until sugar melts then increase heat and bring to a boil. Let cool.). Muddle berries with the handle of a wooden spoon. Add a lemon slice and muddle again . Add lots of ice and top with 6oz of prosecco. Enjoy!!
(I hope this works. It's a new recipe for me - I will keep you posted!)