It’s a certain sign of spring: roadside strawberry vendors have appeared. Last week, entire flats of berries sold for $18; by Sunday, the price dropped to $15. I bought half a flat, stuffed myself silly, then concocted a strawberry tart to use up even more fruit. (When the price drops a bit more, I’ll make jam.)
When cooked, the texture of strawberries tends toward the slimy, so they’re not my first choice for a traditional, baked fruit pie. Fortunately, a solution for soggy strawberries is at hand: I recently discovered Instant Clear Jel, a modified food starch perfect for thickening uncooked fruit. ICJ, a white powder, is made from waxy corn (see King Arthur Flour to purchase), and it requires no heat to set or thicken. When mixed with liquid, it creates a soft, clinging gel without the rubberiness of gelatin or the gluey sliminess of cornstarch.
After baking a chocolate tart crust (9 T frozen butter cut into small bits, 1-1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup almond flour and 1/4 cocoa powder, pulsed in a food processor until mealy; add 1 egg yolk and pulse until dough clings together; press into a tart pan; freeze for 30 minutes, then bake for 25-30 minutes at 360), I sliced two pints of washed strawberries and sprinkled them with 1 T sugar to draw out the juices.
Twenty minutes later, when ample berry juices had collected at the bottom of the bowl, I stirred in 2 T Instant Clear Jel powder mixed with 1 T sugar. The ICJ thickens within seconds as it hydrates and the sugar dissolves. After thorough stirring, the filling was ready to pile into the cooled, baked tart crust; topped with a restrained swirl of unsweetened, whipped cream, it was a dinner-party-worthy dessert.
Instant Clear Jel can be used as a thickener for cooked fruit pies and to make home-canned apple pie filling. (Though I’m sure modernist cuisine/molecular gastronomists have found uses for this stuff far beyond my simple pie filling.)
Try strawberry dumplings. Just like blackberry dumplings, without the small seeds.
Do you make your dumplings with Bisquick or from scratch? I’m looking for a good buttermilk dumpling recipe.
Hey, I tried the smothered round steak and it was GREAT!!!
Nothing like rice n gravy to make your belly happy!