Thursday, November 30, 2006

Stuffed Strawberries

My wife had her first photo shoot for the recipe book she is making today. In honor of this I thought I would post one of her fave recipes which will feature in the book. For now you will have to make do with my photography, but we will update in due course.

From the book:

Strawberry Dreams

When my mother-in-law turned 60 we decided to throw her a surprise party. The menu was set to be finger food and one of my very favorite creations was to be endives topped with blue cheese and spicy candied pecans. the evening before the party I started to stress, we had one small packet of endives and I just didn't know if it was going to be enough to serve all the guests, I needed an alternative vessel. I went to sleep in a fit of panic and during the night I dreamed of nothing but food and catering and recipes. When I awoke I had dreamed a new recipe. Everything from my dream I could remember clearly- hollowing out fat juicy strawberries, reducing onions in a thick gloop of balsamic vinegar, topping the dish with a crunchy spicy pecan. Of all the things I make this dish is the one which receives the most comments and recipe requests, people always ask where the recipe came from and I simply tell them- I dreamed it!

For the Balsamic Reduction

2 large onions thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 cups balsamic vinegar

For the Candied Pecans

1 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup sugar
1tbsp lemon juice
dash of water
1 tsp chili powder

For the rest

25 strawberries
1/2 cup of gongonzola

Start by making the balsamic reduction. Fry up the onions until they are lovely and caramelized, sweet to taste. Then pour in the balsamic until it covers the onions plus some. leave to simmer until it gets thick and gloopy- you may need to add more vinegar. I like to simmer for an hour or so.

The most tricky part is the candied pecans . You basically just throw all the ingredients in a pan and heat on a medium setting. The sugar will melt and you will need to keep stirring for 10-15 minutes or so, coating all the pecans. I like to test one to see if they are done, the pecans should be crunchy but of course not burnt, the coating should be clear and shiny, in no way granular. Once they are done spread the pecans quickly on a piece of parchment, separating one from another with a fork- work fast or they will all stick together. If they do stick together you can reheat and start over.

One the pecans are done you can start to assemble the strawberries. Start by chopping of the top of the berry and lopping a tiny bit off the base so it can stand upright. then carefully hollow out the center of the berry. Stuff first with the balsamic onions, then with some blue cheese and finally top with a candied pecan. Beautiful and tasty!

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