Locally grown fruits inspire fresh culinary ideas

    1 of 2 2 of 2

      Summertime in B.C. typically means an abundance of glorious fresh fruit, from juicy peaches and dark-red cherries to the fuzziest of apricots and pretty, bright strawberries. Rather than stock up on imported produce, seek out B.C. goodness at grocery stores, farms, and fruit stands.

      Strawberry season is all over the calendar this year, thanks to the weather; their readiness depends on where they’re being grown. Wherever and whenever you do find them, B.C. strawberries are thimbles of fresh-tasting perfection—true simple pleasures. Eat them mindfully: notice their gorgeous hue and fragrance before popping them in your mouth, one at a time, closing your eyes to concentrate solely on the sweet juice. They need nothing to be enjoyed.

      On the other hand, there are all sorts of deliciously creative ways to incorporate B.C. fruit into your baking and cooking. Here’s some inspiration from a handful of culinary talents.

      Strawberry, Rhubarb, and Rose Frangipane Tart
      Amy Ho

      Amy Ho, founder of the Constellation Inspiration blog, shares a recipe for Strawberry, Rhubarb, and Rose Frangipane Tart in her recently released cookbook, Blooms and Baking: Add Aromatic, Floral Flavors to Cakes, Cookies, Candies and More. “This is the dessert I make the most in the summertime,” she writes. “No other dessert even comes close to this one.” It features a buttery crust, almond frangipane filling, a layer of sweet and tangy strawberry-rhubarb-rose compote, and roasted rhubarb. For the tart pictured in her book, she picked the berries herself at Krause Berry Farms and Estate Winery in Langley.

      Ripe Vancouver Island fruit plays a starring role in Michelle Schulze’s Panna Cotta With Balsamic Strawberries, a recipe from the recently released BC Wine Lover’s Cookbook: Recipes & Stories From Wineries Across British Columbia by Jennifer Schell. Schulze is a member of the family behind Venturi-Schulze Vineyards in Cobble Hill, where they make not only several varieties of wine but also their own balsamic vinegar. In this dish, a pound of strawberries along with two teaspoons of berry sugar and two teaspoons of balsamic vinegar marinate in the fridge for 90 minutes, then are brought to room temperature before being spooned atop the creamy dessert, garnished with fresh mint sprigs.

      At Vancouver restaurant Say Mercy!, executive chef Sean Reeve took some of the tastes and textures from his favourite summertime desserts and turned them into his Snow Cone Salad. He chips a granita made of Odd Society Spirits’ Mongrel moonshine over strawberries, beets, and rhubarb, finishing everything off with a honey vinaigrette. It’s summer in a colourful bowl.

      Other ideas? Add strawberries to a butter lettuce with feta, red onion, avocado, and lime vinaigrette; use them with any other berries or fruit you have on hand for an old-fashioned crumble; and make an easy galette. Fresh berries can also be added to muffins, scones, banana bread, pound cake, or cinnamon buns, or you can purée them to fold into batter for next-level chocolate-chip cookies or madeleines.