Posts Tagged ‘summer’

Say Goodbye to Strawberries

July 8, 2013
icebox cake slice

a slice of strawberry icebox cake ready to enjoy

The strawberry season in the Midatlantic region is so short but so sweet. For about one month I eat as many of them as I can get my hands on, making pie, jam, bread, muffins, but mostly eating them whole. Even that last not-so-perfect batch of strawberries is worth savoring, although as they start to turn mushy it’s harder to pick them up and eat them. Fortunately, the Fair Food Farmstand gave a wonderful suggestion for how best to use them: icebox cake.

To my knowledge, icebox cakes were all the rage in the 50s. The Kitchn recommends them for Summer since you don’t have to bake anything. I was intrigued by the transformation of crackers, fruit, and cream to a single cake entity. The individual ingredients are tasty but could they really be called a cake? And how good could it be? Turns out it’s wonderful! Plus a chilled cake straight from the fridge is a nice finish to a hot Summer barbecue.

icebox cake

the finished product. although the chocolate didn’t “drizzle” it still tasted great!

No-Bake Strawberry Icebox Cake

from The Kitchn

  • 2 lbs strawberries
  • 3¼ c heavy cream
  • ⅓ c powdered sugar
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 24 graham crackers
  • 2 oz chocolate
  1. Save 3-6 pretty strawberries for garnish and slice the rest of them.
  2. Whip 3c of heavy cream until it forms stiff peaks.
  3. Whip in powdered sugar and vanilla until blended.
  4. Cover the bottom of a 9"x13" baking pan with a layer of whipped cream.
  5. Layer the graham crackers, whipped cream, then strawberry slices 3 times.
  6. Top the cake with the last of the whipped cream and strawberry slices.
  7. Heat the remaining cream until bubbles form around the edge.
  8. Pour the heated cream over the chocolate and stir to combine.
  9. Drizzle the chocolate mixture over the cake.
  10. Chill in the refrigerator (or icebox!) for at least 4 hours.

Notes and Variations

I made a lot of variations to the original recipe from The Kitchn. I had strawberries but I only bought 1 pint which was not quite 1lb. I had milk but not heavy cream. I had chocolate but only semisweet. So I used a smaller baking dish (it was only eaten by two people anyway) and decided that frosting was similar enough to whipped cream, just a bit denser.

icebox cake - pre-chocolate

Icebox cake ready for chocolate drizzle. I experimented with frosting instead of whipped cream.

The result was definitely denser, probably richer, but extremely tasty! So here’s my entire variation on the recipe which came about partially from not having the right ingredients and partially because I read the recipe then just made something similar.

  • 1 lb strawberries
  • ¼ c milk
  • ½ c butter
  • 2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 T grand marnier (or other fruity alcohol)
  • 12 graham crackers
  • 2 oz chocolate
  1. Save 3-6 pretty strawberries for garnish and slice the rest of them.
  2. Whip the butter until creamy.
  3. Add the powdered sugar and milk and whip until blended.
  4. Whip in the vanilla and grand marnier.
  5. Layer the graham crackers, frosting, then strawberry slices 3 times.
  6. Top the cake with the last of the frosting and the remaining whole strawberries.
  7. Melt the chocolate and drizzle over the cake.
  8. Chill in the refrigerator (or icebox!) for at least 4 hours.

Last Days of Summer

September 10, 2010

Although I didn’t get to experience clam digging this year, I picked some up from the fish market. After tasting them at the shore, I couldn’t resist buying a dozen. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to bring home any produce after loading my bag with seafood. However, I remembered a small packet of bacon in the freezer and was able to create a wonderful steamed clam concotion.

Steamed Clams with Bacon

Steamed clams with bacon and onions served over pasta.

Steamed Clams


  • 1 dozen little neck clams
  • 2 pieces bacon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ onion
  • 1 c white wine
  • 2 c chicken stock
  • 2 sage leaves
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 4 white peppercorns
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T flour

Special Equipment

steaming rack, to keep clams above the liquid when cooking

  1. Sautee chopped bacon in a pot until the fat is rendered (melted).
  2. Add sliced onions and sautee until soft.
  3. Add crushed garlic cloves and cook until fragrant.
  4. Add wine to loosen what has stuck to the bottom of the pot.
  5. Add stock, sage, thyme, and peppercorns and bring to a boil.
  6. Drop the heat to a simmer, add a steaming rack, and place the clams on the steaming rack.
  7. Steam for about 5 mintues, until the clams are open.
  8. Remove clams when done.
  9. Melt butter and stir in flour until blended.
  10. Add butter and flour mixture to liquid in the pot and stir to combine.
  11. Let the liquid simmer for a few minutes to thicken up.
  12. Serve the clams over pasta covered with the sauce and a side of bread to soak up the liquid.

This is the first time I have attempted to steam clams. Why? I’m not sure. Clams are delicious. This recipe is very easy. I suppose clams aren’t depicted as glamorous, like oysters, or precious, like crab. These omissions are great reasons to steam some clams before they hibernate for the winter. As for variations in this recipe? Pancetta or chorizo would be a great subsitute for bacon. This is such a standard combination of flavors in so many cultures that I think it is a bad idea to mess with a good thing, for once. However, if you discover another great combination of flavors, please share!

A Difficult Decision

August 20, 2010

One of the hardest decision for me happens daily but is exasperated when going to a potluck dinner:

what should I cook?

The reason this decision is so difficult is because there are nearly endless possibilities. I’ve found the best tactic is to go to the market and pick out a starting ingredient. Most recently I went to the market only 3 hours before the potluck dinner. While this assured that the food would be fresh, it left me with very little time to actually cook. What I settled on was a medley of fresh vegetables grilled and chopped up into a salad. Luckily it turned out great and even prompted request for the recipe! Because really, how can you go wrong with fresh vegetables?

Summer Quinoa Salad

created on-the-fly by Sarah Johnson


  • ½ c quinoa
  • 3 ears corn
  • 2 poblano pepper
  • ½ red onion
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • ¼ c lime juice
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T chili powder
  1. Bring quinoa and 1 cup of water to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Remove silk from corn but leave the husks on.
  3. Soak corn for 10-15 minutes, drain, and broil or grill about 15 minutes turning to prevent burning.
  4. Remove kernels from cob.
  5. Dice pepper.
  6. Slice red onion into rings.
  7. Coat onion with olive oil then broil or grill for 5-10 minutes turning to prevent burning.
  8. Dice onion.
  9. Cut tomatoes into halves or quarters depending on size.
  10. Combine lime juice and olive oil.
  11. Combine all vegetables and quinoa and mix with chili powder.
  12. Cover mixture with juice and stir salad to combine.

Endless! The beauty of a simple salad such as this is that you can use any vegetables and any spices. Use different types of peppers, add roasted garlic, add fresh cilantro, use lemon juice instead of lime juice. Have fun and use your taste to make it delicious and your own.