And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer. ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
Summer is finally upon us here in Georgia. The grasses and gardens are lush and green and best of all, the Farmers’ Markets are filled with beautiful fresh and local produce that inspires quick, easy, and healthy summer meals. A simple grilled meat, an ear of super sweet crisp corn, and wonderful fresh green beans are enough to satisfy the soul at the end of a long day. Followed by a dessert that includes fresh fruit, a simple dinner can become a memorable one.
Strawberries are one of my favorite early summer fruits and for a short time, local strawberries are abundant in the Farmers’ Markets. The season for strawberries in Georgia is brief, so I like to make strawberry jams, strawberry ice cream and gelato, and freeze some to recall those summer memories during the dreary days of winter. Of course, the best way to eat a gorgeous ripe and sweet juicy strawberry is to just pop it in your mouth and let those flavors explode.
Inspired by a strawberry dessert that we recently enjoyed at Chef Ken Vedrinski’s Trattatoria Lucca in Charleston, I recreated this perfect summertime treat at home. Chef Vedrinski had paired a Strawberry Olive Oil Cake with Strawberry Gelato and a Strawberry Compote and it was fabulous. The version I made at home was slightly different, but excellent.
I made this olive oil cake with California Olive Ranch Olive Oil. Olive oils from around the world have unique characteristics. Some are soft and fruity (California and Italy) while others have more spice (Spain and Greece). Even within countries, olive oil takes on the taste of the local region and has nuances much like wine. We will be experiencing the many flavors of olive oil on our upcoming culinary adventure in the Mediterranean.
This particular olive oil has a soft and mild taste of fruit with a peppery after note on the back of the throat. It was perfect combined with fresh rosemary from the garden and the zest from a lemon and an orange. I liked the citrus and herbal flavors with the bit of pepper in the olive oil. The cake has a delightful texture and is slightly sweet, with characteristics of a pound cake, but it’s not as heavy. It paired beautifully with the sweetness and fruit of the strawberry gelato and fresh strawberries. A perfect way to end a summertime dinner, this dessert has become a new favorite.
On another note, summer is a very busy time for most of us and this year it will be particularly busy for me and Mr. B. We have started a small organic garden in a raised bed along with a number of pots with tomatoes and herbs. We will have challenges as we try to maintain the garden along with our travel schedule, so it will be interesting to see how this all works out. I will post an update as we start to harvest some of the herbs and produce we are growing.
We are also very excited to be collaborating with Seabourn Cruise Line for one of our On The Road culinary adventures as we head to Europe in September. It was the trip we took to Europe on Seabourn in October 2009 which was the inspiration for Bunkycooks, so this seems like a perfect fit to align with this particular cruise line. We have an incredible itinerary planned with on board special events and shore excursions to experience the Mediterranean. We hope that you will consider joining us!
We also have a number of other trips planned in the coming months and look forward to bringing home some interesting stories and suggstions for places to visit from our travels. In addition, we have taken on a few very exciting projects that will require a lot of our attention and focus, so there may be some shorter posts with quicker recipes along with the usual travel and chef articles as we try and manage the many projects and trips for the foreseeable future.
Take some time away from your busy summer schedule, make a trip to the Farmers’ Market, purchase some of the season’s best strawberries, and make this dessert. You and your guests will be thrilled you did.
Have a great weekend!
For the Strawberry Gelato recipe, please refer to this link on Bunkycooks.
For more strawberry recipes, you might enjoy:
* Disclosure – California Olive Ranch sent me two bottles and some packets of their olive oil to try. I had already purchased this bottle and was enjoying the flavor of their olive oil before receiving the samples.
Olive Oil Cake with Strawberry Gelato and Macerated Strawberries
Yield: 8 - 10 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
The wonderful combination of flavors and textures makes the perfect summertime dessert. Make the Strawberry Gelato early in the day so that it will be ready to serve in the evening. When preparing the macerated strawberries, do not let them sit too long. You just want the sugar to sweeten them a bit and have some of their natural juices come out. If they sit too long, the texture, color, and flavor of the strawberries will be compromised.
For the cake:
Olive oil cooking spray
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
3 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Confectioners' sugar for dusting
For the Macerated Strawberries:
1 pound fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 to 2 Tablespoons sugar, to taste
To make the cake:
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick olive oil cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and spray the paper with nonstick olive oil spray.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together.
3. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and rosemary. Add the orange and lemon zest then rub the mixture between your fingertips until it is moist and fragrant. Add the eggs ad using an electric mixer beat on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes, or until pale and thick. Beat in the milk. Gradually beat in the olive oil. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour mixture just until blended. Spread the batter in the pan.
4. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with moist crumbs attached. Let cool in the pan on a wire cake rack for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack and remove and discard the paper. Invert the cake, right side up, onto a cake plate.
To make the strawberries:
1. About a half hour before serving, combine the strawberries with the sugar, to taste, in a medium bowl. Cover and let sit at room temperature. Stir the strawberries and taste to see if you need to add more sugar.
2. If not serving immediately, place the strawberries in the refrigerator until ready to use, but for no more than several hours.
To serve dessert:
Sprinkle the cake with confectioners' sugar and cut into serving pieces. Place each slice on a plate and add a scoop of Strawberry Gelato and a couple spoonfuls of macerated strawberries. Serve immediately.
Cake recipe adapted from Huffington Post