High Hat Café’s Fresh Strawberry Pie

The part of the strawberry that’s usually discarded is used in this pie, so read the directions before prepping them.

Makes 2 pies.

Two 8- or 9-inch pie crusts, baked and cooled

3 pounds Louisiana strawberries

1 cup sugar

2 envelopes gelatin (about ½ ounce)

3 tablespoons cornstarch

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Optional: Whipped cream for serving

1. Remove just the green leaves from the tops of the berries, then cut off a small slice, ¼ inch or less, from the stem end. (If strawberries have white areas at the top, include that part in your slice.) Halve the berries.

2. In a small bowl, combine the tops with sugar and let sit for 10 minutes. Mix in 1 cup water, cornstarch and salt. Puree in a food processor or blender.

3. Sprinkle gelatin packets across 1 cup cold water to bloom.

4. Pour puree into a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Lower heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Add bloomed gelatin, vanilla and lemon juice. Whisk to blend thoroughly.

5. Pile halved berries into baked pie crusts. Cover evenly with the strawberry gelatin mix. Shimmy the pies gently on the countertop to make sure berries are all covered in liquid and there are no air pockets.

6. Refrigerate at least two hours before serving. High Hat Café serves the pie with whipped cream.


Roasted Balsamic Strawberry Jam, and Syrup

This is unbelievably easy and good. The lagniappe is the syrup.

Makes about 1 cup jam and ½ cup syrup

3 to 4 pints strawberries, hulled

½ cup sugar

2 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar

1. Halve strawberries and combine with sugar in a large bowl. Mix well and let sit while heating oven to 250 F. When oven reaches temperature, spread the berries in an even single layer in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Pour balsamic vinegar evenly over the strawberries.

2. Bake 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. At about 90 minutes, spoon off some of the liquid to make the berries roast more evenly. At 2 hours, they’ll be darkened, thickened and slightly shrunken. Make sure to save all of the liquid.

3. To make into jam, mash berries, adding enough of the syrup to get the consistency you like. Refrigerate jam, berries and syrup up to 2 weeks. (Roasted berries can also be enjoyed whole.)

Variation — Creole Mustard Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette: Combine in a small jar or shaker some of the syrup with an equal amount of extra-virgin olive oil, ¼ to ½ teaspoon Creole mustard, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Shake to emulsify. Taste and add more syrup or seasoning as needed. Refrigerate until serving.


Strawberry, Goat Cheese and Pecan Salad

Inspired by a recent special menu item at High Hat Café in New Orleans, where it was served with Creole mustard vinaigrette. Today's Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette would also make a tasty dressing. This recipe uses half spinach and half leafy greens, but can be changed to your tastes.  

Makes 4 servings

4 cups mixed leafy greens

4 cups spinach

1 cup sliced strawberries

2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

½ cup toasted chopped pecans

Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing to taste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large salad bowl, toss greens, spinach, berries, goat cheese and pecans lightly with about 1 to 2 ounces dressing. Season with salt and pepper, adjust seasonings and dressing to taste. Serve immediately. 

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