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Try strawberries in mojitos, lemony muffins

There are still a couple of weeks left for strawberry season in the Pacific Northwest.

And, if you’re like me, you want to take full advantage of the summery, succulent and short-lived bounty.

Lush, juicy and sometimes plum-size, strawberries abound in this region from mid-June through mid-July, adding gorgeous color and sweetness to whatever they touch.

Muddled with mint, they seem to make a classic mojito even more refreshing. Hulled and chopped into bite-size bits, they turn basic muffins into summertime-tinged treats.

That’s how I’ve been enjoying them lately.

The fruit keeps the muffins moist, and lemon gives the otherwise sort of bland batter a little zing. The effect is reminiscent of strawberry lemonade.

This recipe calls for 2 cups of strawberries, but I like to throw in a little extra so the muffins are positively bursting with berries. It also asks for Meyer lemon; I usually only have regular lemons on hand, so that’s what I’ve been using – and they work just fine.

Flecked with red ruby-like pieces, these luscious, golden pastries make the ultimate midsummer-morning snack. They look gorgeous in a basket on the brunch table. In addition to being pretty, they’re super-portable, perfect for packing a picnic or desk lunch at work.

Traditionally made with white rum, muddled mint and lime juice, mojitos are inherently thirst-quenching. Strawberries make the cool, citrusy concoction simultaneously sweeter and more tart, perfect for sipping midsummer on your front porch or fire escape.

Meyer Lemon Strawberry Muffins

From www.mybaking addiction.com, which adapted the recipe from “The Joy of Cooking”

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated white sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Zest and juice of one Meyer lemon

1 large egg, lightly beaten

3/4 cup buttermilk

2/3 cup safflower or canola oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups chopped, fresh strawberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Position rack in center of oven. Butter or spray a dozen 2¾-by-1½-inch muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large measuring cup or bowl whisk together the egg, buttermilk, oil, lemon juice and vanilla extract.

In another large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon zest. Gently fold in the berries. With a rubber spatula fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir only until the ingredients are combined. Do not over-mix the batter or tough muffins will result.

Fill each muffin cup almost full of batter, using two spoons or an ice cream scoop. Place in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for about 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Notes:

• Don’t have buttermilk? Pour 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a glass measuring cup and fill with milk to equal 1 cup total. Stir and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes; use as directed for the recipe.

• If using frozen berries, you may have to bake the muffins a little longer than the stated time.

• MyBakingAddiction also recommends that you not store the muffins in a sealed container; the crowns became very moist and the authors were not a fan of this textural change.

Yield: 12 muffins

Strawberry Mojito

By Adeena Sussman from Fine Cooking at finecooking.com

2 3/4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup granulated sugar

10 large fresh mint leaves

1 cup white or amber rum

1 cup seltzer

Mint sprigs, lime wedges or fresh strawberries, to garnish

In a medium pitcher, combine the strawberries, lime juice, sugar and mint leaves, and crush with a muddler or wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Add the rum and stir gently.

Fill 4 rocks glasses three-quarters full with ice, divide the mojito among them, and top each with about ¼ cup seltzer. Garnish with mint sprigs, lime wedges or strawberries.

Serves: 4



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