The family and I headed out for an after-dinner walk the other night. We started down the driveway and made our way along the field when someone keenly spied the motherload. Our field was surprisingly filled with sweet, red, wild strawberries perfect for the pickin’ and eatin’.
Suddenly a walk was the last thing on our minds as the strawberry field beckoned us. An hour later, my daughter Autumn and I returned from the field with containers full of the sweetest and reddest lil’ strawberries you ever did see. As we picked, we talked about the different delicacies we might make and ultimately I left it to Autumn to come up with a recipe.
The next morning Autumn awoke and headed to the kitchen. First order of business was cleaning up the berries. She had decided on a plan. Wild strawberry, lemon verbena & rosemary tarts. Yum is right! She headed out to the garden and picked some lemon verbena and rosemary to complete the treat.
Cooking With Kids
The thing I have noticed about cooking with kids is that they are naturally creative. They often have no preconceived ideas of flavor pairings or sweet vs. savory. In my mind, rosemary and garlic are a match made in heaven and I can’t even count on one finger the times that I have tried to split them up. Nunca. None. Never. But not the kids, they simply create what appeals to them. Don’t get me wrong, because I know from experience this can go really wrong, however, that is part of the learning and sometimes where the greatest teaching moments come from. We all have experienced moments when we have learned more from our failures than our successes, right? Well that holds true in the kitchen as well. I am happy to report though that this recipe was not a failure, cuz’ it tasted soooo good. It was a bright and sweet summer treat!
Autumn’s recipe is listed below. She made a basic pie dough and used a mason jar lid to cut out circles and create the mini-tart bottoms that went into a muffin tin. After cleaning the berries, about 2 cups, she mushed them in a bowl along with the flour, some chopped lemon verbena and rosemary and a pinch of salt. These berries were super sweet so she opted not to add sugar though if your berries aren’t that sweet you could add a tablespoon or so into the mix.
The dough was filled with the berry mix and placed into a preheated oven to cook. These were amazing. The sweet strawberry flavor was highlighted by a touch of the aromatic, piney rosemary and was all wrapped up in a buttery, rich and flaky crust. I can’t underestimate the pride I felt at watching my girl do her thing in the kitchen and enjoying herself and her creation as well! That is the taste of sweet success.
Happy baking! If kids can cook, we can all cook! We only must be willing to work on accepting the failures that will sometimes result so that we are encouraged to keep trying. Trust me, we’ve had our share of “garbage-can creations” and that’s what makes these sweet successes even more meaningful! Oh, and teaching kids the art of clean-up—that’s another story!
Wild Strawberry and Garden Rosemary Tarts
Basic Butter Flaky Crust Recipe
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and chunk sized
1/4 cup ice water
2 cups strawberries, washed and diced
1 ½ tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
½ tbsp. fresh lemon verbena, finely chopped
2 tbsp. flour
a pinch of salt
1 tbsp sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 400F
1.) In a large bowl or food processor, combine the flour and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. You can either use your food processor or a pastry or dough blender and do it by hand. Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight (that’s what they experts say to do for optimal working conditions….we did it for like 20 minutes…we’re impatient!)
2.) Roll out dough onto a flat and floured surface. Use something round (like a mason jar lid) to form circles. Press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of a muffin tin that you have pre-buttered. You can use a fork around the edges to give it a nice crinkled look if you like.
3.) In a mixing bowl, combine strawberries, chopped rosemary and lemon verbena, flour and salt. Stir together and mash. We used a potato masher for this.
4.) Fill your tarts to the top and bake for 20-25 minutes on middle rack in the oven. Tarts are done when pastry is cooked through and slightly browned on top.
5.) Let cool and then remove from tins. You could toss a dollop of yogurt or fresh whipped cream on top if you desire, though it’s not necessary. Enjoy the summer bounty!
Ready to cook with kids some more? The newest edition of Almanac for Kids is out—packed with recipes, gardening projects, and lots of fun facts and activities! Look inside the Kids’ Almanac here.