Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Roasted Strawberry & Butter Cookie Sundaes



Among my many jobs (photographers assistant, food stylist assistant, studio manager, photographer), I take all sorts of freelance photography gigs, including working for other bloggers. People with small start up companies or blogs always want to know one thing- how to take better photos without buying fancy equipment. 




Usually on these shoots, I'm working with big lights- strobes with soft boxes, maybe a seamless sweep, my DSLR and a large lens, lots of light stands and reflectors. So when I tell these other clients, or anyone really, that I shoot Little Market Kitchen without any of these things- flash, big reflectors, or even a proper sized still life set up, they're surprised. When I tell them I shoot this blog in the 4x5 foot space between my counter and my sink, where the only window in my (rather dark) kitchen resides, with my still life board laid across a regular kitchen stool because a table would never fit in my shooting area, they're even more surprised.




The key, I tell anyone who asks for advice on shooting with natural light in this dark, crowded city, is to map the light in your apartment. First, take stock of where your windows are, and how accessible they are. Pick out the window or room that gets the most amount of light, and has room to shoot in, then the next time you're at home all day, look at that room about once an hour. Watch the light, take note of when the room is the brightest. When your shooting area is the brightest- this is when you want to shoot. My kitchen window looks southeast at the East River, so I get the best light in the morning, but there is a tall building across the street from me, so the light gets cut down around 10AM in the winter, and 1PM in the summer. Which means this time of year I shoot all of my recipes before noon. 




Consequently, last weekend I finished making and photographing these sundaes at 10:30 in the morning. I was in a bit of a conundrum afterwards regarding what to do with the sundae I had photographed. It's not like you can save a sundae, even in the freezer the sauce gets all hard and the berries would freeze. There was nothing else to do, S and I had to have sundaes for breakfast. 




At least I went for a run while the strawberries cooled. I'd like to say we followed these up with a proper breakfast of eggs and toast, or that we had eaten bowls of yogurt or chia pudding with fruit salad earlier that morning, but I'm into being honest with my readers, so I'm not going to pretend to be some sort of healthy sane person that balances out ice cream with chia pudding. We ate the sundae you see photographed here as our entire breakfast, and it was heavenly.  




We also had smaller individual sundaes for dessert that evening. It was just an ice cream kind of day I guess. S and I are not known for our great restraint when it comes to eating. We once ate an entire pineapple upside down cake within three hours of my making it. Maybe it's a testament to my cooking abilities, or maybe we're just two terrible gluttons.




These roasted strawberries are lovely. I mixed them up with two of my favorite condiments, maple syrup and balsamic vinegar, but you could substitute honey for the maple if need be. I made the cookie crumble the night before, which I highly recommend doing. Just try not to eat the whole thing before you ever make the sundaes! 


Roasted Strawberry & Butter Cookie Sundaes
Makes 4 very generous sundaes or 6 regular sized ones.
Balsamic Roasted Strawberries
2 Pints Strawberries
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 Pints Vanilla Ice Cream


Brown Butter Cookie Crumble

3/4 C Oats
1 C Flour
1 Stick Butter
1/2 tsp Baking powder
2/3 C Sugar


First, bake the cookie crumble. You can do this a day, or even two, in advance. Preheat oven to 350F. Place the butter in a skillet on the stove and heat over low heat so the butter melts- first it will be yellow and opaque, then it'll turn foamy, then clear, and finally it will begin to smell like nuts and turn subtly brown. Do not leave the butter unattended as it will go from clear to browned to burned very quickly. Once the butter begins to brown remove it from heat and pour it out of the pan and into a bowl or measuring cup immediately, as it will continue to cook in the hot pan if left in there. Browning the butter will take 5-10 minutes, depending on your heat.

In a mixing bowl combine all the dry ingredients for the cookies and mix until well combined. Pour the browned butter over the dry ingredients and mix again until butter is well mixed in and a clumpy dough forms.

Butter a 8x8" pan and press the clumpy dough  into the pan until it comes together to fill the pan, press until a smooth, level surface is formed. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack until cookie is room temperature. Cut into squares to remove from the pan, then crumble the cookie bars into 1/2" pieces in a large bowl. Set aside.

Roast the strawberries- this can also be done a day ahead, and roasted strawberries can be kept, with their juices, in a refrigerator until you're ready to use them. Preheat oven to 375F. Remove the tops of the strawberries and cut any large ones in half. In a casserole or roasting pan, toss the strawberries, maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar. Roast for 30-35 minutes, until juices are bubbly and strawberries are soft and look a bit roasted. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. If you want warm strawberries on your sundae, wait about 10 minutes. For cooler berries that will melt your ice cream less, you can pop the berries in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

Scoop a hearty serving of ice cream into each bowl. Top with roasted strawberries and cookie crumble, then drizzle with the roasted strawberry juice. Serve immediately and enjoy!




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