Pascale's Kitchen: Strawberry season

Strawberries are finally in season, and these juicy red berries can be seen in every market.

The writer talks strawberries with the team behind Noy Hasadeh: mom Galit, and sisters Noy and Raz. (photo credit: RAN SHENBAL)
The writer talks strawberries with the team behind Noy Hasadeh: mom Galit, and sisters Noy and Raz.
(photo credit: RAN SHENBAL)
Strawberries are finally in season, and these juicy red berries can be seen in every market.
I was recently invited to spend the day with Noy Hadas in her home in Rosh Ha’ayin, where I was introduced to all of the family members who take part in growing, cooking and marketing their strawberries: the mother, Galit, the younger sister Raz, and the father, Tal.
Noy, 28, who’s expecting her second child, studied criminology and planned to work for Israel Police. But life often doesn’t always turn out as we planned, and she is currently the owner of Noy Hasadeh, which markets produce directly to businesses.
Noy grew up in a family of agriculturalists, and knows how tough it is to make a living off the land. Her grandfather Itzik used to grow peaches, nectarines, plums and apples, and her father continued the tradition and grows strawberries free of pesticides.
When she was young, Noy would sell their strawberries at farmers markets in Tel Aviv and around the country. When she told her parents about her plans for opening up her business, they tried to convince her that it would be too difficult for a young woman to break into this area, that people would cheat her and not take her seriously.
And yet, at the age of 21, she finally was able to convince a bank manager to give her a loan. She opened up a small store and bought a truck for deliveries. But no one wanted to buy produce from the sweet-looking young woman. Slowly, she convinced a few buyers to try her strawberries, and over the years she built up a successful business.
She now has a logistics center where all the produce is checked for quality before being sent out to stores. Any produce that doesn’t get sold that day is offered to charities.
Noy Hasadeh now has five branches, with three more in the works, a turnover of NIS 40 million a year and close to 100 employees.
Tipascale
Strawberries are in season in Israel from November through March, and so winter is a great time to make desserts and jams from strawberries. They contain vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin B-group. They are rich in potassium, iron and calcium. And most importantly, despite their delicious sweetness, they are low in calories: 26 calories per 100 grams.

STRAWBERRY JAM
Makes 10 small jars.
850 gr. ripe strawberries, halved
½ kg. sugar
Juice from one lemon
½ tsp. quality vanilla extract
Add the strawberries to a large, flat pot. Add the sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. Mix gently and bring to a boil over a high flame. The mixture will quickly begin to bubble, but don’t worry, since the strawberries contain a lot of liquid. Lower the flame to the lowest possible setting and continue cooking uncovered for 50-60 minutes.
Stir occasionally and skim off the froth that bubbles up. It’s important to keep watch and remove from the flame as soon as jam has become thick.
Let jam cool a little before transferring to glass jars. Store in the fridge.
Level of difficulty: Easy.
Time: 1 hour.
Status: Parve.

SANDWICH COOKIES WITH STRAWBERRY JAM

Makes 15-20 cookies.
2½ cups flour, sifted
200 gr. cold butter or margarine
½ cup sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. quality vanilla extract
Filling:
1 cup homemade strawberry jam
Topping:
100 gr. powdered sugar
Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix until smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Sprinkle your work surface with flour and split the dough into 2 sections. Roll each out into a circle that is ½ cm. thick.
Use a cookie cutter to cut out circle cookies (or any other shape) from the first circle and place them on a tray covered with baking paper.
Use the same shape cookie cutter on the second half of the dough and prepare the same number of cookies. With these, however, cut out a tiny circle in the middle of each cookie.
Bake the cookies for 15 minutes in an oven that has been preheated to 150°. The cookies should remain light-colored and only darken around the edges a little. Let them cool. Sprinkle powdered sugar on the cookies with the small hole in the middle. Place a little jam on each of the whole cookies and then place a cookie with a hole and powdered sugar on top of each one with jam. Store in an airtight container.
Level of difficulty: Easy.
Time: 1 hour.
Status: Dairy or parve.
STRAWBERRY SQUARES
Use a 26cm x 38cm pan. Makes 22 squares.
Dough:
3 cups (420 gr.) flour
½ cup (100 gr.) sugar
200 gr. cold butter or margarine, cubed
4 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Topping:
1 cup (140 gr.) flour
½ cup (100 gr.) sugar
100 gr. butter or margarine
Filling:
Strawberry jam
To prepare the dough, add all the ingredients to the bowl of an electric mixer that is fitted with a dough hook. Mix until dough becomes crumbly. Add the egg yolks and mix. If it’s too crumbly, you can add up to 1/3 cup cold water.
Spread the dough in a pan that has been lined with baking paper. Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180° for 15 minutes. Remove and let cool.
To prepare the topping, blend the ingredients together in a mixer.
Spread the strawberry jam on the cooked cake and then sprinkle topping on top. Bake another 15 minutes. Let cool and then cut into squares.
Level of difficulty: Easy.
Time: 40 minutes.
Status: Dairy or parve.
STRAWBERRY CAKE
Use a 24 cm. x 26 cm. pan.
4 large eggs
1½ cups sugar
150 gr. softened butter, cubed
1 tsp. quality vanilla extract
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
225 gr. sour cream 25% fat
1 basket (250 gr.) strawberries, washed and cubed
2 cups flour, sifted, mixed with 1 tsp. baking powder
Strawberry cream:
500 ml. sweet cream
50 gr. white vanilla pudding (or instant vanilla pudding, which will come out yellow)
Topping:
1 basket (250 gr.) strawberries, cleaned and sliced
Beat the eggs and then gradually add the sugar. Continue whipping until creamy. Add the butter, vanilla, lemon zest and juice, and sour cream, while still mixing. Gradually fold in the flour and baking powder. Fold in the strawberries. Pour into baking pan and flatten. Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 160° or 170° for 50 minutes.
To prepare the cream, whip the sweet cream with the instant pudding. Keep beating until it gets very creamy. Transfer to an icing bag with a serrated tip and ice the top and sides of cake with cream. Adorn with strawberry slices.
Level of difficulty: Medium.
Time: 90 minutes.
Status: Dairy.
STRAWBERRY COOKIES
Makes 15-20 cookies.
250 gr. strawberries, cut into circles
2 Tbsp. sugar
400 gr. flour, sifted
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking powder
200 gr. butter, at room temperature, cubed
200 gr. brown sugar
100 gr. white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Add the strawberries to a bowl. Add the sugar and mix. Set aside. In a separate bowl, add the flour, salt and baking powder and mix.
Add the brown and white sugars and butter to the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one, mixing in between, and then add the vanilla. Mix. Add the flour mixture and mix for another 30 seconds.
Drain any liquid from the strawberry slices and pat them dry with a paper towel. Fold them into the dough.
Line a baking tray with baking paper. Spoon the batter onto the tray, making little mounds. Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180° for 12-15 minutes. Make sure the cookies don’t overcook. Let cool.
Level of difficulty: Easy.
Time: 90 minutes.
Status: Dairy.
Translated by Hannah Hochner
Text and styling: Pascale Perez-Rubin