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Celebrate strawberry season with something special

Recipe: Easy fresh strawberry mousse lets flavor shine

Pink dessert in in dish with brown and pink design
This easy strawberry mousse contains no eggs. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

My garden yielded a bounty of fresh strawberries, the first of the season. How to celebrate? With a dessert that feels just as special as those first fresh-picked berries: Strawberry mousse.

Like anything French (at least food-wise), mousse comes with a reputation. Rich and silky chocolate mousse, packed with eggs as well as cream, is synonymous with decadent desserts.

By contrast, this strawberry mousse is light and airy, with no eggs. Without too much sugar, the strawberry flavor really comes through. Pushing the pulp through a sieve removes the many seeds and yields a mousse with a wonderfully smooth texture. This method would also work with stone fruits and other berries, such as blackberries.

Mousse is easier to make than it sounds; just take it step by step. It takes some preparation time, but the results will taste as special as those first strawberries.

Easy fresh strawberry mousse

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

2 cups strawberries, hulled and pureed (about 1 pound)

½ cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons Cointreau or other liqueur (optional)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon (1 packet) powdered gelatin

2 tablespoons warm water

1 cup heavy whipping cream

¼ powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sliced strawberries or other garnish

Instructions:

Wash and hull strawberries. Process in a food processor until pureed or mash by hand. In a large bowl, combine pureed strawberries and granulated sugar. Let sit 30 minutes to bring out the berries’ juices. Push the strawberry pulp and juice through a sieve to remove seeds and heavy fibers. You should have about 1-1/2 cups strained strawberry puree and juice. Add salt and the Cointreau or liqueur, if using; set aside.

In a glass measuring cup or small microwave-safe bowl, mix powdered gelatin with warm water until gelatin is dissolved. Let sit 3 minutes. Microwave gelatin mixture for 20 seconds on high to heat and melt the gelatin. Add ¼ cup of strawberry puree to gelatin mixture, then add gelatin mixture to strawberry puree. Stir gently to combine.

Either with an electric mixer or food processor, whip together whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Gently fold whipped cream into strawberry puree mixture, stirring just enough that the color looks even and not striped with white.

Transfer mixture into serving dishes and chill at least 2 hours. Garnish, if desired, and serve.

Note: This mixture may also be chilled in a mold. Wet inside of mold first. Chill at least 4 hours.

pink soft dessert in bowl with strawberry
Be sure to garnish it with more strawberries.

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RECIPE

A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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