Published Thursday, February 21, 2013

Florida's fresh strawberries add sparkle

From STAFF REPORTS

closeup@newnan.com

Florida is famous for its seafood, melons, sugarcane, tropical fruits and those juicy strawberries.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services features recipes showcasing the state’s agricultural products. Consumers can find recipes using Florida tomatoes, sweet corn, grapefruit and more at www.freshfromflorida.com .

In value of U.S. production, Florida ranks first in oranges, grapefruit, sugarcane, fresh cucumbers, fresh snap beans, fresh tomatoes, squash, sweet corn and watermelons, and ranks second in tangerines, strawberries and bell peppers.

Georgia’s neighbor to the south ranks among the top states in fresh seafood production, providing most of the nation’s supply of grouper, pompano, mullet, stone crab, pink shrimp, spiny lobsters, and Spanish mackerel.

Here are two simple Florida strawberry recipes, with a brie dish perfect for entertaining and a muffin recipe for breakfast or brunch.

Strawberry Brie

From www.freshfromflorida.com

Ingredients:

1 (6-inch) wheel brie cheese

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3 tablespoons strawberry jam or preserves

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2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

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1 cup strawberries, chopped

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1/2 cup pecans, chopped

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1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 275 F. In a small sauce pot, cook jam and vinegar over medium heat until bubbly. Place brie on an oven-safe serving platter or dish. Place chopped strawberries and pecans on top of brie wheel. Cover with jam mixture. Bake brie wheel until it is warm and soft, about 15 minutes. Garnish with chopped mint leaves. Serve immediately with crackers or crusty bread.

Yield: 12 servings

Strawberry Muffins

From Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups strawberries, chopped

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3/4 cup sugar

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1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted

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1/2 teaspoon baking soda

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1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

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1/4 teaspoon salt

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2 eggs, beaten

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1/4 cup butter, melted

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1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preparation:

Combine the strawberries and 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Set aside for 1 hour. Drain and reserve liquid and strawberries separately. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Combine flour, baking soda, nutmeg and salt. Set aside. Mix the eggs, butter, vanilla extract and 1/4 cup sugar and liquid from strawberries in a medium bowl. Add flour mixture. Stir until combined. Fold in reserved strawberries. Spoon into 12 greased muffin pans. Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Yield: 12 muffins

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