One of these holiday seasons, I’m going to figure out how to take it easy and enjoy myself. I was just complaining to my husband that I don’t know how I’m going to finish all the things I have to do before heading to New Jersey for the actual holiday. There’s the 12 dozen cookies I have to finish decorating for the neighborhood party, and the labels I have to pick up for the preserves I’m giving to my friends at a small holiday get-together next week – for which I still haven’t figured out what to serve. And the family Christmas cards... Yikes. My husband of course reminded me that these are all self-imposed crises. He’s so helpful.
So maybe the thrill of the season is just that – spreading joy to friends and family and neighbors, even if it just about kills me in the process.
You’ll understand, then, if I don’t ramble on in my usual way. I do, however, have a small present for you: a great recipe for a dessert that you will love for this season – or any other, for that matter. It takes almost no time to make – maybe half an hour (really!) if you have all the ingredients handy. It’s pretty. And festive. And it’s realllly tasty. Cold and creamy, with a nice strawberry flavor. It comes from the original (1961) edition of Craig Claiborne’s New York Times Cookbook, which was one of the first cookbooks I ever bought after I moved to New York in 1969. God knows why I thought I was proficient enough for his recipes when I didn't know how to cook a hamburger, and I don’t know how I managed to find this one among the 719 pages of almost pure text. But it’s so easy and simple that I never ever screwed it up. Even at the beginning.
For a crowd, you can serve it in a nice crystal bowl and let people dish it out for themselves. (However I serve it, I like to garnish it with a sliced strawberry and some mint leaves.) I’ve served it in individual ramekins to small dinner parties, and I’ve taken it to my book group in those adorable cordial-sized glasses (garnished with tiny cubes of strawberry). In fact, now that I think of it, I’ll serve it to my friends next week.
For the holidays, this will not be the end of my entertaining posts – or rather, my posts about entertaining. If they’re entertaining posts, well, that’ll just be a bonus.
Strawberry Bavarian CreamAdapted from Craig Claiborne’s New York Times Cookbook (1961)
1 10-ounce package frozen strawberries
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
¼ cup cold water or milk
¼ cup sugar
1 heaping cup crushed ice
1 cup heavy cream
Defrost the berries and drain as much of the juice (up to ½ cup) as you can from the bag. If you can’t get a full half-cup, add enough of either cranberry or pomegranate juice – something red and sweet is best, but water will do – to reach ½ cup. Heat the juice to a simmer.
Add the hot juice, the gelatin, and the cold water (or milk) to a blender, cover and process 40 seconds.
Add the sugar and eggs to the liquids, cover and process 5 seconds.
Add the berries, cover and blend 5 more seconds.
Add the ice and cream, cover and blend a final 20 seconds.
This will set very quickly, so immediately pour into either an oiled 4-cup mold (if you plan to unmold it for serving) or a nice glass serving dish or individual serving dishes.