Cottage cheese, strawberries and spring

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Ara que ha arribat l’abril ja podem dir oficialment que som a la primavera. Sí, ja ho sé, tècnicament la primavera arriba al març, però sempre he pensat que quan realment tens una plena sensació de primavera, és a l’abril.

És un mes fantàstic! Hi ha Setmana Santa, que després d’un segon trimestre sense gaires festius és molt benvinguda, i també hi ha Sant Jordi, que és el dia màgic, romàntic i primaveral per excel·lència. Em direu que el maig també és primavera, sí, però quan arribes al maig ja comences a tenir més acumulació de feina, perquè llavors el curs s’està acabant i ja pots ensumar de ben a prop els exàmens que vindran amb el juny, així que podríem dir que el maig forma part d’aquella part de la primavera que et passes patint per la feinada que tens abans que s’acabin les classes. Del juny ja ni en parlem, i  llavors quan acabes els exàmens normalment ja ets a l’estiu, que això ja forma part d’una altra història. Per tant, si comptem que el març és encara un mes molt hivernal, que el maig és estressant i que el juny ens el passem tancats a casa estudiant, arribem a la conclusió que l’únic mes on realment podem gaudir de la primavera és a l’abril. O sigui ara.

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I què ens ve al cap quan pensem en primavera? Indiscutiblement: maduixes. I si la Clara ja ens feia un primer avanç del menú primaveral a finals de febrer amb la seva amanida de Brie, maduixes i ametlles, jo avui us porto les postres. Per a fer-les necessitareu bàsicament dos ingredients: maduixes, evidentment, i mató. Sembla molt senzill, però si ho voleu fer bé, heu de seguir dos passos: en primer lloc, aneu al mercat i compreu unes maduixes del Maresme. El plat es pot fer amb qualsevol maduixa o maduixot de supermercat, però el resultat només serà perfecte si les maduixes són perfectes. Després, poseu-vos les botes i aprofiteu el magnífic dia assolellat i primaveral que farà per pujar d’excursió a Montserrat a comprar un bon mató. (de fet també s’hi pot pujar amb cotxe, però el mató és infinitament més bo quan el vas a comprar a peu) (de passada, quan aneu a Montserrat compreu coca, és potser la millor coca de la història) (i sí, també és molt més bona si hi aneu caminant). Quan arribeu a casa, uns quants minuts a la cuina i us podreu menjar la primavera a cullerades!

strawberry-cottage cheese

Strawberry Cottage Cheese Cups

Servings: 4

Prep time: 20 min

You will need:

  • 350g cottage cheese
  • 350g strawberries
  • about 4 tsp honey
  • 4 tsp walnuts, chopped

Blend the cottage cheese and the honey in a bowl using a fork, until you have a homogeneous mixture. Now taste it before going ahead: some cottage cheeses are more acid than others, and it might not be sweet enough with only 4 tsp of honey. I’d say just add honey to taste, until the desired sweeteness.

Wash and crush the strawberries until you have a nice red purée. Some sugar or honey can be added if the strawberries are too acid. Once again, it’s a matter of taste (I personally like the combination of the sweeteness of the cheese with the acidity of the strawberries, but it’s your choice).

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With the strawberry sauce and the cheese-honey mixture all done and ready, it’s time to assemble the cup. Place some walnuts at the bottom of a cup, or, in fact, any kind of artsy glass you may happen to have. Layer the cottage cheese over the walnuts, and last but not least pour some strawberry sauce on top. If you feel springish-ly (is that even a word?) creative today, go ahead and decorate it with some beautifuly fresh strawberries or a leaf of mint. Or go crazy and do both.

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Strawberry-Almond-Brie Salad

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I got yelled after on the street again today. It happens from time to time, due to the fact that I am the limit of pale approaching infinity, and have a light-bulb-blonde head, and happen to live in a country full of gorgeous, olive-skinned, jet-black-haired people. Beautiful though they be, the yelling is usually quite crude, and, being the delicate English rose that I am, I would never respond to such demeaning behavior. I am a lady, not a dog. Also, never underestimate the seductive power of a decent vocabulary.

So, today, I managed to stop a white van full of men mid-catcall by shoving a big powdery donut into my mouth, then smiling with my mouth full. I admit my level of weirdness is above the national average, but I’m comfortable with that. The look on their faces was gold, I’m telling ya. I laughed all the way home. Well, technically, I laughed for about 5 minutes, then choked on my mouthful of donut, then coughed all the way home, having turned a most graceful shade of puce. Delicate English rose, indeed.

Anyway, the reason I was walking down the street where I met the ill-fated white van in the first place, is because the sun was shining, and there was a slight scent on the morning breeze – I could swear it hailed the advent of spring. Ah, the mystique! Yes, well, that, and I had eaten half a dozen donuts for breakfast and kind of felt like I needed to walk it off.

So thank your lucky stars for my donut overdose, and the fact that, after the aforementioned catcall/choking incident, I had this nagging feeling that I really ought to regain my lady-like demeanor: they led to the creation of this salad. Plus I had a bowl-ful of strawberries in my fridge. Because, guess what? Spring is around the corner, and strawberries are spring’s most exhuberant shout of joy. Let us therefore stuff our faces with them while they last.

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Strawberry-Almond-Brie Salad

Servings: varies, depending on how much salad you eat

Prep time: 15 minutes tops

  • Dark leafy salad greens, such as baby greens and/or arugula
  • Strawberries, quartered lengthwise (see pic)
  • Brie, cut into cubes
  • Almonds, roasted and salted
  • Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, to taste

This recipe is really quite straightforward. Basically, toss all ingredients together. Eat. Repeat. The green-to-yummy-stuff-ratio is entirely up to you. If you love your greens, go heavy on the leaves and light on the rest. Then say baaah. If you are nuts about the nuts (pardon the pun), go ahead and throw in the whole bag. If you are a true cheese lover, then welcome to our community. The initiation ritual is this Sunday. Don’t be late.

A few hints before you start:

Make sure you Brie is nice and cool until right before you cut it up, or it’ll come apart when you cut.

Also, you definitely want to use salted almonds, our you’ll end up with a salad that tastes like dessert. Not a problem, I know, but still. It’s a salad. If you’re no fan of big chunks in your salad, feel free to chop up the almonds and sprinkle them on top before you serve.

And last but not least, I believe this tastes best with just a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. That way the different textures can really shine. But feel free to mix in any vinaigrette you like. I would steer clear of cream- or yogurt-based dressings, though, as the Brie is already very creamy.

And that’s all, folks. Simple, easy, delicious. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did 🙂