This week's Market Watch highlights strawberries, from Straight River Farm at the Midtown Farmers Market.  

Dan Janssen, selling strawberries -- actually, they were pretty much selling themselves --  at the Straight River Farm stand last Saturday morning. The farm, which features four acres of strawberries, and is open to U-pick strawberry lovers, is located in Faribault, Minn.

Breakfast of champions: Strawberry crepes (from Straight River Farm's harvest), finished with whipped cream and a salted caramel sauce, at the Midtown Crepes stand at the Midtown Farmers Market.
Back at home, I discovered the easiest road to strawberry shortcake: Let the folks at the market's Real Bread stand do the baking. The shortcakes are made with buttermilk and Minnesota's own Hope Butter, and because they're so good they sell fast, which is why it's best to order in advance by emailing bakers Mary Eckmeier and Brett Laidlaw at; deadline is 5 p.m. Thursday for advanced orders. 
Here are two ways to maximize Minnesota's painfully short strawberry growing season.


Serves 2. 

Note: To toast sliced almonds, place in a skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until they begin to slightly brown, about 5 minutes. From "The Minnesota Home Grown Cookbook" produced by Renewing the Countryside (Voyageur Press, $29.95). "An incredibly delicious and impressive brunch dish" is how the book describes this recipe, from Suzanne Tweten of the Loghouse and Homestead Bed and Breakfast in Vegas, Minn.

For almond-strawberry butter

1/2 c. (1 stick) butter

2 c. powdered sugar

1/2 c. toasted sliced almonds

1 1/2 c. freshly hulled strawberries

For puff pancakes:

3 eggs

1/4 tsp. almond extract

3/4 c. milk

1/4 c. sifted flour

4 tbsp. butter, melted

Fresh strawberries


To prepare almond-strawberry butter: In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine butter, powdered sugar, almonds and strawberries and pulse until blended.

To prepare puff pancakes: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat eggs and almond extract until foamy. Reduce speed to low and add alternately add milk and flour, starting and ending with milk, and beat until very smooth. Brush melted butter to thoroughly cover bottom and sides of an ovenproof 12-inch skillet. Pour batter into prepared skillet and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven, cut pancake in half and place each half on a plate. Serve with almond-strawberry butter and fresh strawberries.



Serves 12

Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. From "Betty Crocker Country Cooking" (Wiley, $25.95).

1/2 c. flour

1/4 c. chopped pecans or walnuts

4 tbsp. butter, at room temperature

2 tbsp. packed brown sugar

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1/2 c. cold water

1 qt. strawberries, cut lengthwise into fourths, divided

3/4 c. sugar

1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 c. heavy cream


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, pecans (or walnuts), butter and brown sugar until crumbly. Spread in an ungreased 9x9-inch baking pan and bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and stir to break up.

Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin on cold water to soften. In a medium saucepan, mash 1 cup of strawberries. Stir in sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, stir in gelatin until dissolved. 

Pour 1/4 cup of gelatin-strawberry mixture into a 7-cup mold. Arrange a few strawberry fourths, cut sides up, on gelatin mixture. Refrigerate until firm. Refrigerate remaining gelatin-strawberry mixture about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. 

In a chilled medium bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high, beat cream until stiff. Fold in remaining strawberries and slightly thickened gelatin-strawberry mixture. Alternate layers of whipped cream mixture and crumb mixture in mold, beginning with whipped cream mixture and ending with crumbs. Refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours. Unmold onto a serving plate.