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Agoura Hills Woman Named Finalist in Berry Blast Off Recipe Contest

Winona Krieger will, once again, compete at the annual California Strawberry Festival.

From a list of 187 recipe submissions, Winona Krieger has been named as one of two finalists in the Berry Blast Off Contest at the 30th Annual California Strawberry Festival, which takes place May 18th.

"I'm super excited to be a finalist again this year," Krieger wrote in an email to Patch. "This recipe is one I can see catching-on in the party circuit. It's fun to make and has a wow factor in the presentation. Most of all it's really tasty. I hope I can pull it off in the one hour and do it justice. Either way I'm just happy to be competing."

The longtime Agoura Hills resident, who took first place honors last year for her Strawberry Lasagna recipe, impressed the judges at the iron chef-style challenge held in Oxnard Tuesday with her strawberry brulee.

"Last year was the first time I entered a competition," she said. "And I was very intrigued with the no-bake aspect of the rules, so I wanted to see what I could come up with."

Krieger, a caterer who owns Sadie's Pantry, said she's been cooking all her life but is still "shocked" that her recipes stand out.

"So many incredible chefs participate in the preliminary round that it's an honor to receive such attention," she said.

Her "Green Eggs Siam" took fifth place in the World Food Competition in Las Vegas last year.

The public is invited to watch Krieger battle it out against challenger Larissa Nelson of Fillmore in the Strawberry Promenade at Oxnard’s Strawberry Meadows of College Park, 3250 S. Rose Avenue.

In the meantime, you can re-create her winning dessert below:

STRAWBERRY BRULEE

For gluten-free use rice crackers or thin jicama slices. It’s also delicious just using the berry brittle itself as chips. Be sure to get a piece of fresh berry for a perfect bite. The nuts may be omitted for those with nut allergies.

Ingredients

2 baskets strawberries, cleaned and cored

1/2 teaspoon orange zest

1/2 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla

1 dash fresh ground nutmeg

1 ½ cups roasted almonds

¼ teaspoon Silver Cloud natural strawberry extract

¼ cup chopped, peeled green apple

 (1 cup whole nuts for the brittle and ½ cup rough chopped)

3 Tablespoons boiling water

2 Tablespoons plain gelatin

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup cane sugar

½ cup Karo syrup

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

8 oz goat cheese (plain or honey)

Directions

First make the berry brittle so it can cool while you’re preparing the other ingredients. Lay out fifteen inches or so of parchment paper and spray it lightly with Pam or other non-stick spray. Measure out one teaspoon baking soda and have it next to the paper.

Puree four or five strawberries. Add this to a small sauce pot and let it simmer on low for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. At the last minute add the strawberry extract, and then measure out ¼ of a cup.

Put this in a heavy two quart sauce pot along with the white sugar, Karo Syrup and salt. Bring it to a boil at medium heat. Affix the candy thermometer and stir it often. When it reaches 250 add the whole almonds then continue cooking until it gets to the “hard-crack stage” at 300 degrees.

Immediately add the baking soda. Stir rapidly a few times then turn it out onto the sprayed parchment paper. Pour the mixture, as much as you can, in a circular motion (it will become foamy after you add the baking soda). Working quickly, use a rubber spatula to spread it out as evenly as possible.

While this cools crush enough strawberries to make 2/3 cup—about six or so depending on the size. You can do this with a potato masher or just a couple of pulses in a food processor or blender. In a small sauce pot add the gelatin and water. Stir this under a low heat until it becomes clear. Now add the crushed berries, brown sugar, butter, orange zest, apple, vanilla and nutmeg. Simmer at a low heat for fifteen minutes. During the last few minutes add the rough chopped almonds. Let this cool in the fridge for fifteen or so minutes.

Now roll out the goat cheese. Lightly spray a nine inch tart pan, pie pan or shallow casserole dish. Lightly spray two large pieces of parchment paper—about fourteen inches or so—then lay the goat cheese on one and put the other on top of the goat cheese, spray side down. Using a rolling pin roll it out the cheese as you would dough to make a circle the size of a nine inch cake pan.

Peel the top layer of parchment off and use the cake pan as a form to cut a circle the size of the pan. Put any extra cheese aside. Invert the parchment paper and pan so that the circle falls to the bottom of the pan. Carefully peel away the parchment paper using a rubber spatula if necessary. Press any extra cheese into the edges of the pan.

Assembly

Now for the assembly—scoop and spread the chilled strawberry mixture into the pan on top of the cheese. Do this lightly so as not to disturb the bottom layer. Cover the pan with a round serving platter and invert the two so that it comes out onto the plate. Don’t worry if it breaks a bit as it will be pliable enough to fix and it will then be covered with the brittle.

Break the brittle into pieces using the heavy end of a knife or kitchen mallet. Arrange the brittle in a single layer on top of the “cake” like a puzzle. Garnish with whole strawberries in a ring on top of the brulee and sliced ones around the base. For an extra wow factor sink some tall shards of berry brittle into the middle of the cake standing-up.

Serve the brulee as an appetizer or dessert with several spreading knives and toast rounds, cream crackers or graham crackers. This dish can also be made in single servings using small ramekins for the molds. 

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