Strawberry Season is Here

May 10, 2013

Jessica Shillato, Executive Chef/Owner
Spotted Salamander Catering
May 10, 2013

For a time, Spotted Salamander was the only full-service caterer in the state to adhere to the SCDA’s Fresh on the Menu guidelines, which require that they source at least 25% of their product from within South Carolina. Chef/Owner Jessica Shillato takes the ball and runs with it for the Conservation Voters of SC’s annual Green Tie Luncheon, where legislators from both sides of the aisle enjoy a menu that is 90-95% SC-sourced, a tremendous feat that her company achieves with delicious grace.

The arrival of warm weather is an exciting time for cooks and chefs as local food options are changing and becoming even more bountiful. For me, there is nothing better than that rite of spring delicacy of fresh picked South Carolina strawberries.
Depending on the weather, South Carolina strawberries can be purchased at almost any local farmers market or natural grocery from late April through May. My favorite way to get them is find a local farm and go pick a bucket.

title=Here are some ideas for simple, quick and easy things you can do with strawberries:

Add 1-tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, a dash of black pepper, and 1-teaspoon of sugar to 1 pint of cut berries and serve over your favorite vanilla ice cream.

Instead of plain whipped cream, purchase an 8oz container of mascarpone cheese from your local grocery and whip in 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1 cup of heavy cream (till fluffy), then layer it over local, fresh cut strawberries.

Make a grilled cheese! Use a fresh croissant, Brie, a few red pepper flakes, and sliced strawberries.

Eat them plain. Strawberries are a potent antioxidant and they activate proteins in the body that prevent diabetes and heart disease.

Or make a strawberry pie, like this one:

Spotted Salamander’s Church Lady Strawberry Pie

Pie dough – You can use the roll out store bought ones, but I suggest making one.
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4-cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/3-cup cold water
1 tsp. sugar
Dash of salt
In the bowl of a food processor, blend all ingredients for about a minute, or until the mixture clumps together. Roll out and place or press into in deep 9-inch pie dish. Refrigerate for 30 min. This also can be done ahead of time and left in fridge for up to 2 days.  Prick bottom of dough with a fork, cover with pie weight. I use dried beans and aluminum foil. Bake at 400* for 20 min. remove weight and cook until golden brown 10 min or so. If edges start getting too brown cover with foil.

4 cups fresh strawberries, Stems removed
1-cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
½ tablespoon cider vinegar
Fill baked and cooled pie shell with 2 cups of the largest prettiest berries.
In a saucepan on low heat, cook, and with a potato masher crush the remaining 2 cups of berries.
Add in sugar and cornstarch. Stir to combine.
Cook and stir constantly over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until the mixture is thickened.
Add in vinegar. Keep stirring for a minute or so.
Remove pan from heat and let cool slightly for about 15 minutes.
Pour berry mixture over the berries in the piecrust.
Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours. Then enjoy.

Jessica Shillato
Executive Chef and Owner of Spotted Salamander Catering



This weekly food column is curated by Tracie Broom, who serves on the board at Slow Food Columbia (, publishes The Yum Diary (, and is a founding partner at Flock and Rally: Events + Communications for a Brave New South (

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