Here are a few tips about how to buy and store strawberries:
• Start by selecting the specimens that are unblemished and smooth and, most important, bright red from tip to tail. Then, pick one up and take a whiff. It should smell strongly of, well, strawberries.
• When you get the winners home, put a layer of them in a shallow bowl lined with paper towels. Cover and store the berries in the refrigerator and try to eat them within a few days. (Local strawberries are more perishable than the commercial varieties.) Do not wash or hull the strawberries until right before you're ready to eat them.
• When the moment arrives, simply put the strawberries in a colander and run some cold water over them. Then lift them out and let them drain on paper towels.
– Sara Moulton, Associated Press
What makes this recipe Italian? The filling used to stuff these berries is a twist on the mixture of ricotta cheese, candied orange and chocolate that's piped into cannoli.
1 pound strawberries
2 ounces Neufchatel or one-third less-fat cream cheese (about 1/4 cup), softened
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 ounce bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
Cut each strawberry in half lengthwise through the cap. Arrange the strawberry halves, cut side up, on a serving plate. Trim a thin slice from the bottom if necessary to make each half sit evenly. Using a small spoon or melon baller, scoop out a hollow in the center of the cut side of each strawberry. Reserve the strawberry scraps for another use (or eat them).
In a small bowl combine the cream cheese and sugar; stir in the chocolate and orange zest. Divide the cream cheese mixture into the hollows in the strawberries and serve.
You can prepare the strawberries and the filling several hours ahead of time but do not stuff the strawberries until right before serving. Makes 4 servings.