Strawberry season has begun in the Piedmont Triad, and just in time for Mother’s Day this Sunday.
Local strawberries were in good supply Friday, when the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market held its annual Strawberry Day, which included free strawberry ice cream and a strawberry recipe contest.
I was one of three judges for the contest, joined by Betsy Harris, an account executive at iHeart Media, and Lora Songster, a DJ for WMAG- FM (99.5), an iHeartMedia radio station based in Greensboro.
First place and $200 went to Justin Moore of Midway, a 17-year-old junior enrolled in the culinary class of Ashley Bodenheimer at Oak Grove High School in Davidson County.
Justin submitted a chocolate-strawberry cream pie simplified with a no-bake crust of crushed Oreo cookies and melted butter.
“All of us made a strawberry recipe and then the teacher chose the best three” to be entered in the contest, Justin said.
He said he started with a recipe that called for canned strawberry filling, but he changed it.
“I wanted to make my own filling from scratch,” he said.
The filling combines cream cheese, whipped cream and sliced strawberries with a hint of lemon juice and zest.
“The first time we added too much lemon,” he said.
To finish it off, Justin drizzled a little melted chocolate over the top of the pie.
Pam Lippitt of Greensboro won second place and $125 for her Grandma Fairfield’s Strawberry Pie.
The recipe is named after the grandmother of a good friend from high school.
“We went to Florida for spring break one time,” Lippitt said. “She made that pie for us every night when we came in from the beach. We must have eaten three or four of those pies that week.”
Made in a fairly traditional way, this pie features a standard baked crust. Like the first-place pie, it includes cream cheese in the filling, but this time it is flavored with a bit of orange juice and zest. The addition of orange is one reason she likes the pie, Lippitt said.
The filling is topped with a glaze chock-full of fresh, lightly cooked, crushed strawberries. More whole strawberries are used for a garnish.
Though Lippitt’s recipe says the pie may be served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, it was plenty tasty served plain.
Third place and $75 went to Chris Burby of Jamestown, who made a strawberry red velvet cake based on a recipe from https://tatyanaseveryday food.com. The cheesecake is more involved than the other winning recipes — so it didn’t score highly in the “ease of preparation” category. But it more than made up for it in appearance, taste and texture.
The cheesecake base — with a chocolate graham-cracker crust — is topped first with strawberry white-chocolate mousse and then with a strawberry whipped cream.
Burby said she liked the flavors and different textures from the multiple layers of the cake.
“And who doesn’t love chocolate and strawberries?” she asked.
Burby has been entering contests at the farmers market for years. A few years ago, she won first place in the peach contest on Peach Day.
“I just love to go to the farmers market,” she said. “I look forward to Strawberry Day and Peach Day.”