At the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, we pride ourselves in incorporating local and homegrown ingredients into our dishes year-round, but most importantly during the Spring when strawberry season is in full effect!
Ponchatoula, Louisiana claims itself as the “Strawberry Capital of the World.” While Louisiana is best known for its cultural Cajun and Creole food, it may be a surprise that strawberries are added to the list of foods with historical background in the state. The city of Ponchatoula was a city of strawberry fields in the 20th century. Paste Magazine claims that there were 23,500 acres of strawberry farms in Louisiana by 1931. The strawberry farming industry boomed for many years, but it slowly declined towards the end of World War II when men began working in other industries with higher pay.
Although the industry is not what it used to be, Ponchatoula is still rooted in strawberry history. Some farmers still grow their crops on the same farms that their grandparents did. The farming industry may not be as popular as it was, but that doesn’t make the strawberry any less popular in Louisiana.
Locals and visitors eagerly wait for the arrival of strawberry season each year. We know the season has arrived when strawberry farmers line the streets selling flats of strawberries for drivers to stop and purchase. Ponchatoula also holds the annual Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival for strawberry lovers to enjoy strawberries in all forms.
Strawberries have become a way life in South Louisiana. Strawberries come in all forms-entrees, desserts, drinks and more.
Here’s one of our favorite recipes from Chef John Folse’s website that we’d love for you to try at home this strawberry season!
Creole Cream Cheese Strawberry Cheesecake
Prep Time: 1 Hour
Yields: 10 Servings
Ingredients for Strawberries:
1 quart strawberries, sliced lengthwise
½ cup sugar, or to taste
1 ounce strawberry wine
Preheat oven to 425°F. In a medium mixing bowl, combine strawberries, sugar and wine. Mash with a potato masher or fork just until strawberries release their juices. Be careful not to mash to a pulp.
Ingredients for Whipped Cream:
1 (11.5-ounce) package Bittersweet Plantation Dairy Creole Cream Cheese
2 cups heavy whipping cream
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
¾ cup sugar
In an electric mixer, combine Creole cream cheese, cream, nutmeg and cinnamon. Whisk on medium-high speed until mixture starts to slightly thicken. Slowly add sugar and beat until very soft peaks form. Be careful to avoid creating a stiff whipped cream. Set aside.
Ingredients for Cream Biscuits:
2 cups flour
1 tbsp double-acting baking powder
3 tbsps sugar, or to taste
½ tsp salt
1½ cups heavy whipping cream
whole milk (for brushing tops of biscuits)
In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Slowly add cream and stir mixture until it just forms a dough. Gather dough into a ball and turn onto a lightly-floured surface. Roll or pat dough ½-inch thick. Using a 2½-inch cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible and transfer them to an ungreased baking sheet. NOTE: A 4-inch or 1-inch cutter may be substituted. Gather scraps, roll dough and cut out more rounds until all dough has been used. Brush tops of biscuits lightly with milk. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer biscuits to a rack and let cool 5 minutes. Split biscuits horizontally with a fork, arrange bottom halves on plates, and spoon strawberry mixture over them. Top strawberry mixture with whipped cream and arrange biscuit tops on cream. Serve remaining cream separately.