Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Strawberry Paletas

One of the perks that comes with working in the inner-city is the exposure (or over-exposure, some days) to different dishes and cuisines that belong to different ethnicities. Since I began working at my school, I've had the pleasure of working with kids of all different ethnicities and cultures and it's been a joy and surprise some days. While my school serves a 90% Hispanic neighborhood, in the last 2 years I've taught kids who are Mexican, Puerto Rican, Brazillian, Chinese, Irish, Indian, Polish, African-American, Columbian, Ecuadorian (???), and ______________________. Pretty wild, isn't it? I'm actually so, so glad my students get the exposure they do. Now, don't get me wrong, most of the kids overlook the "other cultures" and focus mainly on Mexican or Hispanic culture. The good thing about my job is that no one in school is "different", it's usually just overlooked until someone speaks up and says, "Oh yeah, ___________ isn't Mexican, s/he's ___________." The kids have no idea how well-rounded they're going to be when they get to high school.

Anyway, because my school serves a primarily Hispanic neighborhood, we celebrate, as a community, Mexican Independance Day and Cinco de Mayo and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, among others. While I can't always follow along at the celebrations (my Spanish is still pretty weak) I DO enjoy the sweet treats that come along with them. I'd had paletas before, but I always got them from a little cart labeled "popsicles". I guess the paleta guy thought no one would buy them if they had a strange name? Whatever. They're great, and if you haven't had them...go. Go now, in fact, and get yourself to a paleta! One of the secretaries at my job gave me 2 basic paleta recipes: one icy and one creamy. She swears these are authentic as they come and says that she has been making them this way as long as she can remember, and her mom's been making them like this even longer. I plan on making a few different versions of paletas over the summer with my new sweet popsicle molds (thanks, Mary!). I decided to go with strawberry paletas first because they're icy, and I'm going to make some creamy paletas next time (with coconut--watch out!). These are great and SIMPLE and the perfect way to cool down on a warm summer day.

Strawberry Paletas
Serves 6

2 16-oz containers strawberries, hulled and rinsed.
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1 T. fresh lemon juice

Puree strawberries in blender (2 or 3 at a time) until smooth. Pour strawberry puree into a large measuring cup (at least 2 c.) through a sieve. Discard leftover pieces and seeds.

Pour sugar into measuring cup and stir until dissolved. Add lemon juice and mix well. Taste and add a touch more lemon juice if puree is still too tart. Pour puree into molds, attach covers and freeze upright for at least 3 hours. To eat, hold popsicle mold under warm running water for about 30 seconds, or until paleta releases from interior. Enjoy!

  • The lemon juice threw me for a loop, but it actually brightens and sweetens the flavor of the strawberries. Sugar alone won't do it.
  • Taste test your batter as you're going along. If it's still too tart, add lemon juice in 1 tsp. increments until you're satisfied.
  • My coworker also suggested lime juice, or a mix of the two. I was skeptical, and I had a lemon, so that's what I used. The batter was fantastic.
  • To make them a little creamier, add 1 c. milk and blend together. However, these are fantastic as icy paletas, so why mess with a good thing?

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