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Strawberry Balsamic Goat Cheese Bars

ca satrawberry day 165

I was recently asked by the California Strawberry Commission if I’d like to spend the day at one of their local farms…with my two kids, ages 7 and 3. I really only had to think about it for a minute. Both of my children love berries and strawberries are high up their list as a favorite, so for them to be able to visit an actual hands-on farm as guests was fantastic. Wait, did I mention their age? Did I mention how happy they were to be on a strawberry farm? Did I mention how hyper and excited they were all.day.long!

Strawberry goat cheese bars

From the moment they hit the field, red faces were in abundance, and I don’t mean from embarrassment. Red from the juicy berries that they hadfree reign over and by the end of the day I think my little guy ate his own weight in strawberries – seriously…I must emphasize I’ve never seen anyone eat so many strawberries ever!

The California Strawberry Commission is responsible for overseeing all relations and activities relating to over 400 Californian growers. From the food safety and production side of the business to public and trade relations, the commission covers the whole spectrum. California harvested almost 2 billion pounds of strawberries last year, accounting for 88% of the U.S. strawberry business.

Strawberry balsamic goat cheese bars

Quinn was waist high in a sea of leafy green strawberry plants. He had so much fun picking the strawberries straight from the plant and popping them in his mouth. They were so juicy and ripe, it was hard to tell him to slow down.

Miranda was a little more of a lady picking her strawberries, including this one which she examined thoroughly! There was even a face painter on hand… I loved how kid friendly the California Strawberry Commission made this event!

This is Farmer Bill Reiman. A fifth generation, locally born farmer who really knows his strawberries. He explained in detail about how the farm works and how it not only produces strawberries, but raspberries too. We paid a visit to their packing and cooling facility nearby where technology here has saved many hours. Pallets of berries are stacked and packed in a matter of minutes. I wish I could have listened to more of his stories, but remember that little guy who kept eating strawberries? Yeah, he kept me busy. 

A big juicy Californian strawberry…which escaped Quinn. It was a hot day and the fruit was a perfect temperature for eating. Once the strawberries are picked, they’re rushed to the cooler and huge fans suck out all of the hot air from them, bringing them down to a temperature of around 32 degrees which is ideal for shipping. 

 Dinner was, of course, strawberry-inspired and prepared on site by Chef Tim Kilycoyne, executive chef and owner of the farm-to-table SideCar restaurant in Ventura. We dined on braised chicken enchiladas with a roasted strawberry mole and black bean quinoa salad, which was fantastic. The enchiladas and mole worked so well together. We also had chocolate-strawberry genoise cake and chocolate-dipped strawberries for dessert, and not to forget the best strawberry basil lemonade!!

The sun started to set on this fun day and eating out in the middle of the strawberry field was the perfect way to end it!!

But these guys just wanted to keep going and going…and going!

I decided to make some strawberry goat cheese bars with my California strawberries. This basic recipe has served me well and is really adaptable to any fruit. I sauteed the strawberries with some balsamic glaze until they became soft and thick like a jelly. I kept on thinking about that strawberry basil lemonade and how well the flavors went together, so I added some chopped basil to the shortbread base of the bar.

After being on this tour, it made me realize that strawberries aren’t just for eating straight out of the pack, there’s so much more they can be used for. I read in one of the cookbooks from the California Strawberry Commission that you can treat a strawberry like a tomato. So for every tomato dish (almost) try swapping it out for some strawberries. I already tried this with a bowl of guacamole and loved it!

Thanks California Strawberry Commission and Farmer Bill for a fun, educational and stomach-filling day!

Strawberry Balsamic Goat Cheese Bars
Yields 12
Print
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
45 min
For The Base
  1. 1 cup unsalted butter
  2. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  3. 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  4. 2 cups all purpose flour
  5. 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped finely
For The Filling
  1. 3 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and halved
  2. 1 tablespoon butter
  3. 1 tablespoon balsamic glaze
  4. 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  5. 4 ounces chevre goat cheese
  6. 4 ounces cream cheese
  7. 1/2 cup sugar
  8. 1 tablespoon flour
  9. 1 large egg plus 1 yolk
  10. Zest of two lemons
  11. 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  12. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  13. Powdered sugar for dusting
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 13x9x2 baking pan with foil, leaving enough hanging over the sides to lift out after baking.
  2. In a stand up mixer, beat the butter until soft. Add the brown sugar and salt and mix until combined. Turn the mixer off and add the flour and the basil. With the mixer on low speed, mix until the dough just comes together.
  3. Break the dough into clumps and spread over the base of the baking tray with your hands, making it as even as you can. Bake for about 20 mins or just turning golden brown.
  4. As the base is baking, prepare the strawberries.
  5. Heat a large saute pan over a medium heat and add the butter. Add the strawberries, sugar and balsamic and toss to coat the fruit.
  6. Cook for about 10-12 minutes and the mixture has turned thicker. Set aside.
  7. Beat the cream cheese and goat cheese together until soft. Add the white sugar and tablespoon of flour and mix well.
  8. With the mixer running, add the egg, egg yolk, zest, lemon juice and vanilla.Beat until smooth.
  9. When the base has baked, drizzle most of the strawberry pan liquid over it. Pour the strawberries into the cheese mixture and gently fold once or twice. You want to keep it marbled.
  10. Pour the whole mixture over the base and make sure it's level.
  11. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes and set in the middle. Let cool for at least one hour before storing in the fridge for another hour. Slice into squares with a sharp knife and dust well with powdered sugar.
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
Foodness Gracious http://foodnessgracious.com/
Disclaimer- Although I was compensated by The California Strawberry Commission, all thoughts, ideas and opinions are completely my own.

17 comments


  • Amazing event! Wish I could have been there, too. I love these bars, Gerry! Ps – see you Friday!!

    April 24, 2013
    • foodnessgracious

      Yayy, see you Friday!

      April 24, 2013
  • Hi Gerry,
    It was so nice to meet you, and we loved having you! You have the cutest kids in the world!
    Jodi

    April 24, 2013
    • foodnessgracious

      Thanks Jodi, they both loved you and the rest of the commission crew!

      April 24, 2013
  • I LOVE the goat cheese strawberry combo, fabulous!

    April 24, 2013
    • foodnessgracious

      What can I say, I should buy my own goat!

      April 24, 2013
  • I love strawberries with balsamic. What a fabulous event!

    April 24, 2013
    • foodnessgracious

      Laura strawbs and balsamic are always good together, and this is very mild..

      April 24, 2013
  • OMGoodness! These have my mouth watering! Pinning now – because I can’t wait to try them! Absolutely lovely combo of ingredients!!!

    April 24, 2013
    • foodnessgracious

      Thanks Carol, the base mix would be great with almost any addition!

      April 24, 2013
  • I was invited on this but had a conflict that day and couldn’t go. My daughter (6) and your daughter would have had a BALL together!

    treat a strawberry like a tomato. = interesting! I love that idea!

    And trying to listen to Bill’s talk while managing your 3 y.o…I can imagine :)

    This is a great looking pan of bars. Love the goat cheese and balsamic!

    April 24, 2013
    • foodnessgracious

      Aww bummer, thy would have had a blast :)

      April 24, 2013
  • I loved this post! Your kids are adorable!!! And omg, these strawberry bars… I need them!

    Can’t wait to see ya Friday :-)

    April 24, 2013
  • What a fun event! And your kids are so sweet and adorable.
    Your strawberry bars look so fresh and delectable.

    April 24, 2013
  • Dude, you got some really good pictures! I’m just getting ready for my post and I didn’t take much – I got too tired with the kids!

    Love these bars btw. Got any leftovers? :)

    April 29, 2013
  • Hey, new blog design. Looks great. And yeah, I’d be hightailing it to Farmer Bill’s too, if the CA Strawberry Commission would have me. Looks like great fun and you made a gorgeous recipe!

    May 01, 2013
  • Liz

    Such wonderful photos of your children, Gerry. And, of course, I’m drooling over your amazing strawberry bars!

    PS. Thanks for your kind words of sympathy.

    May 01, 2013

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