Paris Cheeses

Of course, if you go to Paris, you simply must go to a cheese shop and buy a selection of beautiful cheeses. Here are some of the ones I tried…

Rocamadour cheese

Pungent, sharp, and creates a strange sensation at the back of the throat.

Crottin Super Meme cheese

Crottin Super Meme: a fresh tasting, unctuous raw milk goat cheese

Dome de Vezelay cheese

Dome de Vezelay: creamy, a little bit goaty…leaves a tingle on the tongue…would be really nice in a dessert (like cheese cake).

Bleu d'Auvergne cheese

Bleu d’Auvergne: semi-firm,  not too pungent blue with some creaminess. Good!

Compte 12 mois cheese

Compte 12 mois: If you’ve never tried Compte I’d say it’s like a sophisticated swiss cheese.  I’d recommend going for the 18 month old, though,  as the favour is a bit more pronounced.

Wild Blueberry Scones (Gluten-free)

Wild Blueberry Scones (Gluten-Free)

Recipe from ‘The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread‘. The texture was nice, but I did find they could have been sweeter (not surprising, considering the small amount of sugar the recipe calls for). I did make a few modifications: I used butter instead of vegan spread, and I sprinkled some raw sugar on top of the scones before baking.  I didn’t flatten the scones too much before baking (a good thing,  since they didn’t rise all that much). Finally,  I found the yield was off and would have resulted in giant scones,  so I cut the dough into more pieces.

Orange Spice Cookies (Gluten-free)

image

Recipe from ‘The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Cakes and Cookies‘.  These turned out really well, both flavour and texture-wise.  I did find they needed to bake quite a bit longer than the recipe recommended.   The only modification I made was sprinkling the cookies with a bit of maple sugar before baking.

Update:  It turns out the baking time may have been accurate after all.  Even though I stored them in a tin, they hardened up quite a bit in the 1 1/2 days between the time I baked them, and the time I served them.  They were still good, but they were quite crunchy!

Restaurant Review: Bier Markt

MenuTonight I attended my first ever Concordia Alumni Relations event: ‘an evening of beer tasting and food pairing at Bier Markt’. Though I had never heard of Bier Markt before registering for the event, I have since learned that it is an Ontario-based chain whose Montreal location has been open for a couple of months. It is located on Rene Levesque where high-end steakhouse Queue De Cheval used to be. Having never been to Queue De Cheval, I can’t say how the restaurant’s appearance has been altered since that time, but I can say that the decor is quite nice. I found the bricks on the ceiling especially interesting.bricks Bier Markt

The place was quite busy when I arrived at about six. I checked my coat at the (free) coat check down stairs, then headed upstairs and checked in at the Concordia table. I eyed the menu which was table d’hôte style for the group and included 3 courses with a beer ‘pairing’ to go with each course, all for a flat fee of $30 which included tax and tip. This was quite a deal, especially when one takes a look at their regular prices. I also scanned the beer menu, which includes over 150 beers, about a third of which are on tap.

Palm Speciale Belgian Ale

Palm Speciale AleThe waiter who took our order was nice enough, and took the time to give us his recommendations food-wise. We received our first beer, the Palm Speciale Belgian Ale. Its menu description reads: ‘Brewed approximately 40 miles outside Brussels in Steenhuffel, Belgium, Palm is a well-balanced, approachable amber Ale that is full-flavoured up front and finishes with notes of spice and citrus.’ I thought it had a good, if not particularly remarkable, flavour,  some bitterness, and altogether was very drinkable. As it was only a half-pint of beer, and the wait for the first course wasn’t short, I drank about half of it before the soup arrived.

Bier Markt Mushroom Soup

The mushroom soup consisted mostly of an oily, lukewarm broth, which was faintly mushroomy in mushroom soupflavour. There were some sliced mushrooms (mostly button) in the soup as well, and some parsley floating on top. Needless to say, it wasn’t very good. I think I could have produced something similar in about five minutes with a mushroom stock cube and some button mushrooms. Okay, so to play the devil’s advocate here: I know that groups can be a pain, and that maybe the cooks thought the people in the group wouldn’t really appreciate/pay attention to the food. However, this soup is on the regular menu (so they should know how to make it), and soup is the easiest thing to prep a large quantity of ahead of time. For those reasons, I think the devil’s going to have to accept defeat, here. Since no beer pairing could have enhanced this soup, the beer-food pairing was a fail.

Service & Beer Pairing Gripes

Service started to get spotty at this point. The wait for mains was, again, not short, but the real issue was that our beers arrived when we were half-way through our main courses. This was an especially glaring faux-pas considering the nature of the event. It is apparent to anyone who has ever poured draft beer that (surprise!) it takes time to properly pour draft beer. Yes, they were busy. However, this problem could have been avoided by either pairing a bottled beer with the main, or offering different beer pairings for each of the three options. Pairing the same beer with each of the three different mains doesn’t really make sense anyway- if you take food-beer pairing seriously- which Bier Markt doesn’t really seem to do. In any case, the food should really have been held until the beer made it to the table.

Bier Markt Main: Salmon

SalmonAs for the food itself, considering the fact the I don’t eat meat, I was forced to choose the Atlantic salmon, something I don’t usually eat due to both sustainability and health issues. That said, the portion was large, and the fish was properly cooked and seasoned, though some fresh herbs and perhaps a wedge of lemon to give it some zip would not have been out of place. The tomatoes were fine, though not flavourable enough to add much to the equation, and the garlic chips, though properly cooked, were too few in number to enhance the salmon.  The quinoa cakes were good, though they also could have used more punch, and the bok choy and wilted spinach were fine…but unremarkable. Concerning the proportions of the dish, I could have done with a smaller portion of fish, only one quinoa cake, and more vegetables.

Erdinger Weissbier

When I finally received my pint of Erdinger Weissbier, I found it quite enjoyable. The menu description reads: ‘This Wheat Bier Erdinger Weissbiercomes from Erding in the heart of Bavaria. Erdinger Weissbier has a beautiful golden-straw colour that owes its Champagne-like effervescence to keg fermentation. Brewed according to the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516, Erdinger is an excellent match with seafood or chicken dishes.’ While it is easily the most bitter wheat beer I’ve ever tasted, it also has some of the lightness and sweetness one expects from wheat beers. While I found it quite enjoyable on its own, I wouldn’t say it went particularly well with the salmon.

Früli Strawberry Wheat Ale

Früli Strawberry Wheat AleThe next beer to arrive was the Früli Strawberry Wheat Ale. Its menu description reads: ‘Früli is a unique blend of high-quality, lightly hopped Belgian White Bier and pure strawberries. This all-natural Bier is a soft, refreshing indulgence that is
perfect as an aperitif, with a salad, or even as a dessert’. The intensity of the strawberry flavour was actually surprising. It reminded me of Fragoli, a wild strawberry liqueur. It definitely makes an interesting dessert pairing.

Chocolate Cake

The dessert itself, however, left a lot to be desired. I chose the chocolate cake, seeing as how late February is not exactly the season for strawberries in Montreal. It was okay, though I ate it more out a sense of duty than anything else. Though described as being a dark chocolate cake, the depth of flavour just wasn’t there, and I could taste no hint of mocha.

Chocolate Cake

If coffee or tea was eventually offered or not, I don’t know, but by the time I left, it still hadn’t been. Having only visited Bier Markt this once, I can’t comment on any of the other menu items, but, personally, I’d recommend steering clear of the food. If I do go back, it will be for the beer, and perhaps the oysters (of which they offer four different kinds).

‘Till next time!

Restaurant Reviews & The Industry in General

I’ve struggled with the idea of posting in-depth reviews of restaurants on here for a while, due to the following reasons:

1) I know that working as a cook can be difficult, and don’t want to unduly criticize anyone.

2) I wasn’t sure whether I should risk being ostracized for any potentially negative remarks I might possibly make.

However, presumably, there are people out there (like you) who are interested in my opinion. My opinion represents my view of an experience I’ve had, and since someone else may have an entirely different experience, their opinion may diverge quite violently from my own…and that’s okay. What is important to remember is that my opinion is just that; nothing more, nothing less.

In regards to the second reason listed above, well, I highly doubt I’ll ever want to work in another restaurant in this city (as a cook) unless they magically start paying their employees decent wages and stop taking them for granted. I don’t know of any other industry where a degree, that takes a year of full-time schooling to obtain, often results in a starting salary of $10/hr, zero benefits, no breaks, a dangerous work environment, and no respect from one’s employer. I don’t know if things are better for cooks in other countries, but here in Montreal (and, from what I’ve read, the rest of Canada and the States) I have to say that cooking is an unsustainable industry. A wage of between $10 and $14/hr just isn’t enough to live off of, especially considering the lack of benefits. You may be able to pay your expenses (if you keep them to a bare minimum) but forget about things like saving for retirement, having children, or buying a house.

If cooking is a trade, then cooks should be making $20/hr and receive benefits like workers do in other trades. Since restaurant owners are notoriously cheap, greedy, and crooked, expecting their employees to work long hours while trying to screw them out of the little holiday and overtime pay to which they are legally entitled (and often succeeding), the only way this will ever happen is though provincial or nationwide unionization. Until then, cooking should stop being touted as a trade or a ‘career’ and instead be looked upon as an alternative to working as a cashier (something that pays a similar wage, but requires minimal knowledge or skill).

Though there are many people who will tell you that ‘you don’t go into cooking to get rich’, fewer people will tell you just how low the pay is or how bad the working conditions are. One often has to deal with sweltering heat, broken equipment (that the restaurant owner doesn’t want to pay to get fixed), slippery floors, terrible wait staff, plate shortages, and sociopathic co-workers, to name but a few things. I could go on, but thinking all this over, again, is starting to bring me down.

So, for the reasons I’ve already mentioned, I recommend you only go into cooking if:

1) You really don’t know what else to do (though I suggest you think long and hard until you can think of a few options)
2) You’re willing to slog it out for 10 years or so, work constantly, toot your own horn, and stomp over anyone who gets in your way until you’re finally able to secure a position as executive chef somewhere
3) You are, or want to become, an alcoholic and/or drug addict, and need a job where your boss will look the other way as long as you show up and do some work
4) You’re a workaholic who doesn’t like money
5) You just want to get some experience before starting your own restaurant/bakery/food truck, etc. (Save up some money first and be prepared for the worst)
6) You know someone who can hook you up with a job that pays well (overseas, or possibly at an airport or hotel)
7) You are a masochist, and especially enjoy it when you’re working hard, trying to do ten things at once, and one of your co-workers walks by and tells you that your technique is flawed, because you are not doing it the same way Escoffier’s grandmother did it back in the nineteen hundreds.

So, in conclusion, I know that there are many people out there who love cooking, and I love cooking too…but I hate ‘the business’ as it is called. I don’t see an reason why skilled, hardworking, passionate employees should be payed an unsustainable wage and forced to deal with dangerous working conditions, and abusive employers (and coworkers) in order to do the job they love doing. Many cooks seem to regard these negative working conditions as a badge of honour, or as an example of their commitment or toughness…but this most likely just a justification they need to make to themselves in order to compensate for their reality. If they were offered a higher salary and better working conditions, while still being able to produce a high caliber, quality product, I doubt many would refuse.

Best Potatoes for Oven Fries

oven friesThe other day while I was at IGA I came across something I had never seen before:  yellow-fleshed, red-skinned potatoes.  The brand name is Pisonneault, and they are grown here in Quebec- in Saint-Michel to be exact.  Though sadly not organic, the potatoes are very local, and are produced by a family farm.  Additionally, they make excellent oven fries!  I have never had such delicious, crispy oven fries.

Just follow these simple steps in order to make your own batch:Pinsonneault Potatoes

1) Procure your potatoes: remember, not all potatoes are created equally, and some varieties will make better oven fries than others due to starch content, etc.


2) Wascutting friesh potatoes, remove any eyes, then cut them up. I rarely peel my potatoes unless I’m making mashed potatoes or somesuch; there are a lot of nutrients in the skin, not to mention a lot of flavour. It’s also less work!

 

3) Soak your fries in water: Even if you only do it during the time it takes your oven to preheat, don’t skip thissoaking the fries step.  It will help make them extra crispy.  You can even leave them soaking in the fridge overnight, so that they’re ready to go the next day!

4) Preheat oven to 425 F, and season your fries.  You want a fairly hot oven for oven fries.  Once your oven is heating, it’s time to strain the fries, removing as much water as possible.  You can even dry them off with a towel, if you like.  I like to season them right on the baking sheet, but you can use a bowl if you want to be all proper.  You’re going to need oil, enough to coat all your fries well- I always use olive oil.  And you’re going to need salt.  You can also add pepper, paprika, smoked paprika, curry, oregano, cayenne- whatever spices you like.  Toss your fries to make sure the spices are evenly dispersed.

Seasoning the oven fries5)  If your fries are not already on a baking sheet, put them on one.  However, make sure that your baking sheet is large enough to ensure the fries are not crowded.  If you don’t have a large enough baking sheet, use two…or three.  This is important if you want crispy fries.

6)  Once your oven is hot enough, it’s time to get that (or those) baking sheet(s) in there.  About every 6 minutes or so, use a spatula to move the fries around so that the same side is not always facing the baking sheet.  After about twenty minutes, they should be done.

7) Enjoy!

Cocktail Hour: Cranberry Margarita

Cranberry MargaritaI visited the Nutcracker Market recently, and decided to purchase some cranberry syrup.  This syrup is manufactured by a company called Nutra Fruit, which specializes in products made with cranberries grown here in Quebec.  According to their website, Quebec is the world leader in the production of organic cranberries.  I’m not quite sure why none of their products (that I’ve seen) carry an organic certification, but I can tell you that all of their products that I’ve sampled so far are of exceptional quality, and that the cranberries are grown locally.

I decided to try adding this syrup to the ingredients of a basic margarita, and the result was quite delicious, so I’ve decided to share the recipe with you.

Cranberry Margarita Recipe

(For 1  drink)

2 oz tequila (I used Jose Cuervo Gold, but any decent tequila will do)

1/2 lime (juice)

1 tsp triple sec (I added a little to my cocktail, but since the cranberry syrup will add sweetness and flavour, it can be omitted)

2 tsp cranberry syrup

Rim margarita glass with salt.  Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake.  Stain into glass.  Garnish with rosemary sprig, to increase the festivity, if desired garnish with a sprig of rosemary. Drink.

Cheers!

 

Coconut Water vs. Maple Water

 

Maple Water: a New Product

I do purchase coconut water on a fairly regular basis, because I enjoy the flavour, and also because I tend to drink a lot of water, and I know that itcoconut water vs. maple water‘s important to drink other liquids as well in order to maintain optimal salt, sugar, and mineral levels.  I recently came across maple water at the store, and was wondering  how it compares to coconut water.

Maple Water vs. Coconut Water: Flavour

First things first:  taste.  The maple water has a faint, sweet,  maple sugar flavour, while the coconut water has a more aggressive, coconutty, base-ic flavour, which is more of an acquired taste.

Coconut Water vs. Maple Water: Sustainability

Next, sustainability:  Considering that the maple water is from Quebec, while the coconut water is not (I’m not quite sure where the coconuts are grown, but I know that we don’t grow them here), maple water comes out ahead on the locavore scale.  Aside from that, both products are completely natural, organic, and fair-trade.  Maple water is the pure, undiluted sap of the maple tree, and carries a the special NAPSI (natural, authentic, pure, sterile, integral) certification developed specifically to assure the quality of maple sap.  Because the sap is harvested in Quebec, a fair-trade certification is not necessary.

Coconut water is the juice of young green coconuts, and Coco Libre carries a USDA organic certification.  They do not carry a fair-trade certification, however, they do state, on their website, that they pay farmers a premium price for their coconuts and that “3% of the sales of [their] suppliers’ sales goes to a Partnership fund used for economic, social and environmental development, and fair trade promotion”. [Update 16/04/2016- It seems that some of their products do now carry a fair-trade certification, though I did not see anything about this on their website…?]

Coconut Water vs. Maple Water: Nutrition

Finally, nutrition.  Here is where things get a little bit complicated.  Upon comparing the two via their nutritional fact charts, one can clearly see that maple water contains fewer calories than coconut water per serving.  However, while the coconut water nutritional fact chart indicates that it contains potassium, sodium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, the maple water fact chart gives almost no indication of its nutritional benefits.  The front of the carton does boast that it contains 2% polyphenols per 250ml serving…but that is pretty much the only indication of its potential health benefits.  Additionally, their website is still not up and running, and as such, does not offer any additional information. [Update 16/04/2016- still not up, wow…someone is slacking…]

So…What Are Polyphenols, Anyway?

According to Wikipedia, they “are a structural class of mainly natural, but also synthetic or semisynthetic, organic chemicals characterized by the presence of large multiples of phenol structural units”.  Phenolic compounds also contribute to the sensory properties of foods (such as their colour and aroma).

Okay, But Why Should I Care About Them?

Well, because, as mentioned in this study, Polyphenols: Antioxidants and Beyond, “Polyphenols are the most abundant antioxidants in the diet”.  The study goes on to say that “current evidence strongly supports a contribution of polyphenols to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and osteoporosis and suggests a role in the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases and diabetes mellitus”.

Sounds Good, What Do They Know About the Phenols in Maple Water?

As early as 1964, researchers Filipic and Underwood had identified the presence of the compounds vanillin, coumarin, syringaldehyde, and coniferaldehyde in maple sap.   In 2011 researchers Liya Li and Navindra Seeram published a paper entitled “Quebecol, a novel phenolic compound isolated from Canadian maple syrup”.  Additionally, at the 241st American Chemical Society’s National Meeting in Anaheim, in March 2011, Navindra Seeram spoke about how he and his team have “now isolated and identified 54 beneficial compounds in pure maple syrup from Quebec, five of which have never been seen in nature”.  He goes on to say “it’s important to note that in our laboratory research we found that several of these compounds possess anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which have been shown to fight cancer, diabetes and bacterial illnesses.”

Okay, so phenols are antioxidants, and are probably good for me.

What About Vitamins and Minerals?

In ‘The Chemical Composition of Maple Syrup’, David C. Ball states that “the two most common minerals in sap are potassium and calcium, found at concentrations of 26–75 and 8–56 ppm, respectively. Sap also contains trace (< 10 ppm) of magnesium, manganese, sodium, phosphorus, zinc, and copper.”  Since one ppm is equivalent to 1 milligram of something per liter of water, this means that per cup, coconut water contains 530 milligrams of potassium while maple water contains between 6.5 and 18.75.  As for calcium, coconut water contains 60 mg per serving while maple water contains between 2 and 14 mg.  Coconut water obviously crushes maple water in terms of vitamin and mineral content.

Cytokinins: Another Type of Antioxidant Found in Coconut Water

Additionally, coconut water also contains antioxidants in the form of cytokinins. These are a type of plant hormone that promote cell division, also known as cytokinesis. Two specific cytokinins found in coconut water, kinetin and trans-Zeatin, have been studied and found to have anti-ageing effects on human cells.

So, after all that research, only two facts have become clear: for those in Quebec, or near there, maple water is the more sustainable (local) option, while coconut water packs more of a nutritional punch. Both are good products, so choose whichever you wish according to your needs…’Till next time…cheers!

Cocktail Hour: Piger Henricus Gin

Piger Henricus gin martiniOkay, so, a micro-distilled gin, made in Longueuil, Quebec…how cool is that?  Exciting things are happening on the Quebec gin scene…first, Ungava…now this.

Why Piger Henricus?

First, a little background information.  According their website, the distillery Piger Henricus is named after the latin word for a type of furnace used by alchemists during the middle ages.  The English translation of Piger Henricus is ‘Slow Harry’, and it was named as such due to its use in long and slow operations.  This type of furnace is also known as an athanor.

Piger Henricus- Flavour

Next…taste!  This gin is made using traditional flavouring agents such as juniper berries, coriander, angelica root, lemon peel and cardamom…however, the surprise ingredient, parsnip, is what makes it really special.  According, once again,  to their website, parsnip gives the gin a “delicate bitterness and a subtle floral aroma”…however, I would disagree and say that it gives it a subtle sweetness and earthiness.  Certainly, this is a quality product, and its flavour is smooth, unique, and quite delicious, providing justification for its price, which is comparable to that of Hendrick’s Gin (when one takes into account the smaller size of Piger’s bottles).

The Subversive Distillers

This is the first offering from the  ‘The Subversives Distillers’, a company made up of four guys whose desire to produce more micro-distilled booze in Quebec led them first to the states (in order to learn their craft), and subsequently back here, to set up shop.  Cheers to that!  I’ll be awaiting their next offering in eager anticipation.

Foraging Fun: Yarrow, Self-Heal, and Wild Strawberries

Self-healI’ve recently set my mind towards trying to identify which edible (or otherwise useful) plants I could discover growing close to home…whether in my boyfriend’s yard up north, or near my apartment in Verdun.  Getting started with plant identification may not be the easiest thing, but once you learn the name of a certain species you will likely have no problem identifying it when you come across it again, and indeed, if it is a weed, will start to see it everywhere!

Self-Heal

I had been wondering about one wildflower with very peculiar purple flowers which I had noticed grows all over my boyfriend’s lawn.  I was finally able to identify it by browsing through some wildflower photos on my wildflowers.com.  I originally checked my Peterson field guide, Edible Wild Plants: Eastern/Central North America, but I didn’t have any luck there.  It is called Self-Heal, or Prunella vulgaris, and is also known as All-heal.  After determining the plant’s name, I was easily able to do a all-healbit more research into its possible uses.  It is in the mint family,  and the entire plant is edible.  It contains the vitamins A, C, and K.  Medicinally, it can be used as a poultice to treat wounds, or as a tea for sore throat.  I collected some, and decided to use the flowers and stems to make tea, and to add the leaves to a salad.  The tea, which I drank cold, was quite flavourful and meaty- a bit like stinging nettle tea.  I found it tasted a bit mustardy, as well.  Overall, it was quite pleasant.  The leaves, when added to a salad, were a little unremarkable, but good.

Yarrow

Yarrow (or Achillea millefolium) is another plant which I have seen growing in abundance in the yard.  It has also traditionally been used to help heal wounds (hence another of its common names, ‘soldier’s woundwort’).

Yarrow Identification

yarrow-drawing
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Its fern-like, aromatic leaves, and distinctive flower centers (which are actually made up of small disc flowers) make it fairly easy to identify.  However, one must make sure to positively identify it, as one who is not paying much attention to its distinguishing characteristics may mistake it for poison hemlock.

poison hemlock
Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum)

Conium maculatum

Conium maculatum

In light of this, I would like to present you with two drawings which outline the distinguishing features of each plant. As you can see, they are quite different.  The leaves of the poison hemlock resemble those of carrot or parsley, while those of yarrow are fern-like.  The odor of the poison hemlock is rank, while that of yarrow leaves is pleasant and herbal.

Finally, hemlock flower stalks radiate from single points in umbels (like an umbrella) while yarrow flower stalks are more half-hazard, and, additionally, the yarrowappearance of the individual flowers is quite different.  If you are paying attention ( as you should always be when harvesting food from the wild), it is easy to spot the differences between the two.

Yarrow Uses

Besides its use in wound-healing, it has been used medicinally for pain-relief (for menstrual cramps, headaches, and toothaches), as an anti-inflammatory (to reduce fever), and as a treatment for colds and sore throats.  In the culinary arena, it has traditionally been used in beer-making, to make liquors and bitters, and also as a cooked vegetable and seasoning herb.

After tasting both the flowers and the leaves, I learned that the flowers were quite bitter, while the leaves were rather bitter-sweet and reminded yarrow tinctureme a bit of lavender or rosemary.  I decided to use the flowers to make a tincture, and use the leaves as an herb.  I figured I could use the tincture both as a bitter in cocktails, and medicinally.  The tincture worked out quite well, turning a pretty pale green and becoming quite bitter during the two weeks I let it steep.  I chopped up the yarrow leaves and mixed them with some chopped up onions and mushrooms to make a stuffing for fish, and that was quite good, also.  I’m not quite sure why it is no longer used as an herb, but I plan to collect more this summer, dry it, and use it both as a tea, and a seasoning.

wild strawberries growingWild Strawberries

On to wild strawberries.  These are also easy to identify, as they look just like the strawberries you buy at the store…only they’re much smaller, and more flavourful.  If you’ve ever grown strawberries (or seen them grow) you will immediately recognize their leaves.  In order to find more berries, one must simply follow the runners (shoots the plant produces in order to propagate itself).  The strawberries up north (in the Laurentians) usually appear in July.  They are not as sweet as commercially grown varieties, and their flavour is more concentrated.  Eat them as they are, orwild strawberries (runners) use them in any preparations you wish.  Also, I recently came across a blog, Wellpreserved.ca, which suggests drying strawberry hulls and using them to make tea.  I think that this is an excellent idea!  No waste!

Anyway, until next time, happy foraging!