Blyth & Burrows’ Valencia with Strawberry and Campari Ice Cubes.

Today is Independence Day, so chances are you’ve got strawberry shortcake in your future – the very near future.

But after the July 4 picnic has been gobbled up and all the fireworks have lit up the sky, there will still be strawberries to consume, especially if you’re one of those people who picked (or grew) quarts and quarts of them. Once you’ve had your fill of shortcake and strawberry pie, what’s next?

How about a cocktail, or a spicy strawberry chutney? We’ve rounded up a few alternatives to help you use your stash in less predictable ways. Enjoy!

RI RA’S STRAWBERRY-BASIL MOJITO

Patrick Morang, manager at Ri Ra Irish Pub & Restaurant in Portland, first made this Strawberry-Basil Mojito when he worked behind the bar at David’s Restaurant in Monument Square. It soon became the No. 1 drink there.

“I couldn’t even take it off in the wintertime,” he said.

When strawberry season rolled around this year, Morang decided to revive the drink and add it to Ri Ra’s summer menu. He knew it would be popular, but he didn’t know how popular: When he looked at the numbers at couple of weeks later, he discovered that the mojito was one of Ri Ra’s top 10 menu items for the entire restaurant, not just the drink menu.

What is so enticing about this summertime concoction? “It’s really refreshing, and it doesn’t taste boozy, and it’s really balanced,” Morang said. “And it’s really pretty.”

The spearmint simple syrup that goes into the cocktail is versatile, and can be used in any bourbon drink, such as a mint julep or bourbon smash. It’s also delicious used as a dressing on fresh fruit, such as sliced melon, Morang says.

Makes 1 drink

1 strawberry

2 basil leaves

11/2 ounces white rum

2 ounces fresh Key lime juice

1 ounce Spearmint Simple Syrup (recipe follows)

2 ounces soda water

Lime wedge

Build in collins glass. Cut the top off the strawberry and place it in the glass with the basil leaves. Muddle together until smooth. Top with ice. Add the white rum, Key lime juice and Spearmint Simple Syrup. Cover glass with shaker and shake vigorously. Top with soda water. Garnish with a lime wedge.

SPEARMINT SIMPLE SYRUP

Makes about 1 cup

Big handful spearmint leaves

1 cup sugar

Rinse the mint well and drain. Put the sugar in a small saucepan and toss the mint on top. Crush the mint into the raw sugar with a wooden spoon to release its flavor. Add 1 cup water.

Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently until the sugar is dissolved. As soon as the syrup starts simmering rapidly, remove it from the heat and set aside to infuse for 20 minutes. Strain, discarding the mint, and let cool to room temperature. Store in the refrigerator for no more than 20 days.

Ri Ra’s Strawberry-Basil Mojito.

BLYTH & BURROWS’ VALENCIA WITH STRAWBERRY AND CAMPARI ICE CUBES

Joshua Miranda, owner of Blyth & Burrows in Portland, says his staff was looking for a summer sipper to put on the cocktail bar’s seasonal menu, so creative director Caleb Landry developed this beautiful low-alcohol drink, the Valencia, which is served over Strawberry and Campari Ice Cubes that add both color and flavor. At the restaurant, they use three different kinds of vermouth (Alessio Bianco, Carpano Bianco, Montanaro Bianco), Verjus Blanc and their own favorite brand of sherry. He simplified the drink for the home bartender.

Don’t skimp on the tonic, though, Miranda advised.

“You really should invest in good tonic,” he said. “It’s like night and day. (Good tonic) is crisper. It doesn’t have as much sugar as other tonic.”

STRAWBERRY AND CAMPARI ICE CUBES

In a blender, blend 8-10 medium strawberries with 2 cups of water. Strain through a mesh strainer.

Add 1 ounce of Campari to the strawberry liquid and pour the mixture into ice cube molds. One-inch molds are preferable because the cubes won’t melt in the drink as fast.

VALENCIA

Makes 1 drink

21/2 ounces bianco (sweet white) vermouth

1/4 ounce dry sherry

A bar spoon lemon juice (about 1 teaspoon)

3 ounces Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic

Mix the vermouth, sherry and lemon juice and pour into a glass over 4 Strawberry and Campari Ice Cubes. Top with the tonic.

RAYMOND BRUNYANSZKI’S SPICY STRAWBERRY CHUTNEY

Brunyanszki, owner of Portland’s Danforth Inn, began making a recipe he found for strawberry chutney 15 years ago, when he lived in his native Netherlands. Over the years he has tweaked the recipe many times until it has become his own.

“Usually, it is a condiment for Indian food that I cook at home,” Brunyanszki said. “I really like Indian cuisine. I would say at least once a week I cook some kind of curry with flatbread, and then I make some cucumber relish and this as a chutney.” At first glance it appears to have a lot of salt, but Brunyanszki said it’s the chutney’s sweet, tart, spicy and salty combination of flavors “that makes it really super interesting.”

“I’ve learned over time that salt and strawberries go extremely well together,” he said. “If you want to really ramp up the strawberry flavor, then adding salt to strawberries is very helpful.”

Brunyanszki stores the chutney in a 25-ounce Weck preserving jar, but you can use Ball jars too, of course.

Yield: One (25-ounce) jar

1 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 cup shallots, chopped

1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 lemon, scrubbed

11/2 pints fresh strawberries

1/4 cup granulated sugar

11/2 teaspoons salt

11/2 teaspoon chili flakes

Heat the oil in a large frying pan until shimmering, then add shallots, ginger and cardamom. Lower the heat and lightly saute for 10 minutes.

Zest the lemon and set the zest aside. Squeeze out the lemon juice and set aside.

Turn off the heat under the shallots and spices and add the zest. Allow the mixture to cool for about 1 hour. In the meantime, wash and hull the strawberries and cut them into 1/2-inch pieces.

Add 1/4 cup water, 3 tablespoons of the reserved lemon juice, the sugar and the salt to the shallot mixture and stir. Add the strawberries and chili flakes, turn the heat to medium and cook for another 10 minutes, being sure that the sugar dissolves. Put the chutney in the canning jar (or jars) and store in the refrigerator for a maximum of 1 week. Stir the chutney occasionally with a spoon to maintain freshness and keep it from separating.

Chef Neil Ross’ Strawberry Gazpacho with Ricotta.

CHEF NEIL ROSS’ STRAWBERRY GAZPACHO WITH RICOTTA

Neil Ross, the new chef at Little Giant in Portland, serves this cold soup – a twist on the Spanish classic – on the restaurant’s summer menu. At the restaurant, he garnishes it with pickled strawberries, shaved ricotta salata and chive flowers, as well as soft ricotta. We’ve simplified the garnish here.

Makes 6 to 8 (half-cup) servings

2 cups Maine strawberries, cleaned and halved

1 Kirby cucumber, peeled and quartered

1 medium red bell pepper, de-stemmed and seeded, diced small

1 garlic clove, sliced

1 shallot, halved

1/4 cup sherry vinegar, plus more to season

3/4 cup cold-pressed olive oil

Salt to taste

1/2 cup ricotta cheese, for garnish

Fresh basil, for garnish

In a large bowl, combine the strawberries, cucumbers, bell pepper, garlic and shallots with the sherry vinegar and macerate in the refrigerator for 12 hours or overnight. Pour the mixture into the blender and blend until smooth. Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain the mixture and discard any solids. Return the liquid to the blender and, with the blender on slow, gradually add olive oil. Don’t over blend, or the olive oil will become bitter. Season to taste with salt and extra sherry vinegar.

Divvy the gazpacho up among cups or bowls and top each serving with about a tablespoon of ricotta and some fresh basil leaves.

Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MeredithGoad

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