Christmas is rapidly approaching, and it's always nice to plan to do something a little different for the holiday table. Recently I worked on a food styling project for Driscoll's strawberries, creating a Christmas tree centerpiece using whole strawberries and a Styrofoam cone (don't use floral foam--it's carcinogenic!). I secured the strawberries to the cone using toothpicks, and scattered sprigs of fresh mint between the berries. I used a mango slice, cut into a star shape, for the top. I think it's lovely--just make sure you get beautiful strawberries. By the way, the photo above was done by super-talented food photographer John Uher (www.johnuher.com).
Driscoll Strawberry Christmas Tree
Makes one table centerpiece
Special equipment: one green or white Styrofoam cone measuring 4-5 inches in diameter at the base and 12 inches high; one box of toothpicks
Four 1-lb containers of fresh Driscoll strawberries
1 bunch fresh mint
1 slice from a carambola fruit (also known as star fruit)*
*Note: If you can’t find a carambola, you can use a 1-inch star-shaped cookie cutter to cut out a star shape from a mango slice instead.
1. Wash the strawberries and blot them dry with paper towels. Pull off the green stem from each strawberry. Reserve a perfect strawberry for the top of the ‘tree’.
2. Push a toothpick through the hull end of a strawberry and secure it to the cone about 1/2 inch from the bottom edge. Secure another strawberry right next to the first one. Continue securing strawberries to the cone in circular rows up to its top, covering the cone completely. Secure the reserved strawberry to the top of the tree.
3. Remove some mint leaves from the bunch of mint and tuck them between the berries, placing them at about 3-inch intervals.
4. Secure the star-shaped carambola or mango slice to the top of the cone using a toothpick.