I wish I lived closer to Brooklyn. Not just because it’s closer to my granddaughter Lila, age 4, but because I just read that the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket has fresh, wonderful local strawberries. I can almost smell them from where I sit, in Connecticut.
Kitty Greenwald, who makes lunch once a week for the folks at Etsy.com – they call their gathering Eatsy — spotted all sorts of spring wonders at the market – sweet lettuces, green garlic, baby cukes and so forth. But she said she couldn’t resist the berries, big, small, juicy, red and ripe because “strawberries, after months of apples and pears and citrus, shone.” http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/eatsy-cook-in-residence-shares-her-strawberry-and-mozzarella-8383/
I love the dish she made, pairing sweet berries with delicate mozzarella cheese and sharp arugula leaves, a powerful combo of color and flavor, drizzled with just a bit of olive oil and Balsamic vinegar.
I bought berries today too, but mine came from a supermarket. Like Kitty, I choose the berries by color and fragrance, but I know that packaged strawberries can’t measure up as well to the kind she used for the Etsy.com lunch.
Even so, I am having dinner guests tomorrow and plan to use the berries in old fashioned Strawberry Shortcake. This dessert is always a winner and if the best berries are not available, well, a splash or two of Grand Marnier should help.
Old Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake
1 quart fresh strawberries
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon peel
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk, approx.
1 cup whipping cream
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Wash the berries and slice them into a bowl, sprinkle them with 2 tablespoons sugar and the Grand Marnier and set aside. In another bowl, mix the flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, salt, baking powder and lemon peel. Add the butter and work into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal. In a small bowl, beat the egg and milk together until well combined. Add the liquids to the flour mixture and mix until a soft dough forms, adding more milk if necessary to make a smooth dough. Roll the dough to 1/2-inch thick circle on a lightly floured surface. Cut out 8 circles with a cookie cutter. Place the circles on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12–15 minutes or until puffed and lightly brown. Remove from the oven and let cool. Whip the cream with the remaining teaspoon sugar until the mixture stands in soft peaks, but is still pourable. Cut the biscuits in half and place each bottom half on a serving dish. Place the berries and any accumulated juices on top. Pour some of the cream on top. Top with the remaining biscuit halves. Makes 8 servings.