strawberries

Sauteed Strawberry Strawberry Shortcake

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My birthday is in a few days and usually we get together with the kids and grandkids to celebrate at my house. There’s always an apple pie for dessert at some point because I prefer homemade apple pie to birthday cake. And I always have apple pies in the freezer.

But this is an unusual year for our family: graduation and bat mitzvah celebrations, along with several birthdays, Father’s Day and so on — and so — no birthday get-together at my place.

(Actually, at some point during the week I will invite my sister-in-law Eileen and brother Jeff — and I’ll take out some pie for us to enjoy.)

In the meantime, for the two of us, I will celebrate with individual strawberry shortcakes. I made the biscuits already (they’re frozen). Whipped cream takes about 2 minutes in the mixer. I am hoping to find great strawberries — they are in season, so it should be easy.

Last week I actually couldn’t find wonderful berries, even at the Farmer’s market.

So I bought what they had and gave them a quick saute.

Which is what I will do again if the berries aren’t perfect.

This was quite delicious. Here’s the recipe, for strawberry shortcake when you can’t get the best berries.

Sauteed Strawberry Shortcake 

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 4 cups cut up fresh strawberries

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 2 tablespoons orange flavored brandy or rum

  • Shortcake biscuits

  • Sweetened whipped cream

  • Fresh mint for garnish

Heat the butter in a saute pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the berries, stir to coat them with butter and cook for one minute. Sprinkle with the sugar, toss and pour in the brandy. Stir, cook briefly and set aside. Cut the biscuits in half. Place the bottoms of each on dessert plates. Layer with some of the berries and some of the whipped cream (reserve some whipped cream for the top). Cover with the biscuit tops. Garnish with a blob of whipped cream and some mint leaves.

 Makes 8 servings

 

Biscuits 

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup cake flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel, optional

  • 8 tablespoons cold butter

  • 2/3 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Mix the flour, cake flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda into a bowl. Stir in the lemon peel, if used. Cut the butter into chunks and add it to the bowl. Work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (or use a food processor on pulse). Pour in the buttermilk and mix until you can form a soft ball of dough. The dough will be slightly sticky. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead a couple of times. Roll the dough gently to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out circles with a doughnut cutter or the bottom of a glass. Place the circles on the cookie sheet. Bake for about 20-23 minutes or until they have risen and are lightly browned.

 Makes 8

Strawberry Shortcake (Without the cake)

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The strawberries are fabulous right now -- the local ones anyway. They're sweet, juicy and fragrant. They're small to medium rather than gigantic -- like the year-round supermarket staples, which are dry, tasteless and smell like plastic. The strawberries you can buy now are the kind I remember strawberries from long ago, (especially the ones I picked right off the plants in my parents' garden).

If you are lucky enough to get good, seasonal strawberries, try this recipe. I call it Strawberry Shortcake without Cake because the whipped cream mixture, which is made with mascarpone cheese, is thick, almost like a really moist cake, and yet it is sort of like whipped cream.

So easy too!

Remember this recipe next Passover. Or Valentine's Day. Or July 4th for that matter!

Make the cream part ahead and top it with berries just before you serve it. Lovely with coffee or tea and also an after dinner drink (brandy and so on).

Strawberry Shortcake without Cake

  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2/3 cup mascarpone cheese (or use whipped cream cheese)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh orange peel
  • 2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

Wash and dry the berries and remove the hulls. Make incisions into each berry as if to cut slices but do not slice through. Set aside. Whip the cream and mascarpone cheese with the sugar and orange peel until the mixture is thick. Fold in the Balsamic vinegar. Spoon equal amounts of the cheese mixture onto 4-6 dessert plates. Place sliced strawberries on top, gently moving the “almost” slices to fan them slightly.

Makes 4-6 servings

 

 

How to Make Whipped Cream

I wait all year for these: local, organic summer strawberries. Their fragrance is so like cotton candy it reminds me what it feels like to be a kid at an amusement park.  These, the small, richly-red, juicy strawberries of summer always make me wonder why I ever buy any other kind, because I know what strawberries are supposed to be and taste like. They are NOT supposed to be some colossal science fiction-fruit, pale-orange/red with white tips, without much taste and dry as pillow stuffing: the kind you find most often in the supermarket.  If you’ve never tasted a real strawberry, locally grown, do yourself a favor and find some. Make sure you buy extra because, if you’re anything like me you’ll eat a carton of them on the way home. Look for the 100% organic so you know it’s non-GMO and hasn’t been sprayed with pesticide.   You don’t need anything else to make strawberries the perfect dessert or snack. They are amazingly, naturally sweet.  If you insist, maybe a squirt of orange juice or orange brandy.  Or homemade whipped cream. Homemade. Because store-bought whipped cream is loaded, unnecessarily, with sugar.                            Here’s my recipe:                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Whipped Cream   1 cup heavy whipping cream  1 teaspoon sugar  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional  Refrigerate a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric mixer) and beaters for about 30 minutes or until chilled. When ready, pour the cream into the bowl and beat at low speed, then gradually increasing the speed to high for 1-2 minutes or until the cream is slightly thickened. Add the sugar and optional vanilla and continue beating until the cream is thick.  Makes about 2 cups

I wait all year for these: local, organic summer strawberries. Their fragrance is so like cotton candy it reminds me what it feels like to be a kid at an amusement park.

These, the small, richly-red, juicy strawberries of summer always make me wonder why I ever buy any other kind, because I know what strawberries are supposed to be and taste like. They are NOT supposed to be some colossal science fiction-fruit, pale-orange/red with white tips, without much taste and dry as pillow stuffing: the kind you find most often in the supermarket.

If you’ve never tasted a real strawberry, locally grown, do yourself a favor and find some. Make sure you buy extra because, if you’re anything like me you’ll eat a carton of them on the way home. Look for the 100% organic so you know it’s non-GMO and hasn’t been sprayed with pesticide. 

You don’t need anything else to make strawberries the perfect dessert or snack. They are amazingly, naturally sweet.

If you insist, maybe a squirt of orange juice or orange brandy.

Or homemade whipped cream. Homemade. Because store-bought whipped cream is loaded, unnecessarily, with sugar.                          

Here’s my recipe:                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional

Refrigerate a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric mixer) and beaters for about 30 minutes or until chilled. When ready, pour the cream into the bowl and beat at low speed, then gradually increasing the speed to high for 1-2 minutes or until the cream is slightly thickened. Add the sugar and optional vanilla and continue beating until the cream is thick.

Makes about 2 cups

Classic Strawberry Shortcake

I know it was Julia Child’s 100th birthday this week and she was an important person in my life. Although it was my Mom who taught me the basics, Julia taught me to take giant leaps beyond. I didn’t cook every recipe in her first volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but I did make many of them. A boyfriend had given me that book — a treasured first edition — which is now gravy stained and coverless and signed by Julia herself on one of my favorite recipes (I met her when I took a cooking course along with several hundred other people like in some College 101 class). 

 So, Happy Birthday Julia. 

 But this week was also a friend’s birthday. A what you call “round number” birthday, so I invited her to my house, along with another friend, who recently celebrated that same round number birthday. We had a few hors d’oeuvre with a nice few glasses of wine, then grilled fish with  Grilled Pineapple Salsa  (and a few vegetables) for dinner. 

 SO healthy. We are all at that nice round number watch-what-you-eat age. 

 But dessert? Oh well. Why count calories when summer strawberries are out and you can eat Strawberry Shortcake? 

 Which is what I made instead of baking or buying a birthday cake. 

 Not a morsel was left on our plates. 

  
Classic Strawberry Shortcake 

 2 pounds fresh strawberries  
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar 
orange, mango or papaya juice 
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 
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 a few tablespoons of juice 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. Roll or press 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. 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.

I know it was Julia Child’s 100th birthday this week and she was an important person in my life. Although it was my Mom who taught me the basics, Julia taught me to take giant leaps beyond. I didn’t cook every recipe in her first volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but I did make many of them. A boyfriend had given me that book — a treasured first edition — which is now gravy stained and coverless and signed by Julia herself on one of my favorite recipes (I met her when I took a cooking course along with several hundred other people like in some College 101 class).

So, Happy Birthday Julia.

But this week was also a friend’s birthday. A what you call “round number” birthday, so I invited her to my house, along with another friend, who recently celebrated that same round number birthday. We had a few hors d’oeuvre with a nice few glasses of wine, then grilled fish with Grilled Pineapple Salsa (and a few vegetables) for dinner.

SO healthy. We are all at that nice round number watch-what-you-eat age.

But dessert? Oh well. Why count calories when summer strawberries are out and you can eat Strawberry Shortcake?

Which is what I made instead of baking or buying a birthday cake.

Not a morsel was left on our plates.


Classic Strawberry Shortcake

2 pounds fresh strawberries
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
orange, mango or papaya juice
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
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 a few tablespoons of juice 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. Roll or press 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. 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.

Strawberry Shortcake

I made the strawberry shortcake for my guests last weekend and even though I bought the berries in a supermarket (no farmer’s markets near me open yet), the dessert was a winner and everyone, including the two people on Weight Watchers ate every last crumb. 
 Adding a little Grand Marnier is a good tip if the berries aren’t the absolute best. 
 I also made the biscuits a little fatter than usual – 7 circles cut out of the dough instead of the usual 8. They were moist and fluffy and took in all the lush strawberry juices and thick, almost-whipped cream. I used 6 of the biscuits for company. I ate the extra one for lunch a few hours before my friends came. My mother always told me not to experiment with recipes for company, so I thought it would be a good idea to make sure the thicker biscuit would be okay.

I made the strawberry shortcake for my guests last weekend and even though I bought the berries in a supermarket (no farmer’s markets near me open yet), the dessert was a winner and everyone, including the two people on Weight Watchers ate every last crumb.

Adding a little Grand Marnier is a good tip if the berries aren’t the absolute best.

I also made the biscuits a little fatter than usual – 7 circles cut out of the dough instead of the usual 8. They were moist and fluffy and took in all the lush strawberry juices and thick, almost-whipped cream. I used 6 of the biscuits for company. I ate the extra one for lunch a few hours before my friends came. My mother always told me not to experiment with recipes for company, so I thought it would be a good idea to make sure the thicker biscuit would be okay.

Strawberries Sighted by Cook for Etsy Lunch

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.