Monday, March 22, 2010

Berry wonderful!

Strawberries are here! I love the season's first offering of these sweet-but-sassy berries (which, actually, are not berries). So every time the first strawberries appear at the grocery store, I am compelled to buy them. Especially when they are running a 'buy two get a deal' thing. I then try to use the as fast as I possibly can, because I don't want to waste anything. You know the routine. Buy something on special, throw it in the bottom of the fridge.                           Two weeks later.              Digging through fridge and find special deal asparagus that you never used for anything. I know. It stinks. What I have started doing with miscellaneous produce items that I cannot seem to use in time is freeze them. This works especially well with strawberries. You hull them and throw them in a freezer Ziploc bag. They can be used for all sorts of things. Throw them in a smoothie with a banana, some honey, yogurt and a little milk. I also make jam out of them if I happen to collect enough.
Lately, though, I have been getting better at using the abundance of produce I end up with. One way is my second son, who thinks he is a garbage disposal. He loves, I mean loves strawberries. He thinks they are apples (he is only one and a half). If he sees them he starts saying, "Apples, more apples. Apples. Thank you." How can I resist? He will eat as many as I let him.
I also like to take fresh strawberries, hull and quarter them, plop on some yogurt (flavored is fine, or if you have unflavored mix it with jam or honey) and smash up some cereal like Honey Bunches of Oats on top of it. It's delicious. It is like a parfait, but in about 2 minutes. I love serving that with breakfast on our days off.
They are also great in salads with walnuts and feta. Add a raspberry vinaigrette (I like Ken's light) or balsamic dressing and you have a great start to a meal.
Well, I recently found another great addition to my strawberry repertoire. Strawberry shortcakes. I am not talking about those spongy, sweet circles you buy in the store. Real shortcakes. They are a snap to make, and filled with homemade whipped cream and fresh, ripe strawberries, I am going to be making these more often!
The shortcakes come together in food processor in a matter of moments. Just flour, salt and leavening, then add some cold butter and heavy cream. Roll them out and cut them into *heart shaped* shortcakes-so much fun! Perfect for an evening with just you and your man-or in our case, me and my men.

While they are baking in the oven, hull and quarter the strawberries and mash a few for a bit of a different texture. Whip up the cream and there you go!
I served mine after an easy dinner of pasta and salad, but it made the evening feel special and they were delicious!
You can make the shortcakes ahead, so all you have to do is fill them for a special meal. There is a lot of the shortbread leftover, so I just bake it up and use it for breakfast with some homemade blackberry jam and lots of butter...mmmm! It can't get any better than this!

Strawberry shortcakes

 3 cups cake flour, plus more as needed
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water


2 cups hulled and quartered strawberries
1 tablespoon blackberry preserves
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Whipped Cream

1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

powdered sugar for dusting

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with vegetable-oil cooking spray.
            To make the shortcakes: Sift together the flour, the 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, the baking powder, and kosher salt in a medium bowl. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the butter and pulse 3 or 4 times at 2-second intervals until the dough resembles coarse meal. Add the cream and process until the dough begins to come together, a few seconds more. It will still be crumbly at this point. Do not overwork or the shortcakes will be tough.
Transfer the dough to a well-floured work surface. If the dough is sticky, sprinkle it with more flour. using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rectangle about 12 inches long. Fold the left end to the middle and the right end up over the left end for for 3 layers. Roll out the dough to 3/4-inch thickness. using a 3-inch-wide heart-shaped cutter, cut into 3 individual cakes. Gather the scraps, roll out the remaining dough, and cut out 3 more hearts.
Place the shortcakes at least 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops lightly with the beaten egg mixture and sprinkle lightly with the 2 teaspoons granulated sugar. Bake until the shortcakes are light golden brown. 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the strawberries: Stir together the strawberries, blackberry preserves, granulated sugar, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Put 1 cup of the mixture in a small bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher. Add to the strawberry mixture and set aside.
To make the whipped cream: Combine the heavy cream, sour cream, granulated sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of  a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until speed until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. The cream should slowly fall over forward when lifted with a whisk. Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer.
To serve, using a serrated knife, cut 2 shortcakes in half horizontally and place the bottom halves on each of the 2 plates. Top with the strawberries, dividing evenly. Add a dollop of whipped cream and top with the remaining sugar.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts