Sully’s Favourite Strawberry Shortcake

27 06 2011

When local strawberries appear at the markets, why not make strawberry shortcakes?

It’s finally summer!  When I was a kid, the beginning of summer meant the end of school, warm days at the beach and the start of strawberry season. My grandfather, Ralph (Sully) Sullivan had a camp on Washademoak Lake in New Brunswick and we would pick strawberries nearby. One of his favourite desserts was strawberry shortcake and my mom would whip up some biscuits and whipped cream to enjoy with the freshly picked berries. There is a reason why it’s a classic dessert – the combination is unbeatable!

Sully’s Favourite Strawberry Shortcake

Makes 6 shortcakes (there will be extra biscuits so just prepare more strawberries and cream for a larger yield)

Biscuits:

Makes 12 to 15 small biscuits – extras can be frozen

  • 2-1/4 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the countertop
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup milk or buttermilk

Strawberries:

  • 6 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • Sugar, to taste

Whipped Cream:

  • 1-1/2 cups whipping cream (35% M.F.)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

To Prepare the Biscuits:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, add flour, baking powder, salt and 2 Tablespoons of the sugar. Stir until thoroughly combined.
  3. Using a wire pastry cutter (or two sharp knives), cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles small pebbles.
  4. In a measuring cup, add the egg and milk and whisk together with a fork until smooth. Pour the milk/egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir briefly until it just comes together as dough.
  5. Sprinkle a small amount of flour onto a clean countertop or pastry board. Turn the dough out onto the counter and gently knead for about ten seconds. If the dough is very wet, add a bit more flour.
  6. Gently pat the biscuit dough into a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) thick. Using a cookie cutter or the top of a wine glass, cut the dough into 2″ circles. Re-shape the leftover dough and cut out more biscuits.
  7. Place the biscuits in a pie plate so they’re just touching each other. Sprinkle the tops of the biscuits with the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Let the biscuits rise at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  8. Bake the biscuits for 12 to 15 minutes in a 450 degree oven or until the tops are browned.
  9. Extra biscuits can be frozen and thawed at room temperature before using. (They’re also great with jam for breakfast!)

To Prepare the Strawberries:

  1. In a large bowl, add the berries and sugar to taste (the amount will depend on how sweet the berries are). Let the mixture sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before using. Note: You can mash them slightly with a potato masher if you prefer a juicer sauce.

Whipping the Cream:

  1. Place a metal or glass bowl (do not use plastic) and beaters in the freezer to chill about 30 minutes before beating the cream.
  2. Just before assembling the shortcakes, remove the bowl and beater from the freezer and pour the cream into the bowl. With a stand mixer or hand mixer, whip the cream on high until it begins to froth.
  3. Pour in the vanilla and add the sugar, one teaspoon at a time, while continuing to whip. Continue whipping the cream until it forms still peaks. Do not over beat.

To Assemble the Shortcakes:

  1. Split six biscuits in half through the middle and place the bottom of each in bowls. Spoon a half-cup of the sweetened berries over each biscuit bottom.
  2. Place the top of the biscuit on the berries and top with another half-cup of the strawberries.
  3. Spoon a generous dollop of whipped cream over each serving. Garnish with a strawberry if desired.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

A version of this recipe first appeared on Suite 101.com.

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Strawberry Shortcakes are a summer classic

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Spring Chicken Soup

9 06 2011

Lemon and dill brighten a soup packed with chicken and spring vegetables

Soups are perfect for showcasing the best of each season, from asparagus in the spring to cabbage in the fall and winter. Packed with spring vegetables, this particular recipe is light and summery, making it ideal for warmer weather. A bit of lemon and fresh dill brighten it up and give it a bit of zip.

Some Helpful Tips: Dill is best when it’s fresh (vs. cooked) so add it at the very end of cooking. Don’t use dried dill – it doesn’t have much flavour. Use fresh lemon juice and always zest a lemon whole, before cutting it open to juice it.

This soup is delicious served with fresh Cheddar-Herb Biscuits or Cheddar Toasts (or just some plain bread if you’d rather not fuss!)

Spring Chicken Soup

Makes about 9 to 10 cups

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 X 12 oz. (350 grams) chicken breasts or thighs/legs, bone in and skin on
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium leeks, chopped (white and light green parts only)
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 3 large spring onions (or 1 small regular onion), chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (you could also you a couple of garlic scapes, chopped finely)
  • The zest of one lemon, finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 lb. (450 grams) thick asparagus, woody ends trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 12 oz. (350 grams) baby red potatoes (about 2 cups), cut into quarters
  • 6 cups good quality chicken stock
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill (or more, to taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Pat the skin of the chicken dry and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. In a large stockpot or enameled cast iron pot (5.5 quart or larger), heat the olive oil on medium-high.  Add the chicken pieces and brown on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  2. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside on a plate. Add the carrots, leeks, celery, onions and garlic to the pot. Sauté until just beginning to soften, about three minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and thyme and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the asparagus pieces and potatoes. Pour in the chicken stock. Return the browned chicken pieces to the pot and make sure they are submerged in the stock.
  4. Cover the pot and simmer gently on medium heat for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove the chicken pieces from the soup. Remove the skin and discard. Using a fork, pull the meat off the bones. Chop it into small pieces and return the chicken to the soup, discarding the bones.
  5. Add the lemon juice,dill and chives and simmer the soup for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. To serve: Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with more fresh dill and chives if desired.
Bon Appétit and Enjoy!
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Farmers’ Market Report – June 5th, 2011

5 06 2011

The first day of the 2011 East Lynn Farmers' Market, Toronto

The farmers’ markets are underway for another year! Last week marked the launch of weekly farmers’ markets in Toronto. While there are a handful of markets that run through the year, the pickings tend to be slim between December and April. Now that there is locally-grown produce available, we can enjoy getting it straight from the farmers for the next five months or so. For a list of Ontario markets, check out Farmers’ Markets Ontario. (If you live elsewhere, a quick google search should point you in the right direction).

There isn’t a whole lot available right now but things should pick up considerably in about a month. Here were some of the highlights of this week’s markets:

Asparagus

Asparagus at its peak

It’s June and that means asparagus is at its peak! It seems to be a very good year for asparagus – the spears have been sweet and flavourful. The tables at the market Saturday morning were piled high with bundles of asparagus of various thickness (I prefer thicker ones but many people enjoy the delicate thin spears). It’s extremely versatile and can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I whipped up a simple egg white omelet for lunch the other day and threw in some steamed spears (see Asparagus 101 for cooking tips). I added some chopped ham, finely diced onion, chopped chives and a tiny bit of cheddar cheese. Served with a simple green salad, it was the perfect spring lunch. Eggs pair very well with asparagus: try a Crustless Asparagus Quiche. It can be dressed up with a bit of ham, cooked crab or lobster, your favourite herbs, different cheeses (swiss is nice) or diced red peppers.

A simple egg white omelet filled with steamed asparagus, fat-free ham, diced onions, chives and a bit of cheese is easy, nutritious and delicious.

Strawberries

Ontario strawberries are finally in season!

I was excited to finally see strawberries at the market. They are a little bit late this year, likely because of the cool, damp weather we had for most of May. The few I tried were on the tart side but still had more flavour than imported berries. As the weather warms up, hopefully the berries in coming weeks will be a little sweeter. For breakfast, I like to add a few sliced strawberries to my cereal. If you’re feeling a little more decadent in the morning, Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce are sure to be a hit.

Rhubarb

There was no shortage of rhubarb at the markets this week. It’s a bit of an acquired taste (I know quite a few people who don’t care for it) but properly sweetened, it can be quite refreshing. Vanilla Cheesecake with Rhubarb-Ginger Compote is a great make-ahead dessert for a spring meal. Or start your evening off with a rhubarb-based cocktail such as a Springtime Kir or a Rhubarb Refresher.

Onions and Herbs

There were a few fresh herbs available this week, including mint which pairs beautifully with strawberries in Strawberry Mojitos. I also saw garlic scapes and picked up a few baby onions. Chives are also starting to blossom (in my herb pot – I didn’t see any at the market) and are delicious in stir-fries or coated in a tempura batter and fried: Chive Tempura Blossoms.

Chive blossoms: pretty and edible!

Bon Appétit and Happy Marketing!

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The Friday Five – June 3rd, 2011

3 06 2011

A weekly round up food and drink-related news stories:

1.  If you grew up in the 80’s, you surely remember pudding pops.  Now that summer is here, you can make your own!  Bill Cosby would be so proud. (You Tube, chow.com)

2.  It’s National Donut Day in the U.S.!  Canadians can celebrate too – after all, with a Tim Horton’s outlet for every 12.5 Canadian citizens (that’s a rough estimate), we love our fried dough just as much as our neighbours to the south. (Huffington Post)

3.  The Stanley Cup final is underway so one of the teams will soon be spending the summer with the Cup (Go Canucks!). There are many legendary stories about the Cup’s off-season adventures – check out some of the great Food and Drink Moments with the Stanley Cup. (The Daily Meal)

4.  Food lovers on the internet were already scratching their heads about Donald Trump and Sarah Palin’s recent pizza lunch when Jon Stewart launched a funny tirade about it. (U.S. readers can watch it here.) (Chowhound, Comedy Central)

5.  The food pyramid has been replaced with a simpler ‘plate icon’ to help people figure out how to eat properly. Unfortunately, french fries still don’t count as a vegetable. (Eatocracy)

Have a great weekend!

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