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





Vanilla Cheesecake with Rhubarb-Ginger Compote

30 05 2011

Rhubarb at the market

The first local fruit to hit the markets where I live is rhubarb. After a long winter of apples, apples and more apples, it’s refreshing to see something new. Rhubarb is remarkably versatile and can be used in both sweet and savoury recipes. In desserts, it pairs very well with ginger, vanilla and of course, strawberrries.

Cheesecake is always a popular dessert and is a great choice for entertaining because it can be made in advance. It’s also surprisingly easy; don’t be intimidated by the length of the recipe, it’s very simple if you take it step-by-step. Be sure to use a springform pan so you can easily remove and cut the finished cake.

Once strawberries come into season, you can always add a few to the rhubarb compote (a compote is basically a sweetened fruit sauce). Try a ratio of half strawberries and half rhubarb and sweeten to taste.  The cheesecake base is pretty neutral so you can top with other favourite fruit sauces if desired.

Vanilla Cheesecake with Rhubarb-Ginger Compote

Makes one 9″ cheesecake

Crust:

  • 5 oz. (140 g) gingersnap cookies (hard ones, not chewy ginger cookies) – will yield about 1-1/2 cups of crumbs
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a food processor*, pulse the gingersnaps until they become fine crumbs. (*if you don’t have a food processor, place the cookies in a sturdy bag and crush until fine with a rolling pin or wine bottle). You should have about 1-1/2 cups of crumbs. Place the crumbs into a medium bowl.
  3. Melt the butter (it can be done in the microwave in about 45 to 60 seconds). Pour into the gingersnap crumbs and stir until the crumbs are completely coated.
  4. Press the crumb-butter mixture into the bottom of the springform pan, making sure it’s in an even layer.
  5. Bake the crust for five minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool while preparing the cream cheese filling.

Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 3 X 8 oz. (250 grams) packages of cream cheese (regular, not low-fat), at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (regular, not low-fat)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • The seeds from one vanilla bean (split the bean in half lengthwise with a sharp knife and scrape out the tiny seeds. Discard the empty pod)
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3 large eggs
  1. With a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat together the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, vanilla, vanilla bean seeds and salt until smooth.  Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  2. Turn the beater speed to low and add the eggs one at a time. Mix until smooth. Tip: Crack the eggs, one at a time, into a separate bowl before adding to the batter to ensure no shell pieces get into the filing.
  3. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the crust. Bake the cheesecake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until just set in the centre, about 40 to 50 minutes.
  4. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let cool slightly. Refrigerate for at least three hours before serving.
  5. To serve: Top with rhubarb compote (see recipe, below). Run a knife between the pan and the edge of the cake to loosen it before unhinging the springform pan.

Rhubarb-Ginger Compote:

Makes about 2 cups

  • 1-1/2 lbs. (24 oz. / 680 grams) rhubarb (before leaves and roots are trimmed), will yield about 4 cups of rhubarb once trimmed and cut up
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar (or more/less, to taste)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch + 2 Tablespoons cold water
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  1. Trim any leaves and root ends from the rhubarb and discard. Chop the stalks into 1/2″ chunks.
  2. Place the rhubarb pieces into a medium saucepan. Add the water and bring to a gentle simmer on medium heat.
  3. Cook until the fruit begins to soften, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the sugar, salt, ginger and vanilla. Stir to combine and continue to simmer until the rhubarb is completely soft. Use a large spoon or potato masher to crush the fruit.
  4. In a cup, add the cornstarch and water and mix well until smooth. Whisk the cornstarch slurry into the rhubarb mixture and turn heat to medium-high.
  5. Cook until the mixture begins to thicken, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the butter until melted. Remove from the heat and let the compote cool completely before using. Extra sauce will keep in the fridge for a few days.
  6. To finish the cheesecake: Spoon the cooled rhubarb compote over the cheesecake, spreading it in an even layer. Serve extra sauce on the side.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Vanilla cheesecake with rhubarb-ginger compote and a gingersnap crust

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.





Maple Rice Pudding

17 04 2011

A bottle of Canadian maple syrup

If you live in Eastern Canada or New England, maple syrup is everywhere at this time of year. Whether you take the time to visit a sugar shack or are shopping at the supermarket, there are usually a variety of syrups readily available. It’s versatile, delicious and makes a great gift if you’re visiting friends abroad.  If you live don’t live in an area that produces maple syrup, it can often be found at specialty shops or by mail order. It’s worth seeking out the real thing – imitation syrups and flavourings are a poor substitute.

This dessert is made with arborio rice, which can be found at most grocery stores. Arborio is an Italian rice that’s often used for risotto. It gives off starch as it cooks, making it perfect for creamy rice pudding.  Don’t skip the step of folding in the whipped cream at the end – it lightens the texture of the pudding, making it less dense.

Serving Tip: I like to scoop the pudding into individual dishes (martini glasses work well). For an extra boost of maple flavour, drizzle a bit of syrup over the pudding before serving.

For the recipe, check out Suite 101.com: Maple Rice Pudding.

Maple Rice Pudding, garnished with chopped walnuts

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Cream Puffs with Maple-Caramel Sauce

23 11 2010

Cream puffs (a.k.a. profiteroles) filled with a spiced pumpkin cream and topped with a buttery maple-caramel sauce.

When I want to make an autumn dessert, I think about seasonally appropriate ingredients such as apples, pears, caramel and of course, pumpkin.  Pumpkin pie is a staple at most Thanksgiving tables and spiced pumpkin is popular in everything from lattes to ice cream. As a bonus, scientists have long known that the scent of pumpkin pie is an aphrodisiac so it’s the perfect finale to a romantic dinner.

If you’re looking for something a little different from pie, these cream puffs (a.k.a. profiteroles) fit the bill perfectly.  The pumpkin-cream filling has all the flavours of classic pumpkin pie and the maple-caramel sauce is a decadent and delicious topping (which is also great on ice cream!).  The recipe has a number of steps but none are difficult and everything can be prepared in advance and assembled at the end of the meal.

Click here to see the recipe from Suite 101.com: Pumpkin Cream Puffs with Maple-Caramel Sauce.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Thanksgiving Desserts

7 10 2010

 

Maple-Caramel Custards are a delicious alternative to pumpkin pie at the Thanksgiving table

 

Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend so it’s time to start thinking about the dinner menu.  Turkey will be on most tables and I’ve given a number of suggestions for excellent side dishes (Thanksgiving Side Dishes).  However, for many people, the highlight of the holiday meal is dessert.

Pumpkin and apple pies are popular choices, however, I sometimes enjoy serving desserts that are a bit different yet still seasonally appropriate.  Pears, apples, pumpkin, nuts and cranberries are abundant at markets right now so it’s the perfect time to incorporate them into your menu.

Here are a few suggestions for a delicious finish to the Thanksgiving feast:

Pumpkin Pie with Maple-Walnut Praline – This impressive looking dessert is easy to make.  If you don’t feel like fussing with the praline, the filling makes a delicious basic pumpkin pie.

Apple Pie – A classic.  Be sure to serve it warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Apple-Caramel Tart – An elegant alternative to apple pie.  It’s made with frozen puff pastry, making the preparation quick and easy.

Harvest Strudel – Pears, apples, cranberries, nuts and warming spices make this dessert a nice change from basic pie.

Pear and Pecan Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce – A rich caramel sauce poured over a decadent pear and nut-studded pudding takes this comfort food dish to new levels.

Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Tartlets – Raspberry season is over in most areas, however, this recipe works just as well with frozen berries.

Maple-Caramel Custards with Sea Salt – This rich custard showcases the flavour of maple beautifully.  If you can find some colourful maple leaves that have fallen, they make a fun presentation.

Bon Appétit and Happy Thanksgiving!

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Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Tartlets

22 08 2010

Fresh raspberries and dark chocolate are an unbeatable combination in these mini-tarts.

Raspberries are at their peak right now and it’s a real treat to use fresh berries in pies and tarts.  Local raspberries can be found at roadside stands, farmer’s markets and most supermarkets by the end of August.  However, they are very delicate and don’t store well so they should be used within a day of purchase.

These mini-tarts are very easy to make but they do require a bit of time between steps so the ingredients can cool.  They’re great for entertaining because they can be made in advance and the shells won’t get soggy thanks to a layer of chocolate protecting the tartlet shells.  You could also make one large tart instead of mini tartlets.

Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Tartlets

Makes 8 mini tarts (about 3″ each in diameter).  Recipe can be doubled or halved as desired.

  • 8 mini tart shells – I sometimes use Tenderflake frozen mini-tart shells or you can make the pastry from scratch: Basic Pastry
  • 2 ounces / 57 grams dark chocolate (70% cocoa).
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch + 2 Tablespoons water
  • A pinch of salt
  • 8 fresh raspberries for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  If using frozen shells*, let them stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.  Use a fork to prick the bottom of the shells.  Place on a baking sheet and blind bake (ie. bake the empty shells) until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes.      *If you are using freshly made pastry, line mini-tart pans or a muffin tin with the pastry and crimp the edges.  Prick the bottoms with a fork and bake until golden, about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove baked pastry shells from the oven and let them cool completely.  They can be baked a day or two in advance and kept in an air-tight container until ready to use.
  3. To prepare the chocolate layer:  Melt the chocolate in a double-boiler or in the microwave in one-minute increments.  Spoon some of the chocolate into each tart shell and use a pastry brush to coat the entire inside of the shell. Refrigerate the shells until the chocolate has hardened.
  4. To make the raspberry filling: In a medium saucepan, add 2 cups of raspberries, 2 Tablespoons of water and the sugar.  Bring to a simmer on medium-high heat. Cook until berries begin to soften, about 8 minutes.  Lightly mash berries with a spoon.
  5. In a mug or glass measuring cup, mix together the cornstarch and water until smooth.  Pour into the saucepan of raspberries and stir to combine. Cook raspberry mixture until it becomes glossy and thickens, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  6. Remove the raspberry filling from the heat and let cool slightly.  Spoon filling into the chocolate-lined tart shells and refrigerate shells until the filling is cool and firm.
  7. Garnish tarts with fresh raspberries and serve.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!





Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes

20 05 2010

Strawberries and cream is a classic combination.

I was very excited yesterday to find the first Ontario strawberries of the season at the market.  They were considerably more expensive than the anemic imported strawberries sitting next to them but their sweet flavour was worth the extra couple of dollars. They actually tasted the way strawberries should taste and not like half-ripe, flavourless berries that were shipped hundreds of miles!  Hopefully the great weather we’ve been having this spring means we’ll have a long season to enjoy them.

Bigger isn't always better: The imported strawberry (left) may be big, but it doesn't have the juicy, bold flavour of the small, locally grown berry (right).

A perfectly ripe, in-season strawberry is pretty much perfect as-is but you can have fun with them too.  They’re great in pies, shortcakes, jam or even cocktails but one of my favourite ways to enjoy them is sprinkled with a bit of sugar and topped with real whipped cream.  Strawberry and vanilla-flecked cupcakes topped with creamy frosting and fresh berries turn this idea into a fun dessert that is perfect for summer gatherings.  They’re sure to be a hit with kids of all ages (the last time I made them, they disappeared within minutes!).

Click here to get the recipe from Suite 101.com: Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

A Strawberries and Cream cupcake