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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Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce

8 03 2011

Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce

March 8th is Pancake Day (a.k.a. Shrove Tuesday)!   It’s a great excuse to whip up some pancakes for breakfast (or have ‘breakfast-for-dinner’ if there’s no time in the morning).  Adding lemon zest and a bit of fresh juice gives these breakfast treats a hint of lemon flavour that is perfect with strawberry sauce. Fresh strawberries aren’t in season in most areas yet but frozen ones work just as well. Of course, maple syrup also pairs well with the pancakes and is seasonally appropriate.

Ricotta is a soft, mild cheese that can be found in the dairy case of most supermarkets. However, it’s also possible to make it at home and doesn’t require any exotic ingredients: Home-Made Ricotta.

Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce

Makes about 10 pancakes (recipe can be halved or doubled)

The Strawberry Sauce can simmer while you’re preparing the batter and cooking the pancakes (see recipe below).

Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Finely grated zest of one medium lemon (about 2 teaspoons of zest)
  • 2 cups milk (1% or 2%)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • Oil for cooking
  • Strawberry Sauce (see below for recipe)
  • Lemon zest, powdered sugar or fresh strawberries as garnish (optional)
  1. In a large bowl, add flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and lemon zest.  Use a fork to stir until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
  2. Pour the milk into a large measuring cup.  Break the eggs into the milk and beat with a fork until combined. Melt the butter in the microwave for 1 minute (or in a saucepan if you don’t have a microwave).  Let cool slightly and stir it into the milk/egg mixture.
  3. Slow pour the milk and egg mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients, stirring as you add the liquid.  Add the lemon juice and whisk until the batter is fairly smooth.
  4. Break up the ricotta with your fingers and add to the batter.  Stir until combined (there may be some small lumps of ricotta but that’s ok).
  5. In a large skillet, add a small amount of oil and heat on medium-high until a bit of batter dropped in sizzles. Working in batches, pour three or four circles of batter into the pan.  Cook until browned on the bottom, about 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat slightly and flip the pancakes over.  Continue to cook until the bottom in browned and they are just cooked through.  Move cooked pancakes to a plate and repeat with the remaining batter.
  6. Top with Strawberry Sauce (below) or maple syrup and garnish with lemon zest, powdered sugar or fresh strawberry slices if desired. For an extra decadent treat, add a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream to each serving.

Strawberry Sauce

  • 3 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (or to taste)
  1. Add all ingredients to a large sauce pan.  Heat on medium-high, stirring occasionally.  Lower the heat to medium and let the strawberries simmer while the pancakes are cooking (about 15 minutes).  Use a potato masher or fork to crush the cooked strawberries.  Serve over pancakes or waffles.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Strawberry Mojito

29 05 2010

Strawberry mojitos are very refreshing on a hot afternoon.

The weather in Ontario this May has been incredible – unseasonably warm (hot even!) and very dry, which is unusual.  It feels like it could be mid-July instead of the end of May.  If this is any indication of what’s ahead, we’re in for quite a summer.

When the weather heats up, naturally we look for ways to cool down.  Iced tea, ice cream, lemonade and popsicles are just some of the treats that keep us cool.  For many adults, enjoying some frosty beverages on a patio is the perfect way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon with friends.

I was at the farmer’s market this morning and local strawberries were abundant. There were also a number of vendors selling bunches of fresh mint.  It was then that I had a light-bulb moment: hot weather + front porch + strawberries + mint = strawberry mojitos! A mojito is a Cuban cocktail traditionally made with rum, lime, mint , sugar and sparkling water.  I first learned to make them while attending a wedding in Cuba. The resort we were staying at had a demonstration one day on how to make Cuban cocktails such as Mojitos, Cuba Libres and Hemingway Specials.  The key to making a proper mojito is to muddle the mint well. There are wooden muddlers that you can buy but a wooden spoon will work just fine.

Balance is important in this drink – you don’t want to venture into Girl Drink Drunk territory.  Keep the sugar to a minimum and let the strawberries and lime add a sweet-tart note.  To keep things easy, I use simple syrup to sweeten the drink instead of cane syrup or bar sugar (a quick dissolving sugar).  It’s very easy to make and can be used in a number of cocktails.

Strawberry Mojito

Makes 1 drink – can easily be multiplied

  • 5 large mint leaves
  • 1 to 1-1/2 oz. simple syrup (see recipe below)
  • 3 large or 5 small very ripe strawberries, hulled and cut into a small dice
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice – from about 2 limes
  • 1-1/2 oz. white rum
  • Club soda
  • Ice
  • Fresh mint and a strawberry to garnish
  1. In a highball glass, add mint leaves and 1 oz. of simple syrup. Use a muddler or wooden spoon to mash the leaves in the syrup until they are broken up.
  2. Add the strawberry pieces and mash them with the spoon until they are broken up and juicy.
  3. Add ice cubes and pour in lime juice and rum.  Stir until combined and top with club soda.  Taste and add a bit more simple syrup if desired.
  4. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and a strawberry.

Simple Syrup

Simple syrup is one part water, one part sugar so it can be adapted to any quantity.  For a half cup of syrup you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  1. In a small saucepan, add sugar and water and bring to a simmer on medium heat
  2. Stir sugar until it dissolves.  Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool before using.  Syrup can be stored in the fridge for a few days.  Extra syrup can be used in a number of other cocktail recipes.

Cheers 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





Farmer’s Market Report – July 6th, 2009

6 07 2009

 

Sweet local peas are at their peak in July

Sweet local peas are at their peak in July

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve been to the farmer’s market due to a very inconvenient city worker’s strike here in Toronto that temporarily shut down some of the markets.  However, it appears that the affected markets are going to re-open this week and luckily there are others that weren’t shuttered at all.  Good thing, because our summers are extremely short and there is a limited amount of time to get the great fresh produce that our local farmers have to offer.

Despite the unseasonably cool and damp weather this spring/summer in Southern Ontario, I was excited to see that the summer harvest has begun.  Strawberries were the main attraction and there is still a lot of asparagus available.  The very first cherries and zucchini are showing up and peas are in full swing.  Green beans and tiny baby potatoes were also abundant.  Fresh lettuces, beets, green onions, various peppers and a variety of carrots were available as well.  There is easily enough available now that you could design a menu around strictly local produce that would offer great variety and abundance.  Such a nice change from a few months ago!

Here are some simple suggestions for using what’s in season now:

Strawberries

Undoubtedly the star of the markets right now, strawberries are at their peak and don’t require too much dressing up to taste good.  Slice a few, sprinkle with a small amount of sugar and enjoy with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream. You can also mix them into some vanilla yogurt.  I enjoy a few strawberries sliced on top of my cereal in the mornings and it only takes a short time to whip up some biscuits and jam for a weekend breakfast.  Stay tuned in the days to come for some new strawberry recipes I’ve been working on. 

Asparagus

Asparagus will be nearing the end of it’s season soon so it’s time to take advantage of this seasonal delight before they’re gone. I’ve posted quite a few recipes this year including a crustless quiche that’s perfect for breakfast or lunch, asparagus orzo, grilled asparagus spears with goat cheese and prosciutto and a divine roasted asparagus lasagna that is fantastic (if a bit rich!).  Check out the archives at epicurious.com for many more great asparagus ideas.

New Potatoes

Although stored potatoes are a winter staple, the first new ones of the summer have a flavour and texture that is more sweet and delicate than older potatoes.  They require little embellishment: just boil or steam and serve with a bit of butter, salt and pepper. Or make a classic vinaigrette and toss with small boiled potatoes and fresh green beans for a refreshing and simple side dish. Keep it simple and save elaborate potato recipes for fall and winter!

Peas

Fresh new peas are so sweet that they bear no resemblance to the the canned kind (or even the frozen ones that I use through the winter).  Simply boil until just cooked through (NOT to mush!) and finish with a bit of butter, salt and pepper – yum!  If you are able to find ones that are very small, they don’t even need to be cooked before adding to dishes such as pasta.  A couple of months ago, Food and Wine magazine featured a pasta with asparagus, sage and peas that was delicious.  I added a bit of chopped ham to add some protein.  It also takes advantage of the fresh asparagus and herbs that are available now. Click here for the recipe: Penne with Asparagus, Sage and Peas.

Asparagus and strawberries at the farmer's market

Asparagus and strawberries at the farmer's market

Enjoy!

Trish





Fresh and Simple Inspiration – June 17th, 2008

17 06 2008

As we enjoy the last few days of spring,  here are a few simple ideas you can try with what’s in season right now:

Why don’t you…

-Serve fresh cut-up strawberries mixed with a little sugar (a tablespoon or so) over your favourite ice cream?

-Slice some strawberries to top your favourite cereal?

-Toss some fresh asparagus (trim off woody ends) with a couple of teaspoons of olive oil and roast in the oven (@ 425 degrees for approximately 15 minutes)?  To serve, finish with some salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

-Stir-fry some cut up asparagus in a little bit of oil, a dash of soy sauce, some minced garlic and a spoonful of sesame oil?  Sprinkle with some toasted sesame seeds and serve with your favourite grilled teriyaki meats and some rice.

-Enjoy a nice crisp glass of champagne or sparkling wine with a bowl of fresh ripe strawberries?   It’s a classic pairing.

-Slice some fresh basil leaves into slivers and toss with chunks of fresh mozzarella and a drizzle of good quality balsamic vinegar?  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

 Bon Appetit & Enjoy!





Quick Strawberry Jam and Easy Drop Biscuits

15 06 2008

I love a good berry jam or jelly.  My mother used to always make big batches of strawberry jam and raspberry jelly when the berries were in season to keep through the winter.  It was an annual ritual for previous generations.  Unfortunately, canning large quantities can be time consuming so a lot of people don’t do it anymore.   I’ve been making do with jams I find at various shops or markets but it occured to me that it’s actually pretty easy to make small batches for immediate consumption (I do not include instructions for canning large quantities but you can easily find information if you’re interested in doing so.  See http://www.pickyourown.org/jam.htm).  Now that strawberries are in season, what could be better than fresh jam and hot biscuits? 

 

Quick Strawberry Jam

I don’t put very much sugar in mine as I like the fresh taste of the berries to shine through.  However, if you prefer a sweeter jam, adjust sugar to taste.

Makes about 2 cups of jam

  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 package (57 g / 2 oz.) powdered pectin – I use Certo brand in a red box
  1. Place berries, sugar and water in a large saucepan.  Heat berries on medium-high until mixture begins to simmer and the berries are begining to cook down (approx. 7 minutes). 
  2. Using a potato masher, lightly mash berries.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and add pectin.  Cook on a gentle simmer until it begins to thicken, approximately 30 minutes.
  4. Stir mixture and bring to a boil for approximately 5 minutes.  Keep stirring it so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.
  5. Spoon jam into a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.  It will get thicker as it cools.  It will keep covered in the fridge for a few days.  Serve on toast or with fresh baked drop biscuits (recipe follows).

 

Easy Drop Biscuits

These biscuits are very easy – no rolling required.  They are best eaten hot out of the oven with butter or jam.

Makes 6 biscuits

(VEGETARIAN)

  • 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 Tbsp (3/4 of a stick or 1/8 + 1/4 cup) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing baking sheet
  • 1 cup milk (low fat is ok)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a cookie sheet with butter and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda until combined.
  3. Cut butter into small pieces and add to dry mixture.  Using a wire pastry cutter*, cut butter into small pieces until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.  See photo:
  4. Add milk and stir into mixture until combined – dough mix will be quite wet.  Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup,  scoop up a large spoonful of dough mixture and drop onto cookie sheet.   Repeat to make six biscuits.
  5. Bake until golden brown on top, approximately 15 minutes.  Enjoy hot out of the oven with fresh jam.

*If you do not have a pastry cutter, you can use two sharp knives to cut the butter into the dough.

Bon Appetit & Enjoy!