Yesterday I posted a blog for green beans, noting that I have been told, professionally, to find balance in my life.
Okay, I did that.
Back to dessert. Look, I hate to say this but there are leaves turning in the Catskills. The time left for fresh berries is beginning to dwindle. We do still have strawberries up there and lots of blackberries. So for one last time, how about homemade shortcake with fresh berries? This recipe comes from master chef Larry Forgione. It is the quintessential strawberry shortcake. His restaurant is superior and you should look at his matching book, An American Place, for other perfect tastes.
I know, next to where the berries are stashed in your market there is that adjoining rack with those packets of itty bitty sponge cakes you can use to “make” strawberry shortcake.
Put the packet down. Step away from the packet. Carefully pick up a container of berries, keep your hands in sight and slowly back away. That’s it. Good. Good. You can do this.
Really, you can.
You’re going to get dough on your hands. That’s why it’s called “Old Fashioned.” Think of it as culinary therapy.
Old Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake
For the Shortcake:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 2 mashed hard-cooked large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling:
- 3 pints strawberries, washed, hulled and halved or quartered if very large
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly butter a baking sheet. Sift the flour, ¼ cup of the sugar, and the baking powder into a bowl. Add the butter pieces. Using your fingertips, work the butter quickly and lightly into the flour until the mixture is the consistency of very fine crumbs or sand. add the cream and egg yolks and stir with a fork until the dough just holds together.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead briefly, just until it forms a smooth dough. Do not overwork. Pat or roll out the dough to a thickness of ¾-inch. Using a floured 3-inch cookie cutter, cut out 4 rounds of dough. gather up the dough scraps, reroll and cut out 2 more rounds.
Put the rounds on the prepared baking sheet. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. bake on the middle rack of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown and
firm to the touch.
Meanwhile, put the strawberries in a bowl and toss them with the sugar.
In a medium bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form, cover and refrigerate.
Transfer the biscuits to a rack and let cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully split the biscuits in half and set the tops aside. Place the bottoms on dessert plates and heap the strawberries onto them. Generously spoon whipped cream over the strawberries, and replace the biscuit tops. Serve immediately, with any remaining whipped cream on the side.
Source: An American Place by Chef Larry Forgione
Fruit flavored waters, the agua frescas of the world, are terrific beverage alternatives in our summer heat. Sometimes, even the best of pure water can be boring. Conventional sodas have those lovely additions of caffeine, sugar, corn syrup and other wonder chemicals that, if consumed modestly, probably won’t kill you. In the summertime, who drinks modestly? It’s hot, I’m thirsty and I want something refreshing. Something new.
The solution is Mexico’s great contribution: aqua frescas made with melons, berries, or just about any fruit. I’ve already posted a watermelon agua fresca, which is delightful and quick to make. This one, with lovely but not-too-intense strawberry flavors, caught my eye for two reasons. One, I love strawberries. Two, this one is not quick to make. The fruit macerates for hours in sugar — just a little sugar here, it’s NOT a soda — and water before being totally ground up in a blender. Okay, on a shady Mexican street corner they would make this by hand and not use the blender. But, good lord, what a flavor level you can achieve in just two minutes on high speed!
Brian and I love lemonade, including strawberry lemonade, but this strawberry agua fresca is a bright new pathway towards beverage satisfaction.
Strawberry Agua Fresca
Yield: 8 cups
- 4 cups ripe strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 8 cups water, divided
- Ice cubes or crushed ice (optional)
The amount of sweetener needed will vary depending on the sweetness of the fruit you are using. Some may not require any at all. Sugar substitutes may be used to reduce calories further.
In a large bowl, place the strawberries, sugar, and 1 cup of water. Mash the strawberries slightly and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to macerate for approximately 4 hours. Stir occasionally during the 4 hour period.
After macerating the strawberries, remove strawberry mixture from the refrigerator and place in a blender. Process the strawberry mixture until liquefied and smooth. Pour the strawberry liquid through a wire mesh strainer set over a large bowl; strain the mixture, discarding the pulp and seeds. Add the remaining 7 cups of water and mix well.
NOTE: Traditionally an authentic aqua frescas are made without blenders and done by simply mashing the fruit with a fork or masher before adding the water and sweetener.
Chill at least 30 minutes (several hours are better) before serving. Serve with or without ice cubes. As a decorative touch, add slices or chunks of strawberries just before serving.