Easy Strawberry Shortcakes with Whipped Cream

Easy Strawberry Shortcake

I made it though another year – I don’t really know how, but I did.  It was quite a last week of school, with exciting events for both girls every day.  Things were so crazy, I almost forgot they would bring their report cards home on Friday.  Normally that is not something I think about, but after the last report card – my younger daughter was spending a little too much time socializing, and not enough time actually focusing on her work.  She is not the driver my older one is, and has no real desire to do more than she needs to (unless it has to do with art), and the teachers were starting to catch on.  She is extremely capable, and they were pushing her to do more – but that wasn’t happening.  Fortunately the talks we had with her worked, and her last report card really lit a little fire under her – because boy did she turn things around.  Even I was floored – the first word her Math teacher wrote in the comments section was:  “Wow!”  I was so proud of her, and you should have seen her face when I told her how well she had done, she was beaming.  The summer was starting out on a really good note.

So what do you make for a special last day of school dessert?  Well – I have been waiting and waiting for the strawberry stand to open at my bus stop.  I always thought it opened in the beginning of June – but the beginning of June came and went – and not only was the stand not open, the stand wasn’t even there.  Every day when the bus dropped me off, I would hope and pray that the stand would show up – but no.  I was starting to think they decided to put the stand somewhere else.  I was really getting depressed.  It is like my own secret stash of fresh strawberries that only my neighborhood knows about – ok, so that is a lot of people – but still.  Finally last week the stand showed up, just as I was ready to give up on them, and start driving around looking for another one.  I was so happy – all I could think about was Friday – after my older daughter’s promotion ceremony.  We would stop on the way home and buy a whole flat.  Also – I completely forgot that a whole flat – is really like buying 2 flats.  $21 bought me more strawberries than I could ever know what to do with – I even cranked out 10 jars of my favorite strawberry vanilla jam – and I still have pounds of them left.

Back to dessert on Friday night.  I really wanted to make a strawberry crisp – but they both had such amazing report cards – they got to choose – and they found this picture on Tastespotting  from a beautiful blog called Just a Taste.  When I looked at the name of the recipe, and the first word was “easy” – how could I turn them down?  These shortcakes were delicious, in fact – I actually think I have made them before – but it was the whipped cream that really made this dessert special.  The sour cream gave the cream some weight, and some tang – it was exactly what these shortcakes and strawberries needed.  Ok, seriously – these strawberries needed nothing – they were sweet and delicious, but pairing them with these shortcakes and whipped cream just put them over the edge.

It was a really nice start to the weekend, that ended with a wonderful Father’s Day, and another delicious dessert.  The girls made me promise they could eat the rest of the strawberries this week after swim team (with a little cake on the side).  I think this is going to be a great summer…for all of us.

Ingredients

For the shortcakes:

  • 4 cups sliced strawberries
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups heavy cream, plus additional for brushing on shortcakes
  • 2 teaspoons decorative sanding sugar (optional)

For the whipped cream:

  • 1 cup chilled heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Equipment: 3-inch circular cookie cutter (optional)

Preparation

Make the shortcakes:

Preheat the oven to 425ºF with a rack in the middle. Lightly butter a baking sheet.  In a small bowl, stir together the sliced strawberries with the sugar. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in the heavy cream just until a dough forms. Gather the dough into a ball and knead it on a lightly floured surface one to two times. (Don’t over-knead the dough or your biscuits will be tough.)  Roll out the dough until it’s 1/2-inch thick. Using the cookie cutter, cut out 8 shortcakes and transfer them to the baking sheet. (Alternately, you can trim the sides of the dough into a square and then, using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 square shortcakes.)  Brush the tops of the shortcakes with additional heavy cream and then sprinkle them with the sanding sugar (optional). Bake the shortcakes until golden, 15 to 20 minutes, and then transfer them to a rack to cool.

Make the whipped cream:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the heavy cream, sour cream, sugar and vanilla extract on high-speed until soft peaks form.

Assemble the shortcakes:

Slice the shortcakes in half and then sandwich the strawberries and whipped cream inside them.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Easy Strawberry Shortcakes with Whipped Cream

Advertisements

Apple-Molasses Upside-Down Cake

Apple Mollases Upside Down Cake

Cast Iron pans are a secret weapon.  Yes, they are heavy enough that they could actually be used as a weapon, but that’s not what I am talking about.  I love my cast iron pan, but I hardly ever use it!  The problem is, because I don’t use it very much, whenever I go to use it – I usually have to re-season it.  It is not that hard, but kind of a pain.  It is always completely worth it though – particularly for baking.  The one thing I have not done yet is use my cast iron pan to bake something on the Big Green Egg…now we’re talking.

The other week I signed up to bring dessert for book club.  I decided that I would make two desserts – one for the kids, and one for the adults.  What did I make for the kids?  Of course these…but I wanted to do something completely different for the adults.  Something that was easy, not too heavy, but that looked appetizing enough for everyone to try it.  I was so happy when I found this recipe in Bon Appetit, and it called for a cast iron pan.  It had been a while since I baked on my cast iron pan, and it was time.

It was a little risky to make this when we were trying to think spring, but I think I pulled it off.  The apples really made this dish – the cake had such an intense flavor that the apples offset it nicely.  Most of the Moms had a taste, and many of the kids did too.  Now, all I have to do is make this on the Egg to give it a nice smoky flavor…now that would be something else.

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted  butter
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose  flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher  salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground  cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking  soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking  powder
  • 3/4 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons grated  peeled ginger
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 3-4 Honeycrisp or Pink Lady apples,  (about 2 pounds), peeled

Preparation

Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350°. Melt butter  in a 10-inch (as measured across the bottom) cast-iron or other ovenproof  skillet; set aside. Whisk flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder  in a medium bowl.

Whisk molasses, egg, ginger, and 1/4 cup sugar in a large  bowl. Whisk in sour cream, then milk. Gradually whisk in dry ingredients, then 3  tablespoons melted butter from skillet. Set aside.

Place 1 apple on a work surface  stem up. Cut a large piece of  apple from 1 side, leaving core behind. Rotate apple and repeat twice for a  total of 3 large pieces (a triangular core will remain). Repeat with remaining  apples.

Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar to butter in skillet. Cook over  medium-high heat until sugar begins to caramelize, 2-3 minutes. Add apples; stir  to coat. Cook apples rounded sides down for  3 minutes, then turn over and cook  flat sides down until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes longer. Space apples  evenly in skillet flat side down and pour cake batter over.

Transfer skillet to oven. Bake until a cake tester inserted  into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 30-40 minutes.

Let cake cool in skillet for 10 minutes, then carefully invert  onto a plate. Serve cake warm or at room temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Apple Mollases Upside Down Cake

Apple Trefoils Crisp

Apple Trefoil Crisp

It is that time again – just when the holiday blues start wearing off, when you see those brightly colored boxes of delicious cookies.  Yes, it is Girl Scout Cookie time!  And like last year, the Girl Scouts of Western Washington are having another recipe contest.  Since I came in 2nd place last year, I figured I had to try again. And again, like last year – if I can win some money out of this contest, I would like to do something really special – I would like to donate the money to a charity – and I am going to ask you – my readers – to choose the charity.  That’s right – so stayed tuned for more on that – no sense in giving more details if I am not a finalist.

Unlike last year, where the sky was the limit when it came to making up a recipe – I really had to control myself this year.  After all, I am still on this simplicity kick – and not only that, I wanted to make something a little healthier.  I thought about fruit, and what I could do with Girl Scout Cookies and fruit, and then I remembered where I live – in Washington State…so how could I not make something with Washington Apples??  It is extremely important to support your local economy – especially in the midst of a contest.  So – there it was, staring me in the face – an apple crisp, and what could be better than making a topping using the tried and true Trefoils Shortbread Cookie.

I was pretty impressed with how good this came out.  I made it in a skillet and then put that skillet in the oven – how’s that for simplicity?  The crisp was delicious, especially the topping – but combined with those caramelized apples, boy was it a treat – and the best part of all, I let my kids have seconds.  I actually felt good about serving it for dessert.

Just a few reminders – Girl Scout Cookies are on sale from March 1-17! There is an awesome cookie locator, as well as an app, that tells you exactly where girls are selling cookies in your neighborhood! They won’t be updated until closer to the sale, but are very good to keep handy.  Then you too can buy some cookies and make this awesome and simple crisp, that supports our local farms!

Ingredients

Topping

  • 1 1/2 sleeves of Trefoils Girl Scout Cookies
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled outs
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  • 3 pounds Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, halved, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preparation

Make the topping:  Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees.  Put the Girl Scout cookies in a food processor and crush until fine.  Combine the cookies, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl.  Stir in butter until mixture is thoroughly moistened and crumbly.  Set aside while preparing the fruit filling.

Make the filling:  Toss the apples, granulated sugar, and cinnamon (if using) together in a large bowl;  set aside.  Bring cider to a simmer in a 12-inch oven-safe skillet over medium heat; cook until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes.  Transfer reduced cider to a bowl or liquid measuring cup; stir in lemon juice and set aside.

Heat butter in a now empty skillet over medium heat.  When foaming subsides, add apple mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until apples begin to soften and become translucent, 12 to 14 minutes.  (Do not fully cook apples.)  Remove pan from heat and gently stir in cider mixture until apples are coated.

Sprinkle topping evenly over fruit, breaking up any large chunks.  Place skillet on baking sheet and bake until fruit is tender and topping is deep golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack until warm, at least 15 minutes, and serve.

Serve the apple crisp warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream – or just by itself.

Serves 6-8

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Apple Trefoils Crisp

Honey-Lemon Custard with Fruit

I am back from my quick trip to China – and what an amazing experience it was.  I really had no expectations – it was a work trip, and I was focussed on the content I was there to present.  I loved getting to know the employees in our Beijing offices, I loved the food, the silk market – and I loved getting a Chinese foot massage (that is really like a body massage) where they kick the crap out of you, and it actually feels amazing – if you can control yourself from laughing.

So when I go to new cities, there is one place I always want to see – the super market.  I know it sounds crazy, but that is how I really embrace the culture.  I was a little afraid to tell the people I was travelling with about my quest – so I decided to keep it quietly to myself.  I was pretty sure I wouldn’t find one, since I had very little time to explore – so I told myself not to be disappointed.  After the first few meals, I was so impressed, I almost stopped thinking about trying to find one.  The dumplings kept me happy enough – oh, and the breakfast at the hotel – it was a global breakfast dream.  They had everything and anything you can think of – the highlights were the pork dumplings, honey yogurt and the watermelon smoothies.  Believe me when I say, you could get ANYTHING.

The weather in Beijing could not have been any better – it was blue sky, high 60s and clear as can be.  I could see the mountains, and again, I had no idea how beautiful it was going to be.  I finished my meetings at 3:00 in the afternoon, and decided to take a little walk around the office building.  I heard there was a shopping mall not too far down the road, and I needed a little adventure.  On my way there, I saw a sign – for Carre Four – I found it!!!!  That is a French super market that I love going to in Paris – I couldn’t believe it!  I had to go down a big escalator, and then walk quite a bit through these subway tunnels – but I finally found it.  They had a big dollar section right when I walked in – but in China, it was like the penny section – I bought some noodles for pennies.  I loved walking around and seeing all the packaged and fresh foods – the flat chickens were really the most unusual.  They were hanging with the salami – and they looked like they had been flattened and then dried.  Wow.

I could go on and on about the food – like the night we went for Peking Duck, and after they carved the meat off the bones, they crushed the bones, and deep-fried them.  The man sitting next to me just went to town – crunching away.  Or, the night we went to a 4.5 star dumpling place that looked like a fast food joint.  The food was pretty good (although the first dumpling place we went to was better), but they brought this mango custard that was amazing.  We weren’t really sure what it was, but I had to try it – and I was so glad I did – it was my favorite part of that meal.

I found this recipe in Bon Appetit, and had made it before I left for China.  It was not as sweet as what I ate there, but this was also amazing.  Let it sit for a day or so before eating, so the flavors really have a chance to develop.  I put mango on the top, but really any fruit would be excellent.  If you like a lemon custard, this is your dessert – and you don’t have to travel thousands of miles to try some!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons honey, divided
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 3 2-inch strips lemon peel
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 1/4 cup light rum
  • 1 cup berries or sliced mango

Preparation

Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Heat cream, 2 tablespoons honey, and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until just beginning to simmer. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Add lemon peel; remove from heat. Let steep for 5 minutes (cream should register about 160°F on an instant-read thermometer). Remove vanilla bean and peel. Gently stir in 5 tablespoons lemon juice.

Divide custard among ramekins and chill to let set for at least 1 hour or, covered, up to 1 day.

Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons honey and 1 tablespoon lemon juice with rum in a small bowl. Stir in fruit; let sit until juicy, about 1 hour. Serve with custard.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Honey-Lemon Custard with Fruit

Stawberry-Lemon Shortcakes

I just love shortcake season – which also just happens to be the same time of year as cobbler and crisp season as well.  They are all so delicious, it is hard to decide which one to make.  Usually I have to make a few of each kind during the summer, just to try out some new recipes.

Over the years though, I have really started favoring shortcakes, for a few reasons:

  • I never cook the fruit, therefore, if you have some wonderful sweet and ripe berries, you get to eat them in their glory – I tend to make crisp and cobblers with fruit that is not as ripe.
  • You get to eat the leftover shortcakes the next day – warmed in the toaster or microwave, with a little butter and jam on them, just like a scone.
  • I love individualized desserts that you get to build yourself…ok, is this just me?

So, when I saw this recipe in Cooking Light, I couldn’t wait to give it a try.  I loved how these were made – basically putting the dough in a cake pan, and letting the shortcakes all bake together – although there was still a slight separation so it was easy to break them apart when they were done.  These were perfect shortcakes, nice and tender, but not too sweet – letting the strawberries do their job to add the sweetness.  I bet you can guess what my favorite part was though…that’s right, eating them the next day for breakfast – and believe me, I will be making these more and more, giving me just another excuse to make more of this.  Like I needed another excuse?

Ingredients

  • 9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
  • 4 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cups frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed (or real whipped cream, which is what I used)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425°.

Weigh or lightly spoon 9 ounces (about 2 cups) flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine 9 ounces flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Cut in chilled butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Combine 1 1/4 cups buttermilk and grated lemon rind. Add the buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, and toss gently with a fork to combine. (Dough should be wet and about the texture of cottage cheese.)

Coat a 9-inch round metal cake pan or baking sheet with cooking spray. Place 1/2 cup flour in a shallow dish. Scoop 10 equal dough portions into dish. Gently shape each portion into a round by tossing in flour to help shape the dough. Arrange in pan. Discard excess flour. Brush dough with melted butter, and sprinkle evenly with 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar. Bake at 425° for 22 minutes or until the shortcakes are lightly browned. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove shortcakes from pan. Cool on wire rack.

Combine berries, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and lemon juice; toss to coat. Let stand for 15 minutes. Split each shortcake in half; spoon about 1/3 cup berry mixture and 2 tablespoons whipped topping into each.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Stawberry-Lemon Shortcakes

Roasted Pineapple with Honey and Pistachios

I came into work a little later today, my husband was travelling, and I needed to get the kids off to school.  I like to be the first person at work in my area, with only the security guards wandering around – and when I am not, it usually throws off my entire day.  This morning, when I finally did get in, everyone was there, and my boss mentioned that she had donuts in her office.  It is not often that we have sweet treats like that in the morning, and I figured it would be nice to have with my tea. It turns out, one of my co-workers went to a new donut shop near her house and brought them in for all of us to try.  These were no ordinary donuts, they were basically like cupcakes in the shape of donuts.  I cut off a tiny taste of about 4 kinds, and they just about did me in for the rest of the day.  The universe was already a bit off by me coming in so late, but those donuts were just too much…talk about over the top.  I was craving fruit for the rest of the day – which if you know me, does not happen very often.

I grew up in a house that was against fruit for some reason.  My grandmother pushed fruit on my mother to the extreme, so in revolt, my mother banned it from the house.  Ok, not exactly, but I swear I can hardly ever remember seeing it when I was growing up.  On the other hand, when I would visit my grandmother, it was a course at every meal.  Don’t forget the fruit!  My husband has had to train me over the years to purchase fruit for the house – he sometimes will make a special trip to the market just so there is enough, and it always has to be fresh.  My girls love fruit – especially berries – so I am definitely the outlier of the house when it comes to this part of the food pyramid.

I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit, and I thought my family would be proud of me.  It would satisfy my need to make something, but in the end, we are talking about fresh fruit.  It was certainly a big hit – I loved the yogurt on the side – the pineapple was so sweet, it was a welcome accompaniment.  I didn’t end up pouring more syrup on the top, because it didn’t need it.  I ended up using the extra syrup on top of the extra plain yogurt – delicious.  So – if you are in the mood for something sweet, and want to feel like you are being healthy – here is the perfect dessert for you.  Then you can wake up the next morning and stop for a red velvet donut…

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup(packed) dark brown  sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 medium ripe pineapple, peeled, cored, cut lengthwise into 8  wedges
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche or  yogurt
  • 1/3 cup natural unsalted pistachios, coarsely  chopped
  • 2 tablespoons torn fresh mint  leaves

Preparation

Preheat oven to 450°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with  parchment paper. Stir first 3 ingredients in a large bowl until sugar dissolves.  Add pineapple; toss to coat.  Let marinate, tossing occasionally, for 10  minutes. Place pineapple, one flat side down, on prepared sheet; reserve  marinade.

Roast pineapple for 15 minutes. Turn, brush with marinade, and  roast until tender and caramelized, 10–15 minutes. Drizzle remaining marinade  over; let cool slightly.

Divide pineapple among plates. Spoon crème fraîche alongside.  Garnish with nuts and mint.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Roasted Pineapple with Honey and Pistachios

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Apple-Phyllo Strudel

When fall arrives, fortunately apples come with it, and in Washington State, we are talking a lot of apples, all shapes, colors, and varieties.  Growing up I was never too fond of apples desserts, but the older I get, the more I like them.  I remember my grandmother’s apple crisp – I loved the crisp topping, but never wanted to eat any of the apples.

The first time I really enjoyed an apple dessert was when I was studying abroad during college.  We had two weeks off for spring break to travel, and that’s exactly what we did.  We probably went to 10 countries in 14 days, and it was awesome.  The motto for the trip was to experience all the “specialties of the region.”  Mostly that meant food, although it included activities as well.  It was on that trip that I had my first apple strudel, and it was amazing – the crust was so flakey, and the apples were so cooked that they almost melted in my mouth.  The strudel was warm, and just incredible, especially for someone who wasn’t fond of apple desserts.  It was not served with ice-cream, unlike the american apple pie.

The other week we were invited to a traditional October-fest, and the host asked me to bring something Bavarian.  I went to Epicurious, and this was what I chose.  It was pretty easy to make, and came out delicious.  The dried cherries were a really nice addition.  It was not as good as I remember in Austria, but definitely worth making – especially if you are not fond of apple desserts…yet.

Ingredients

  • 6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup amaretti cookie or graham cracker crumbs

Preparation

Heat oven to 350°F. In a 12-inch nonstick pan over medium heat, cook apples with dried fruit, sugar and cinnamon until tender, about 10 minutes. Let cool, reserving liquid for optional sauce. Layer 2 phyllo sheets on top of each other. Coat top of phyllo layer with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1/3 of cookie crumbs. Layer 2 more sheets of phyllo on top, coat with cooking spray, then crumbs; repeat once more. Spread apple mixture on top; roll up from the shorter end. Coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Place strudel on sheet and bake 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool. Cut into 8 pieces. Place a slice on each plate;

Optional sauce: Mix yogurt with reserved liquid and drizzle over slices.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Apple Phyllo Strudel

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine