When B was here last week we had a fantastic dinner one night. It was one of those great outdoor dinners (on our new table!) with good friends that last a long time. Oh summer, thank you for coming.
I’d like to say the best part was the dessert, but it was all really delicious. G grilled steaks, which we served with a mint-cilantro-parsley-basil pesto sauce. He also grilled veggies from the co-op that we marinated for a bit in Italian dressing. Bread (the simple artisan bread) was eaten, of course, as well as a tomato-basil-mozzarella salad that we drizzled with a balsamic reduction. To make the balsamic, just cook the vinegar down on low heat with some black pepper. It will taste sweet and awesome. I think you could put it on anything…like a spoon and drink it plain. Do it.
But about the dessert. I had a strawberry shortcake craving. I’m not sure why because I don’t usually eat it, but I’m sure glad I did. Not only was it pretty tasty, but the boozy whipped cream gave us a week of awesome morning coffee drinks. I don’t know if this is how you make a “traditional” strawberry shortcake–we kind of just made it up as we went along–but it’s really simple and you can’t go wrong with any combination of butter biscuits, strawberries, and cream.
For the whipped cream, we whipped organic whipping cream in the KitchenAid mixer and added Maker’s Mark bourbon and vanilla extract to taste. You don’t really need sugar in the whipped cream because the strawberries and the strawberry coulis adds sweetness. We used about 2-3 cups of cut strawberries to make the coulis, adding them to a sauce pan with water and sugar and cooking them down on low heat. They will still be whole and they don’t need to get too mushy because you then put them in a blender, with fresh mint if you have it, blend away and refrigerate. All of this can be done to taste. I like the mint because fresh mint tastes good added to pretty much anything, and it gives the coulis pretty green specks.
The biscuits, on the other hand, take a little more precision. Although not much. I found used a butter biscuits recipe from one of the bread books G gave me: Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible. While not as puffy as I thought they would be, they were pretty good for strawberry shortcake because they were buttery and kind of firm or dense. Again, like the scones from an earlier post, the only annoying thing about making them was cutting cold butter into little bits. Once that’s done it goes pretty fast. Let them cool (I let them just sit on the baking sheet) before slicing them for the dessert.
adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s “The Bread Bible” ; makes about 10 biscuits
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs (yolks only)
3/4 cup heavy cream (I used whipping cream)
Place a baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven. (You’ll need another baking sheet to put the biscuits on.) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with the baking sheet in the oven.
In a big mixing bowl whisk the flours, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add the cold butter by cutting it into little bits into the bowl. Once all the butter is in there press it into the flour mixture with your fingers. Add the egg yolks and whisk them in. Stir in the cream. The dough should start to come together. You might need to mix it with your hands too to bring it together. Form it into a ball and put it on a lightly floured cutting board. Knead it a bit and add a little more flour if you need to…it will still be a little sticky.
Push the dough out into a rough rectangle or square that’s about 3/4 inch thick. Using a glass, cut out the biscuits and put them on a baking sheet about an inch apart. Keep flattening out the extra dough, kneading it a bit before doing so, to make more biscuits until it’s all gone.
To bake, put the baking sheet with the biscuits on the baking sheet that has been heating up in the oven. Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes and then lower the oven heat to 375 degrees for 10-15 more minutes (mine took about 15). The biscuits should be somewhat golden on top. Let cool before cutting and serving.