by John Ryan
Most important, buy really ripe and delicious strawberries. Avoid those big gorgeous berries that look good but taste like wood.
1. Deal with the strawberries.
2. Make the biscuits. When they are out of the oven and a little cooler than lukewarm...
3. Whip the cream and assemble the dessert—Pull a biscuit apart, spoon some berries onto the bottom half, then some cream, and a few more berries. Put the top half of the biscuit on at a jaunty angle, spoon some syrup and berries on the plate and serve with the extra whipped cream close by.
Biscuits are about as American as you can get. And when they're made right, nothing can beat them. I'll take a good biscuit right out of the oven over a croissant any day of the week.
These are basic breakfast biscuits. It is a little early for strawberries around here, but there's no time like the present to get the biscuit recipe down.
425 degree F. oven
Makes 6 biscuits:
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons shortening and/or butter
3/4 cups milk
For shortcake biscuits:
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup raisins or chopped dried apricots
1. Turn the oven on to 425 degrees F. In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt (and sugar if using).
2. Cut the fat into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender until the fat is quite small. Then quickly rub the mixture between your palms, trying to flatten the fat into leaves. (Stir in the raisins or apricots if you're using them.)
3. Add milk and cut it in with a fork, then turn the dough onto the counter, pat it down and fold it over on itself—do this 3 or 4 times until the dough is fairly uniform. Use a pastry scraper or metal spatula to turn the dough over or deal with dough sticking to the counter.
4. Pat the dough into a circle about 3/4-inch thick. Use a cookie cutter or water glass to cut out 4 or 5 biscuits. Then bundle up the scraps into a mutant biscuit and put it on the cookie sheet with the others. Wait until the oven is up to speed, then bake until the biscuits are golden brown on top, about 15 minutes.
1 pint basket strawberries
1 tablespoon sugar
Optional: Grand Marnier or Cointreau
Hull the berries (remove the leaf and pithy core), then halve (or quarter the big ones). Sprinkle them lightly with sugar and gently stir. Set them aside for an hour or so to let a light syrup develop. If you want to go over the top, add a splash of Grand Marnier or Cointreau to the berries.
Real whipped cream (as opposed to whipped cream from an aerosol can or plastic tub) is extraordinarily easy to make and absolutely delicious. While just about everybody expects cream to be flavored with vanilla (and vanilla is very, very good), try cream flavored with lemon or lime juice. No, the lemon juice won't curdle the cream. (It'll curdle milk, but not cream.) Lemon or lime juice makes the cream taste remarkably fresh and the tart citrus flavor goes well with strawberries.
For 2—3 strawberry shortcakes:
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
In a chilled bowl, put the cream, half the sugar and half the lemon juice and start whipping. Add the rest of the sugar and lemon juice gradually. Stop when the cream is thick and spoonable. Don't overwhip or the cream will separate into butter and a thin watery liquid.
Both chef and musician, John Ryan wrote the Just Good Food blog from 1996 through 2001.
This page created May 2000
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