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Friday, June 6, 2008

The First Day of Summer

I know summer doesn't officially start until June 21st, but for me, summer has begun! It's been in the 80's and 90's here all week, humid (for Ohio) and sunny--but the most important thing is that the first fresh local strawberries appeared today at my favorite farm stand.

That can only mean one thing: Strawberry Shortcake for dinner!

Strawberry shortcake means many things to many people. Over the years, I've tried a variety
of cakes with my strawberries, from angel food (blech) to pound cake (good, but not quite right), from my mother-in-law's famous Bisquick cakes (double the butter and sugar) to my mother's leftover buttermilk biscuits (yum!). For a long time, the biscuits were my favorite. I should clarify, my mother's biscuits are the flat, crispy kind baked in a hot buttered cast iron skillet, not the fluffy yeast rolls a lot of people like to pass off as biscuits around here. Not that there's anything wrong with yeast biscuits; they can be wonderful. But they don't pair perfectly with country ham and red eye gravy, in my opinion, nor are they the right base for a good strawberry shortcake. In fact, after a lot of very pleasurable experimentation, I've declared a new favorite: cream biscuits.

Cream biscuits are simple as can be, just flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lots of heavy cream. I use the recipe from the Gourmet cookbook, but the link above is pretty similar, although I usually cut them with a small drinking glass for a more uniform shape, and I like to brush the tops with cream before baking. All that cream gives them a rich tenderness that melts in your mouth. The biscuits soak up strawberry juice like they were created by God with no other purpose in mind, but they never seem to get soggy. Of course, that could be because they don't stick around long enough for that to become a problem.

For the strawberries (Heaven preserve us from that nasty, gooey stuff they sell by the bag in grocery stores), just cut off the green tops and any hard, ugly bits (I had one today shaped like Dick Cheney, all cranky and bloated--ugh) and cut each berry in half. Sprinkle the bowlful of berries with sugar, mash them around a little and put them in the fridge for an hour or so. Let the sugar do all the work of drawing the moisture out of the berries, and when your biscuits are ready, just cut one in half and spoon some bright red, juicy strawberries over them. Top with a little fresh whipped cream, a little milk, or nothing at all. It's summer in a bowl.


MMMmmm...I love strawberry shortcake like a fat kid loves, well, strawberry shortcake.

Does that make me a fat kid?

looks yummy!

K, if you're a fat kid, I want to BE strawberry shortcake. Wait, does that make sense?

Maria, it was in fact very yummy!

my mouth just watered and I think I gained 10 lbs from reading that. thanks. A LOT.

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