Sunday, May 28, 2006

Strawberries, Strawberries, Strawberries!

What do you love about Memorial Day weekend? Is it the burgers, the dogs? Or is it the sweet succulent first strawberries of the year?

Well, I admit those first burgers of the year are pretty near my favorite thing ever! But...I do have to confess that I don't feel quite complete at the end of the BBQ without some strawberries and cream , or maybe strawberries and icecream or better still Strawberry Shortcake! That's it! Fluffy sweet biscuits, heaps of strawberries and billowy clouds of chantilly cream. Now there's a perfect finish to any great BBQ.

Preheat oven to 450

Sweet Biscuits
2 Cups Self Rising Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 oz Butter
1/2 Cup Milk
1/4 Cup Water

Mix flour, salt and sugar in a medium sized bowl, rub butter in with fingers until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. There shouldn't be any chunks of butter visable. Make a well in the center.

Combine milk and water and pour into flour well. Mix lightly to combine. Dump onto lightly floured surface and kneed until it comes together - DON'T over work it! Pat into a circle about 3/4 inch thick. Either cut with 2 inch cookie cutter or VERY sharp knife into wedges. Either way you should have 12 biscuits. Lightly brush top with milk (or melted butter).

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches part. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden on top. Cool completely on a rack.

Strawberries and Sauce

1 Quart Fresh Strawberries (this doesn't work well with frozen)
1 Large Navel Orange
1-2 Tablespoons Sugar (or 1 Tablespoon Splenda)

Rinse and hull strawberries. Cut in half - quarters for larger berries, and place in a large glass bowl. You need to cut them at least in half to get the juices to flow. Sprinkle sugar over the berries. If you like your berries sweet use both tablespoons. You can omit the sugar all together if you think your berries are sweet enough. Juice the orange over the berries. Don't worry if it seems a little dry - the berries will give up their juice as they sit. Refrigerate for a few hours.

The good thing about this recipe is that the acid in the orange juice will keep your berries firm and red for quite a while, not gray and mushy as with water. When you choose your orange be sure that the orange you choose seems heavy for its size. That will mean that it is full of juice!

Chantilly Cream

1 Pint Heavy Cream (very cold)
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Teaspoon Cointreau

In a very cold, but not frosted, bowl beat the cream until beaters leave trails. Add sugar, vanilla and cointreau (if using) continue beating until soft peaks. If the mixture starts looking clotty STOP, you are on your way to butter! You want you cream to be a little loose, not stiff and dry.

Assemble your short cake how ever you like - I split the biscuit and top with berries, cream then the other half. More berries more cream!!! Yum!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Milk & Cookies

Want one?

(Taken from Bon App├ętit Magazine February 2006)

Be sure to use regular peanut butter — not old-fashioned or freshly ground — for the best consistency in the cookie batter and the filling.

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (packed) dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 1/3 cups (about 8 ounces) milk chocolate chips

3 ounces high-quality milk chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina), chopped
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
6 tablespoons whipping cream

For cookies:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the powdered sugar, dark brown sugar, and butter in large bowl to blend.
Add peanut butter; beat until creamy. Gradually beat in vegetable oil and vanilla extract, then egg.
Add dry ingredients; mix just until blended. Stir in milk chocolate chips.
Drop cookie dough by level tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake cookies until puffed and golden brown, about 12 minutes. Cool slightly, and then transfer cookies to rack to cool completely.

For filling:
Place chocolate, peanut butter, powdered sugar, and kosher salt in medium bowl. Bring whipping cream to boil in heavy small saucepan. Pour hot cream over chocolate mixture; stir until mixture is melted and smooth. Chill until filling is thick and spreadable, about 1 hour.
Spread about 1 rounded teaspoonful chocolate-peanut butter filling on flat side of 1 cookie. Top with second cookie, forming sandwich. Repeat with remaining filling and cookies. (Cookie sandwiches can be made 1 day ahead. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.)
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen sandwich cookies.

*I used a cookie scoop but did not get 30 – more like 20. Also the cookies domed a bit; to flatten them drop the cookie sheet right when you get it out of the oven from about 2 inches above the counter (gently). Be sure also to let the cookies rest on the sheet for 2 or 3 minutes as they are quite fragile when hot.